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review SPOILER ALERT! 2019-07-27 20:29
Legacy of Hunger
Legacy of Hunger: Druid's Brooch Series: #1 - Christy Nicholas

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Legacy of Hunger book 1 of Druid’s Brooch is the first book I read by Christy Nicholas. I came to know about the author from a few blog tours I hosted of her books in this series and have always been rather intrigued by the covers... then I read the blurb of book 1 and found it to be a freebie so I grabbed it. TBH it was quite an unexpected journey!


Legacy of Hunger is an odd book. Slow and kind of gloomy but not at all unpleasant. The writing and the research was pretty fair and I enjoyed the pace. But the story was slow-moving and dark because of the subject matter which it centered around. The story is set in 1846, begins in America and ends in Ireland. The heroine (I’m not even sure if I should call her as such… she definitely was the only main character) Valentia had always been moved by the stories her Irish maternal grandmother had told her when she was young. She was fascinated by everything it entailed; the magic, the myth and everything in between. But what Valentia found the most intriguing was the story of an abandoned brooch—a family heirloom—that was left behind when she left Ireland many years ago. Now there was no saying if the brooch even existed or not. What I could gather from the vague recollection of Valentia of her now deceased grandmother, is that she may have encouraged her to look for it. But whatever the reason was, Valentia, now at 23 or 24, wanted to go visit Ireland. If only her ancestral land was her only interest here, that would’ve sufficed. However, Valentia was so obsessed with a drawing of the brooch she was given that she was totally ready to go on a wild goose chase in a land completely unknown to her.

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review 2017-02-16 00:29
Legacy of Luck
Legacy of Luck (Druid's Brooch Series, #3) - Christy Nicholas
This is the third book in the Druid Brooch Series but a stand alone novel. Ireland, travelers, castles, mystical things and great characters make for an enjoyable read. Eamon is a horse trader and along with his father and siblings are at a fair to trade. Kate and her sister Deirdre are also at the fair, their parents are nasty people and the father arranges for Kate to be married. The traveler's women always have the option to say no to prospective mates but Kate's father doesn't give her the opportunity, so off she goes with her husband. She tells her husband that she will not consummate the marriage until she meets with her father in law and thus starts the tumultuous journey of Kate and Eamon trying to find her and rescue her!

I enjoyed this story, especially the mystical part with the Druid's brooch which Eamon inherited from his father. The characters were well written and the storyline believable, I kind of wish there had been more detail about the brooch and the powers that the brooch had and the history of said brooch. That said, I learned a bit more about the Travelers, not to be confused with Gypsies. Even though they rarely set down roots, their lifestyle is interesting. This is a story that will sweep you away into a time of bygone Ireland. An enjoyable read for sure!
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review 2016-07-04 00:00
Legacy of Truth
Legacy of Truth - Christy Nicholas Legacy of Truth - Christy Nicholas Legacy Of Truth (Druid’s Brooch Series #2)
Christy Nicholas
$0.99 on Kindle

A tale of magic and love in 1800s Ireland

Author Christy Nicholas’s first book in this series, “Legacy of Hunger,” wonderfully demonstrated her love for Ireland and Irish culture and history. This second book, “Legacy of Truth,” keeps those strengths and adds more—memorable characters, powerful conflict and a nuanced exploration of what is family, what is love and how one is to navigate the choices life throws one.

We meet Esme, the “good” twin in a pair of twin sisters, as a young girl nearing young womanhood. Her life is set in motion by two things—her Grandfa bequeathing her a slightly magical heirloom brooch and her selection of a husband from her suitors. Both lead to a schism with her remaining family, as she must leave her home to follow her new husband and conceal from her jealous twin the precious heirloom. Without spoiling the journey for readers, both the brooch and Esme’s continuing decisions about loving companions frame the course of her life and the drama in the story.

The writing is smooth and well-edited, with a vivid and detailed concreteness that beautifully supports the enthralling world created by the author, a world that begins in the 1780s in small towns in Ireland. I greatly enjoyed the flashes of Irish folklore and moments of magic, more organically integrated into the story in this volume than in the first book. The characters are real and human, with distinct personalities and motives. I particularly enjoyed Esme’s friendship with her neighbor Aisling, a surprising and sweet love. Esme herself, while “good” relative to her scheming and ambitious twin Eithne, is flawed and human, struggling with life’s challenges as we all do, and failing at times to be perfect and upright. While I questioned Esme’s decisions and judgment around love at times, I never found them to be forced or false but rather a natural outgrowth of her worldview and understanding as a simple woman in a small town, far from the worlds of sophisticates and lords and ladies. This is not a plot-driven tale of high adventure, but rather a chance to live in and explore another time and place and society through the life of a sympathetic and engaging character.

Recommendation: for readers of historical fiction who enjoy Ireland and the tiniest hint of magic, and well-drawn humble characters living real lives and a gentle tale pulled inexorably forward by the main character’s decisions about how to live her life.
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review 2016-05-23 00:00
Legacy of Hunger (Druid's Brooch Series, #1)
Legacy of Hunger (Druid's Brooch Series, #1) - Christy Nicholas A compelling tour of 1840s Ireland

Author Christy Nicholas obviously loves Ireland, Irish legends and the period of history she has chosen to write about, the 1840s in Ireland, the time of the potato blight and much suffering in the Irish common people. Whenever her clean, spare prose turned to Irish faery tales, or descriptions of the land and people, I could see and feel a warm glow on the page as her love for the time and people shone through. There is much to enjoy and savor within these pages, especially for those drawn to the period and the place.

And so I settled in for the story, now on a ship, now in a bumpy carriage, now running from men who would do heroine Valentia harm. Sad things happened, tragic circumstances arose. These tragic events did not rise to the level of drama, in the sense of a purposeful hero pursuing a meaningful end and meeting powerful resistance. They were just sad, tragic distractions on a single-minded journey.

Valentia had goals and motivations aplenty, and Nicholas crafted in her a subtle and nuanced character who did grow and evolve on her bumpy journey. And yet, as a reader, although I rather liked Valentia, carefully drawn flaws and all, and I was perfectly happy to join her on that journey, eventually I found myself waiting for The Story, the heart of her journey, to begin, and it never did, or not in a satisfying way for this reader. When we arrived, rather abruptly, and in strangely summarized form, at the end, I was startled to discover no real hook into the next book in the series, where perhaps The Story proper could begin now that the world and main character had been so carefully drawn.

I struggle to explain what was missing for me, for Valentia did all the things a good hero should do, persisting in the face of obstacles, developing kindness and compassion to overcome defects in her upbringing and blinkers in her world view. She was active, not passive. She made the choices about her journey, not the men or the servants or the mentors she met on her path. If I attempt, imperfectly, to summarize my feeling as a reader, it is that I was a passenger on someone else’s long and circuitous and often colorful and interesting journey, but I never knew where we were going or precisely why, and neither did Valentia, other than her quest to find an old brooch. And that is a terrible summary, for it was clear from the beginning that we were going to Ireland to search for grandmother’s brooch, which may or may not have magical powers, and that is precisely what we did, no matter the many obstacles. I just found myself wanting more powerful motivation than a comfortably raised young woman’s whim to go in search of an old brooch.

I’ve heard it said that “Satisfaction is Reality divided by Expectations,” and perhaps therein lies my personal difficulty with this finely wrought yet ultimately dissatisfying work, the expectations I brought to the read. I was never quite sure what to expect, although I had been told to expect a historical fantasy, a genre I much enjoy. One of the challenges of the genre is the balance between historical and fantastical elements. Nicholas went heavy on the historical side, which I quite enjoyed by the way, and the care she took in her research shows, with slight hints of the fantasy that burst into full view only at the very end. That is fine, and a perfectly acceptable decision for a creator to make, and yet I found it a bit confusing as a reader, for I found myself waiting for the “fantasy stuff’ to begin and start driving the story but it never really did. The author created a kind of glass pane and distance between the reader and the experience of magic, in that the legends were told and described, as though a scholar were explaining to the reader bits of Irish faery legend, rather than allowing the reader to experience them in person as occurred only very occasionally in the book. Rather we were treated to small bits of Irish faery legends here and there in conversation and a few magical moments, but the fantasy never really took root but felt pasted on at the end. I wonder if a stronger choice in either direction might have been less confusing for readers and avoided some of that impatient waiting feeling I experienced, either light up the fantasy side faster and bigger earlier, or tell a straight historical fiction tale without the magic.

Recommendation: for readers who wish to learn more about Ireland of the 1840s, this is a thoroughly researched and lovingly drawn sketch of Ireland in that time. It lacks drama as a story, although the journey is an interesting and informative one, and the main character appealing in her very human mix of virtues and flaws.
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