Book Title: Oak & Mistletoe
Author: J.Z.N. McCauley
Reviewed By: Chelsea
Series: Oak & Mistletoe #1
Genres: YA, Fantasy, Fiction
Date Read: 03/04/17
Pub Date: 10/11/16
3.5 STARS (Rounded up to 4 on GR)
Catherine Green, along with her twin sister and older brother, travels to Ireland on a college graduation trip. Her vacation takes a permanent turn when she lands her dream job at an art and history museum on her beloved Emerald Isle. She meets a handsome stranger named Bowen, an expert of sorts on local ancient studies. Though their first meetings are turbulent at best, Catherine finds herself drawn to him.
Unaware that she is the key to breaking a hidden curse, Catherine unleashes the evil madman Conall and his druid followers, imprisoned since ancient times. Tragedy and loss ensue, sprouting within Catherine the deep seeds of rage that thrust her onto the damaging path of vengeance. Confused by the enigma that is Bowen, his mixed signals, and her own feelings, she is swept away with him on an unexpected journey surrounded by myth and long-forgotten knowledge. In order to stop the evil plans of Conall and his reunified army, Catherine must entwine her fate with peril. Her survival is trivial to her as long as Conall dies. She’ll do whatever it takes.
I know I tagged this book as Young Adult, but I almost feel it should go under the New Adult category, even though that has a bad connotation for some readers. Most NA books these days tend to be Erotica of some sort (which this was not); however, the main characters featured here were in their mid-twenties and the plot gave us the same feeling as a YA Fantasy, which I found really exciting and a bit unique. The age difference, plus the setting of Ireland is what initially drew me in to wanting to review this book and I’m really glad I read it. If I thought I wanted to visit Ireland before, I now know I have a burning desire to get there as soon as physically possible.
The plot here is where I was a bit torn; I felt I wanted a little more depth and detail, as it was a fairly short and quick read, but it was very well written and complex. Knowing that this is book one in the series I’m confident the author will give us even more in the next read, and I’m truly hooked to the point I’m excited to move on to book 2 (coming fall 2017). I found myself absolutely caught up in the descriptions of the setting; this book was so atmospheric that I wondered if McCauley is a native of, or has lived in Ireland at some point. I was highly impressed with the amount of research behind, and accuracy of the mythology and history involving Irish culture and found myself googling quite a bit to check if pieces were true. This lady knows her stuff, and if I ever had a question surrounding Ireland she’s the first person I would call. Maybe she can be my road trip buddy! 🙂
The pacing was extremely fast here, and if you enjoy a different kind of Fantasy with a YA feel I would highly recommend picking this one up. There are so many books in the genre that are focusing on the future with a Sci-Fi aspect that I think it’s refreshing to read something with an “old soul” feel to it. This truly has all the appeal of historical fiction without feeling “boring” or “dated”. I’ve always been a fan of the tales of old in various cultures, and this was a shining example of how to incorporate those tales for a younger audience who wouldn’t usually give this type of read a go. I’m very excited to see where the next book goes, as it left me wanting more (I wouldn’t necessarily call it a cliff hanger, but it did leave a void that needs filling). Many readers who are looking for a less mainstream read will enjoy Oak & Mistletoe.
*Many thanks to the author for providing my review copy; it was a pleasure to provide an honest review.