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Byrd Nash
A Spell of Rowans
Byrd Nash, author
With their magical talents twisted by a traumatic past, the Rowan siblings must face the deadly fallout of blackmail, murder, and magic after their mother's death. An emotional page-turner.
This light fantasy from Nash (author of the College Fae series and more) follows the three Rowan siblings–Victoria, Phillipa, and Liam–as they face the aftermath of their mother’s death and the fact that all three may be targets of a potential murderer. Rachel, their mother, was an abusive parent and all-around bad person. The siblings realize that, prior to her death, she had been blackmailing residents of the town, leading to a long list of suspects for her murder. Led by Victoria, the Rowan siblings are forced to confront the traumatic past that splintered them from one another and try to save themselves and their town of Grimsby from their mother’s legacy.

The characters and their evolving relationships are one of this engaging story’s strongest elements. Victoria, who hasn’t been home in fifteen years, has a particularly tender connection with her younger brother Liam, who may be on the autism spectrum. She also rekindles a potential romance with Reed, her old high school boyfriend, that proves sweet and satisfying. Nash also remains adept at pacing. The story moves quickly, never getting bogged down in unnecessary exposition even as it addresses themes of recovery, family, and forgiveness. Chapters end on strong hooks, and the twists and turns are well-planned, exciting, and emotionally satisfying.

While the sparse prose moves the story along quickly, occasionally the reader may appreciate more detail, such as more specifics regarding the family home and the town itself to more securely anchor the story time and space. While the story is told from Victoria’s first-person perspective, Nash limits reader access to her inner world beyond the immediate moment being narrated. Still, while it at times favors momentum over depth, A Spell of Rowans is an entertaining, moving story that readers of family sagas, sibling dynamics, and fantasy set in our contemporary world will enjoy.

Takeaway: Family drama meets magic with a touch of romance in this fast-paced fantasy.

Great for fans of: Julia Rochester’s The House at the Edge of the World, Tara Conklin’s The Last Romantics.

Production grades
Cover: B+
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A