Cover Image: A Spell of Rowans

A Spell of Rowans

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Member Reviews

Many thanks to both the author & Net Galley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

When I say this book was a page turner, I mean I was physically incapable of putting it down. I found myself so deeply intrigued by the Rowan siblings, their parents, and the mystery surrounding what happened to the family that I devoured the entire book in a single day.

I read a lot of fantasy, but this book is definitely darker than most, full of magical realism and fascinating, multi-faceted characters. There are definitely parts that are hard to read, specifically to do with childhood abuse and mental health struggles, but overall I definitely enjoyed the story, particularly the ending.

Towards the 70% mark it seemed like everything was going to wrap up in a nice little bow which made the entire plot seem a bit shallow, but the final chapters added some well needed layers of depth that really rounded out the plot.

I would definitely explore more books from the author, and have rated this 4/5 stars.
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Gosh darn cute seems like an odd way to describe such a dark book, but that was my take-away feeling.  

The story is about 3 siblings who each have some magical power.  They come together after the death of their mother, and mysteries abound.     

I have very mixed thoughts about this book. 

It is really cute, but it dealt with such dark subjects as abuse and murder
I loved the characters, but felt like I needed more background on them to get to know them better
I loved how each sibling had a different talent, but I was confused as to what the sister could do exactly - make people like her?  
I loved the brother, but sometimes thought he was mentally challenged, then thought he was very bright and able to care for himself.    His descriptions were not consistent.  

Regardless of my mixed thoughts, I kept the pages turning because I LIKED this book and wanted to know what happened next and thats the most important thing, right?  

I want to thank the author, the publisher and #netgalley for the ARC which did not impact my review
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This was a “new to me” author who usually writes straight up fantasy I believe. The story is about 3 adult siblings who all have some kind of paranormal power. Their abusive mother, who many believed was a witch, has just died and the kids are trying to settle the estate. Their mother left behind danger, secrets, and trauma which the siblings have to solve/navigate.

Several people have compared this to Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman. I see the similarities but this one is darker because of the parental abuse and the witch element, to me, wasn’t developed as broadly. I would have liked to have deeper character development for all the siblings, had more flashbacks to childhood or maybe a dual timeline to give the reader more background. Also, I just really didn’t like the main character Victoria. She was just unpleasant and I didn’t really understand why until almost the end of the book but I would have liked to see her have some moments of emotional vulnerability earlier on to help temper that or more peeks into her past history.

Overall I just wanted more development of the magic/witch aspect of the book. That’s what drew me in and it was tepidly used there.

I liked this enough that I would be interested in trying some of Byrd Nash’s other work.
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An electronic copy was supplied by NetGalley for review purposes.

Trigger warnings: childhood abuse, attempted sexual assault, drowning, murder, suicide. Not very graphic but read at your own discretion.

Byrd Nash created a family that I wanted to dive into and investigate in 'A Spell of Rowans'. 

I wanted to understand the motivations of Rachel Rowan. I needed to know why Victoria Rowan abandoned Grimsby. I had to see how Liam was involved. I desired a picture of who Phillipa was and had become. I wanted answers about the murder in Grimsby. I needed to unravel the mystery of witchcraft and the Rowan magic.

Some of my demands were met and others have been sadly disappointed.

'A Spell of Rowans' dives straight into murder, conflict and mayhem when the cruel Rowan matriarch dies and her children reunite to manage the estate. It is quickly clear that Vic is returning to more than she bargained for when she encounters her childhood love, Reed Easton, on the train home and her brother is taken in to be questioned over the murder of their Mother's business partner. Worse, Reed, now FBI, is sitting in on the interview and witnesses both Liam and Vic use their powers.

A magical murder mystery, 'A Spell of Rowans' dives into the murder of Patty Maxwell, it's links to the death of Rachel Rowan and the unsolved cold case of Victor Rowan, unsolved for fifteen years.

Nash unravels the investigation slowly and carefully, revealing family secrets, dangerous magic and painful memories. As the past comes to light, the bonds between the Rowan siblings are tightened and love blossoms despite the danger.

I was completely drawn in by the characters, the mystery and the magic in 'A Spell of Rowans' but I am disappointed by how magic was managed. Their is no explanation of the mechanics of magic and a lot of it was just accepted by characters who existed outside the magic - I was desperate to understand how it worked and it was a very small part of the story despite being integral to the plot and characterisation.

I was most disappointed by the resolution - the events of the epilogue seemed to come out of nowhere, were set eight months after the conclusion of the main story, and was neatly tied-up outside the narrative which made it feel forced and incomplete.

That said, if there is another story about the Rowan family and their adventures in Grimsby - I will definitely add it to my to-read pile.
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Thank-you for the opportunity to read A Spell of Rowans, a fantasy come murder mystery tale about three siblings using their abilities to deal with the aftermath of their mother's death, the scorned town and their past. The book is an easy read, with plenty of twists to keep you guessing and likeable characters. If anything I wanted to see more of Liam's ability, the history of the items in Rosemary Thyme and the stories behind the characters hounded by Rachel Rowan for years.
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4.2 Stars 

Trigger Warning: Nonsexual child abuse, suicide, attempted sexual assault. 

Vic, aka, Victoria is called home to Grimsby by her elder sister Philippa. Their mother, the infamous narcissist, Rachel Rowan has died, and her three children have to settle the details. Vic agrees to her Philippa and their younger brother Liam in the town. 
She’s been away for too long, trying to escape the suffocating life with their mother. However, she knows that nothing involving Rachel will ever be easy. 
As an empath, Vic has spent her life trying to block’s emotions for messing with hers. Philippa was her opposite and charmed people around her. Liam could tell the history of whatever object he touched. And their dead mother, Rachel, had the knack of finding secrets and controlling others. 
Things take a turn for worse the moment Vic enters Grimsby. Though she’s not surprised, Vic realizes that she didn’t know a lot of things because she kept it that way. Liam seems to have suffered the most, and Vic feels torn between wanting to help and wondering if she should. 
The past, too, has been left dangling when Vic left, and it looks like Vic has no choice but to face her fears. With her siblings to support her, Vic finds alleys in two men with powerful positions. With one of them being close to her heart, can Vic survive the intensity of complicated emotions piling on top of one another? 
A Spell of Rowans is my first book by the author, and I'm impressed by her writing. The book really isn’t sci-fi or fantasy even. It’s more on the lines of a little paranormal here and there. Most of it is a family drama with some suspense and uncertain romance thrown in. 
Since I pretty much forgot the genre, I could enjoy the book without wondering about the lack of fantasy elements (on a large scale). Also, I tend to like books with just a little touch of fantasy, so this fits my reading preferences rather well. 
Another plus point is the writing flow. After ending up with a couple of slow books, this one relieved me. My pace got back to normal, and I added the extra 0.2 stars for the same. 
The story intrigued me from the first page and kept me hooked throughout. Vic is our narrator, and we see things from her perspective. She’s the kind of character I like to read- a bit vulnerable, a little headstrong, a bit impulsive but sensible, determined, caring, and capable of carrying the story on her shoulders. 
The other characters, Philippa, Liam, and Reed, were also well etched, though Hunter needed a little more. That said, I loved Liam’s character. He’s an endearing young man, who’s been through a lot, carries a lot of baggage, and yet is a compassionate man. 
Though Rachel is dead, we feel her presence throughout the book, just the way the author intended it. Her character is defined from the first. Yet, it’s only later that we begin to see the full extent of it. 
I wished some of it was shown earlier, kind of alternating with the present. That would have better sustained the momentum at the end. Also, this book isn’t high in atmosphere or descriptions. It has some and is easy to visualize, but those looking for the high atmospheric effect will be disappointed. I should’ve been too, but, guess I picked it up at the right time. This is what I needed now, and it worked for me. 
To sum up, A Spell of Rowans is not an easy book to read (refer to the triggers), but a worthy one. 
Thank you, NetGalley and Rook and Castle Press, for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
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I loved the premise of A Spell of Rowans, I was intrigued and loved it. Byrd Nash did an excellent job with A Spell of Rowans.
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I’ve been reading Byrd Nash’s books for a few years now. I have thoroughly enjoyed all of them. But, I have to say, this book, A Spell of Rowans, is my favorite so far. While it’s still full of magic and the unexplained, it is a step away from the Fae worlds she has created in the past. I get a definite Alice Hoffman vibe here.

Tragedy drove Victoria Rowan away from home 15 years ago. And, now, tragedy has brought her back home. Phillipa has been the dutiful daughter and stayed home to take care of their ailing mother. Liam was forced to stay.

Rachel Rowan, the siblings’ mother, was a controlling and abusive narcissist who was ruthless when it came to her children. To say that Vic, Phillipa, and Liam were glad to see her gone would be putting it lightly. Rightly so.

These characters are so well-written. They behave like grown children who were subjected to abuse and they could be anyone we know. But, these children had special abilities. I think their mother was afraid of them and maybe a little jealous because she didn’t have those abilities. We don’t know if Rachel used Vic or Phillipa’s abilities for her own gain. We do know that she forces Liam to use his ability for her evil schemes. 

Liam is probably my favorite character. I love his quirkiness and his to-the-point way of talking. Sometimes it’s comical. Most of the time it’s endearing. We get clues all along the way of his Autism. I like how he communicates with inanimate objects. The one scene that I love is when he is asked about how he knows a certain piece of information. He replies,

     “I went for an early morning walk. Before the world gets busy with people. I was standing outside
     the Rosemary Thyme, talking to one of the new street lamps. They aren’t really old. It’s a 
     reproduction, but many people stop there to cross the sidewalk, so it picks up gossip.”

The Rowan siblings are products of their traumatic childhood and now they just want it to be over but strange things begin to happen. One mystery leads to another and pretty soon all hell is breaking loose. Those scenes are intense and scary and done really well. Things aren’t overly graphic but enough so that you can feel what the characters are feeling.

There is more than one villain in this story. They are all despicable and deserve their comeuppance. You think you have it figured out and, surprise, you don’t. I love how Byrd winds everything up and ends on a “Yes!” Family really can be stronger than anything that comes against it.  

Small, quaint towns all look perfect when you drive through but more often than not, there are secrets behind the friendly waves and manicured lawns. I got a Stars Hollows facade with a Stepford Wives behind the scenes vibe. It was just so good and I hope Byrd takes us on more rides like this one!

I gave this book 5 stars and highly recommend it to fans of mystery/thriller, magical realism, and family drama. But please note the trigger warnings mentioned earlier. If talk of child abuse, death, violent attack, and childhood trauma is hard for you to read about, then take care with this story. It isn’t graphic but it is unsettling sometimes.
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A Spell of Rowans is a page- turner about 3 siblings. As the two sisters struggle to find proof that their brother didn't do it, there is more than just a who killed someone story. 
I love the flashbacks to explain their relationships and abilities. And how they work together as siblings so naturally that it hurts.
Plus, totally shipping Reed and Victoria! 
Truly spellbinding, and I hope it's not a standalone.
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Family drama with some fantasy elements. Kind of basic writing, but still sucks you in to an extent. I wanted more world building and more in depth characters.
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This was focused on a murder mystery, a hauntingly terrifying murder mystery and an extremely well developed cast of characters. First of all, it’s difficult to suggest why people do things the way they do. I think and feel this book explores that. Childhood abuse is difficult to read about so trigger warnings for that when you go in. I think the author did a great job of mixing up different genres and sub plots when you usually only see authors focus on one. Furthermore, the author does an amazing job at tackling childhood trauma. This was a 5 out of 5 star read  I ended up enjoying it a lot more then I originally thought I would.
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3.5 Stars

I needed to put some distance between myself and this book, it felt a little overwhelming just after I finished it. I did not like it at fist, but after I got into the story, I could not stop reading. I guess you could brand it as a fantasy, but also as a family drama, a trauma and abuse recovery story. It is set in the modern age smallish city of Grimsby, somewhere in the US. It is told in the first person's voice from Victoria Rowan.

The first few chapters give us a pretty comprehensive set up for the story: Vic tells the story, she and her siblings have some sort of talents (she can detect emotions in people, Phillipa is loved by everybody, Liam can feel the stories behinds objects by touching them). The book starts with the death of the matriarch, Rachel Rowan. Pretty soon we discover that Rachel Rowan was NOT a nice person, she was deeply disliked in Grimsby, her kids mistrusted. We also find out that the three siblings hated their mother, that their dad died in mysterious circumstances and that some people are still trying to find out what happened the day he died. And we meet Reed, Vic's ex from high school, son from the retired police chief, now an FBI agent, and the book's love interest.

By now as a reader you have realised that this is not your usual fantasy book, but rather a family drama with some  fantasy element. As the three siblings try to make sense of the family history while deciding what to do with the house, the furniture, the body, we find that abuse leaves its marks on people in very different ways, and that the path to recovery is deeply personal and cannot be forced. 

I loved the setting, the house with its beautiful rooms and furniture, but imho this could have been explored more. I felt like the memories haunting the rooms and objects could have given them more of a life of their own. Or maybe I just like creepy ghost stories. Additionally, and I admit this is personal taste, but for me that language is too casual, too everyday, it lacks some depth, and I would have welcomed more lyricism.  

TRIGGER WARNING: Obviously child abuse but NOT of a sexual nature. It is sometimes quite disturbing (lake scene, for instance), also, much less graphic, attempted sexual assault, suicide, drowning, murder.
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The figure out why everyone hatecover of this book is absolutely stunning, and the description intrigued me; so of course I had to read it. This book follows The Rowan Family. All of them have magical powers and each have their own past. One thing they all have in common, however, is their controlling mother Racheal. Racheal owns a Rosemary Thyme store and is known in town as a scorned woman who you do not want to be intertwined with. 
After Racheal's death, her 3 children Vic, Phillipa and Liam come together and use their powers tod their mom, and also Liam gets accused of killing her and they know he did not do it. 
I really liked how the story took turns when you least expect it, and it was not predictable at all. Just when you think its all said and done, boom another turn it takes. I was impressed of the flow of the book and found myself reading past my bed night. 
 What I would have liked more of is the back story of their magic and how they learned to use their gifts. Also in the description it states that Racheal (the mom) was narcissistic, however I felt that part did fall flat. Having my own narcisstic mother, I felt that the mom could use more snark and passive aggressiveness. Was she controlling? Absolutely, however I would have liked a little more. 
All in all, this book was solid and would recommend it to my friends and family if your looking for a thriller that touches on magic, murder and mayhem. Thank you net Galley for my ARC and honest review.
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The description for “A Spell of Rowans” implied that the book would be an interesting magical mystery and Byrd Nash delivered. I appreciate the sense of naturalism Nash incorporated in the story through their choice to place the setting in the reader’s world and the characterization of the stories. The story is first-person narrative told from the perspective of the main character Vic who is a bit tricky to understand initially. The magic isn’t an overwhelming aspect but allows the story to slowly progress as you read and discover more. 

The only thing I didn’t necessarily like about the story was the constant repetition of names and use of full names. A character’s legal name could appear up to 4 times on the same page across a couple of paragraphs and it became a bit annoying. The pacing of the story at the beginning was also a bit awkward and fast but became more manageable and natural as the novel progressed.
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Vic left home fifteen years ago under a dark cloud and she hasn’t been back since. Her new life in the city is built carefully around privacy and solitude and painstakingly constructed boundaries. When her mother dies, finally, Vic is finally drawn home to deal once and for all with her ghosts – and there might be even more ghosts than she remembers. In order to solve her mother’s murder she will have to join together with her equally traumatised siblings, hoping that they can forgive her for abandoning them. Only when every sordid truth has been unearthed will they finally have peace. 

The magic in this is a thread throughout, tying together the family and the mystery and the town. I enjoyed the unique approach to introducing magic into a setting; the town seemed aware of the magic, but didn’t fully understand it, and they appeared in equal measures to be accepting of its presence whilst also rejecting those who practiced as ‘different’. Outside of the family it doesn’t seem to be talked about, but when it is mentioned people don’t seem overly surprised or suspicious. This allowed the magic to be integrated seamlessly into the narrative without being a big focus that detracted from the mystery. Liam’s magic was particularly fascinating, especially with the difficulties that it presented to him in his everyday life. 

Overall this book was an easy read. I was intrigued by the mystery without being overtaken by it, meaning that I could take my time in reading the book and enjoy the smaller scenes which added their own magic even if they didn’t aid the overall plot. Whilst everything did end up being solved in a bit of a rush at the end, I found I didn’t mind as much because I was reading for the characters and their emotional journey more than anything else.
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“A room that would always be perfect”
“Ding dong, Mother, the witch is dead.”
“When evil dies, do you mourn its loss?”
Have you ever watched “The Hunting of Hill House”? Well if you haven’t , then read this book and then go and watch it.
There’s no lie in saying that it completely caught me off-guard and it was so surprising, I literally couldn’t put it down.
The story , as well as the characters, completely enchanted me to the point that I didn’t know what was real and what was not.
“This return to normality could not last”
I loved how the author decided to develop the plot , mixing mystery , magic and thriller all the while dealing with terrible and problematic issues.
Brotherhood, children abuse, trust issues, past trauma, skeletons in the closet, magical abilities, empathy and romantic love… this book has them all.
“Like a scene from a romance, I thought he might kiss me.”
“The lid is off Pandora’s box. You can’t keep it shut now.”
I loved each and every one of those characters despite some of their evident flaws. They all taught me something during the reading experience that I’ll deeply cherish.
I really liked the writing style the author used; it made the book not too tough or complicated to read while trying to pass as many important messages as possible.
“Creating art leaves room in the spirit for little else.”
“Life has its difficulties. Challenges. Problems. But love makes it easier to deal with it.”
“Love is magic. And magic comes in threes,Pip. I don’t make the rules”
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This book grabbed me right away and I was captivated all the way through. A mix of magic, evil, family issues, and murder in a small town. I really loved the gifts of the Rowan siblings, and Vic’s gift of empathy felt so real. I loved the unusual connection with Reed. I loved watching how characters changed through the story. I loved how both the home and the town (well, and every object!) seemed to have their own personalities or characters. I admit to being surprised by the ending. It was good, though, and I plan to reread because I think it would be just as good but also fun to pick up hints I may have missed. 

I read this as an arc from netgalley but am buying my own copy.
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I really did want to love this. I loved the concept and plot however I wish it gave more detail and substance. More magic? More family? I’m not sure but it felt like something was missing.
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A fun paranormal mystery, but the story doesn't really delve into the family's magic or work very hard to develop the characters. The pacing is very good, though.
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Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read this book.
I liked this book.
It was fun enough and I did finish it, 
but i kinda felt like the story was lacking something that could have made it great.
I'm not really sure what it was, maybe I just read this book at the wrong time. 
I don't really know... 
If this book sounds interesting to you, I would recommend it as I feel like a lot of people would love it. 
Sadly I just was not one of them...
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