My teenage years were dominated by SF Fantasy and Mystery novels, and there they were usually devoid of any romance angle. Romance would only be worked into the story as a token sub-plot, and not an important factor to influence the story over much. So imagine my delight when I stumbled upon this series (thanks to P Devi).
However, having heard that this series has mixed reviews, I started on The Sun Witch seeking a break from romance, and what a pleasant surprise it was for me. I simply couldn’t stop turning the pages!
And after I’ve finished with The Sun Witch, I went on to The Moon Witch (which has a paranormal romance) and The Star Witch. Finished reading all three in less than 18 hours, and that’s not all. Monday evening saw me re-reading the Sun Witch and the Star Witch, my two favourite instalments of the series. Can you understand the potency of the spell I was under?
There’s just no word to describe the story except ‘Wow!’. The intrigue, the power struggle, the battle between good and evil, and the eternal triumph of love over all strife sucked me right in. I was transported to that fantasy world of witches, wizards, dark lords, shape-shifters and rebels before anyone could snap his finger, shake me and say, ‘Wake up!’.
It was an engrossing great story, the kind of Fantasy Romance that I dreamt of reading when I was younger. And Linda weaves a powerful magic here with three heroines who grew and come into their own as witches, discovering their gifts as they learn to trust their hearts and free themselves to love fearlessly. This is a huge step because a curse put on their family long ago makes true love unattainable for the Fyne witches.
In The Sun Witch, Sophie, the youngest of the three sisters, kicked off the series with her refusal to believe that she was meant to be alone. So she found the green-eyed rebel of her dreams, with whom she share a night of passion and left him still wondering if she was a figment of his imagination. She discovered her gift of fertility while pregnant with his child, unbeknownst to him. When Kane finally found her after a year’s long search, during which he tried but couldn’t shake her from his mind, he was stunned to find her with his daughter, and that he was still very much attracted to her even after the eldest Fyne witch, Isadora, has lifted the good luck charm Sophie has bestowed on him after their night together.
When a scorned suitor of Sophie’s kidnapped their newborn, both must united to regain their flesh and blood and find a way to lift the curse. Their quest culminated in Sophie discovering that she has greater untapped powers that are linked to her emotions – she’s able to influence other’s emotions – when she daringly refused the emperor’s hand in marriage, demanded in exchange for the release of her daughter.
The adventures of middle sister, Juliet, a psychic and healer, is the focus of The Moon Witch, which IMO, is the weakest book of the three. But that didn’t detract my pursuing the story’s development.
Upon learning of the powers of the Fyne witches, the emperor Sebastyen sent out his men to capture the remaining two sisters so that he can harness their powers for his own nefarious purposes. On the way, Juliet was ‘rescued’ by a mysterious man who seems to be connected in the mind to Juliet.
Juliet has had terrifying dreams of her first time with a man in her future, only she didn’t know that the blood of Anwyn, a tribe of wolf-beast shape shifters, runs in her veins and that those nightmares actually portents her discovering even greater powers of her own. This instalment borders a little on the paranormal, and although I read it as feverishly as the first, it was the plot development which drew me in. I guess it’s because I’ve never really taken to paranormal romances involving werewolves.
Still, the author built up the tension and pace the story towards its conclusion, and that fantastical world of the Anwyns she created is fascinating in that the tribe is ruled by a Queen. And Juliet is the Queen foretold in prophecies. I got quite a kick out of seeing the unassuming and humble Juliet taking on the leadership and discovering that [she] actually has the natural ability to rule and command.
The Star Witch is a fitting finale, marvelously wrought through clever plot development, a few diabolical twists and of course, the author’s formidable imagery and story-telling skills. The bulk of this book takes place at the Emperor’s palace where the civil war is looming closer and alliances have to be quickly established to secure the kingdom for the Empress’ unborn twins. Did I mention that the Empress Liane is Kane’s sister, and therefore sister-in-law to Sophie? Well, anyway, that’s one of the diabolical twists.
She interceded on Isadora’s behalf and asked for her as a personal witch in order to spare her from being thrown into jail or the harem. It was while she was thus held against her will, that the chaste widow met Lucan, the handsome Captain of the mythical Circle of Bacwyr, who was there to negotiate his brother’s suit for one of the Emperor’s harem ladies, and secretly to recover the Star of Bacwyr to fulfill his destiny of becoming the Prince of Swords. The warrior tribe he leads is being wooed by the Emperor who seeks a powerful alliance to even the odds against the rebel insurgence that’ marching on his palace.
The tumultuous relationship (it’s even more melodramatic than Romeo and Juliet, I swear) between the royal couple makes an interesting, and contrasting, backdrop to the steady development of feelings between the warrior who has been warned to ‘stay away from the witch’, and Isadora, both of whom are oblivious to the secrets they hide from each other.
As matters come to a head, the three sisters would eventually meet again to prevent civil war from tearing apart their country and finally to break the curse. Each woman also finally met their father (they are were sired by three different fathers – part of their deceased mother’s harebrained idea that this will not inflict the curse on the men).
The Star Witch brings about a satisfying conclusion – not all HEA for Liane managed to save her twin sons, but lost her husband the Emperor Sebastyen. I will confess that I actually started to like Sebastyen in this book. He’s a ruler torn by the desire to express his love uninhibitedly, yet had to restrained himself and appear cold and harsh in order to protect Liane from the scheming of the witches and priests he inherited from his father. Even when he was misunderstood by Liane, he stood fast and towards even the end, he paid with his life for her, and their sons’, safety.
I could see possibilities of a continuation of the series. It would be interesting to see their second generation exhibit their gifts, and Isadora’s new life with the Tryfyn. I found Linda’s writing simply magical, and this particular verse from The Sun Witch left a deep impression:
‘If I know nothing else in this world, I know that I would rather have a year with you than fifty years without you.’