A Spell of Rowans

Magic and troubles come in threes.

The Rowan family: Victoria, whose empathic talent reads hidden feelings. Phillipa, with a glamour that bewitches. Liam, who can touch an object to reveal its past.

We all had our magic twisted by our mother’s games, but after her death, I thought it was safe to come back home. Instead, the police haul in my autistic brother for questioning about a murder, while my sister knows what Mother was really doing. Hint: nothing good.

And that hometown boy I dumped? He’s now with the FBI and thinks he knows the truth about me.

“Swathed in small-town gossip and values, the fantastical novel – combines murder mystery, magic, and mayhem for an exciting tour of a family’s history and trauma.” – 5 stars, Clarion review

An emotional page-turner about healing from a haunted past. Perfect for fans of Practical Magic, Garden Spells, and The Witches of New York.

  • 2021 Foreword INDIES Gold Winner in Fantasy
  • Gold Winner, Literary Titan
  • Silver Winner, Readers Favorite
  • 150+ Reviews on Amazon
  • 290+ ratings on Goodreads

Available to Bookstores and Libraries through:

  • Ingram Spark 978-1-954811-03-4
  • Draft2Digital 978-1-954811-00-3

Read the entire Industry Reviews by

Suitable for 18+, contains scenes of childhood trauma and adult abuse.

NETGALLEY READERS LOVE A SPELL OF ROWANS

“Alright alright alright – This was an unexpected hit with me. This was not I repeat this was not a fantasy or romance book. It was (imo) adult fiction, with a bit of fantasy, and some (maybe minor) elements/influences of mystery. I was completely immersed in this book, and I connected with the characters more than I expected. –Nash is famously meticulous with character development, and her writing is (again, as always) a wild but really well written ride to the end.

The balance of this book is what makes it – the actual plot was so well aligned with the subplots, and honestly every time I thought I knew what was coming I didn’t. Great writing, and as always I’m here for worlds with a more… subtle magic.”

“I enjoyed reading this book so much that I had to read it twice. It’s fascinating and affecting because it has the elements of mystery, magic, and, most importantly, family drama.

At first, I was under the impression that it would be a fantasy/magic kind of book, but it turns out to be more than that. The ‘magic’ element isn’t even that prominent in the book. It tackles more on how these siblings cope and grew together after enduring years of abuse from their mother.

I love the characterization of each character. I particularly adore the interaction of the siblings and the little romance in there. (And speaking of romance, you have got to watch out for Reed—I think we all need a person like Reed in our lives.) I also enjoyed the fact that it kept me guessing until the end about their mother’s death -“

“This was an incredibly creative storyline. I don’t believe I’ve ever read anything quite like it before. It can’t be classified as any one genre. It definitely could fall under several different ones. I was quite intrigued. In addition to the great paranormal plot, there is a mystery surrounding it all that is done extremely well. To top it off, there are some underlying romances brewing throughout the story as well. This novel was an absolute delight to read. Oh, and the cover is incredible!!

“The writing felt very real in the sense that it successfully made me terrified of Rachel and almost made me believe that maybe I’m one of her victims as well and let us not forget the excellent depiction of emotions. This book got me hooked up from the very first page and I would overall describe it as captivating, mind blowing and the perfect combo of contemporary with thrilling magic. This may be one of my top five reads this year.”

“With high tension, I found myself struggling to put this book down because of the twists and secrets revealed. It’s clever, imaginative and a good example of how magic and suspense can blend with contemporary fiction.

The cover of this book is absolutely stunning. I would love to see this book become a series.”

“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.”

“-a unique blend of family drama, mystery, with just a touch of magic. — plot is focused more around the Rowan family dynamic and the lingering effects of their child abuse at the hands of their mother.

— I felt completely invested in our character’s lives and would actually love to read an additional story about the Rowan siblings. — This was just an interesting and unique story. It does have a few topics that could be triggering for some people, but overall Byrd does a great job of portraying the events without being overly graphic.

“The cover of this book is absolutely stunning. I would love to see this book become a series.”

Wow!! — I felt like I really had a connection with each and every one. I was amazed at how the author made Rachel such an ever present person in the book.”

“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. — 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.”

“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 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.”

“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.”

“I read the book overnight because once started could not put it down.”

“This book is captivating, it moved and flowed quickly so I never wanted to set it down for a break, I just read it all the way through in one sitting. — I usually only read the top winners on best sellers and Good Reads Readers’ Choice awards, this book, “The Spell of Rowans” belongs right at the top of all those lists. This is a fantastically entertaining read, one of those books that you cannot predict where it is going next and are just hooked from the first page.”

“This is really an emotional page-turner.”

“Byrd Nash really put her heart heart and soul into this book. The characters and plot were very well written giving a very engrossing story, I was hooked from the first chapter!

“A Spell of Rowans is absolutely fascinating. I was totally, totally immersed in the story. It certainly succeeds in provoking emotional responses. I felt deep sadness for what the children endured, pure rage for how horrible their mother was, and great uncertainty over where the danger is coming from. There were definitely some gasp-worthy moments!”

Wow. This one is a beautiful work of art. Loved the story, the siblings bond, the misteries, the twists… I’m really glad for Philippa, Vic and Liam. This is really an emotional page-turner.”

“Once I started this book, I could not put it down!

“The three siblings, the Rowans, their powers are really interesting and elaborated on enough that you start seeing the complexities, the curse and the blessing. How it impacts their lives, and how they might use them to their advantages.

Their relationship is also really well established and complicated. — There’s good memories and bad, regrets and resentment and gratitude. I just loved every interaction between the Rowans.

The trauma depicted in the story, from being abused to being assaulted, is real and not downplayed. The small glimpses we see of their history, the traces it left on them, are horrifying and makes you want to murder a dead woman.”

“-great dialogue and a mystery that makes the book a real page turner.”

“I highly recommend this book. There’s mystery, drama and dark humor. It was full of magic, twists and turns; surprises that kept you on the edge of your seat. It’s a story about heartache, death, family, and redemption as the Rowan’s try to clear their family name and make amends for their mother’s dark deeds.”

“The book deals with difficult family dynamics, and also social issues such as autism and mental health in a way that was considerate and not too in your face. The plot left you wanting more with each page, and the character building was everything I always hope for. There were twists and mystery that Nash built well. I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of magic integrated into the modern day.”

The thing that binds all of the factors of the story is the writing. I was held in place by the writing style and the imagery provided and finished this in a sitting or two.

The was a perfect combination of magic, family trials and tribulations, a little mystery, some funny wit and banter, and of course, love. You couldn’t help but root for the Rowans after all they had been through (thank you for the trigger warnings!). A wild ride, but one that I wanted to be on because I so loved the Rowan siblings – I couldn’t put the book down.

A Spell of Rowans by Byrd Nash not only had a stunning cover, but it was SO good. It had a fascinating, twisty, well-written plot that absolutely just held me in its grip to the end.

A Spell of Rowans is an interesting mystery given a twist with touches of magic, but it’s more a compelling story of family, of three adults who were abused while growing up but who find their way back to each other and to overcoming what they went through.

This was a very well written story involving magic and a well developed mystery.

Nash’s smart, witty writing quickly turns this paranormal whodunit into something more memorably special than your usual urban fantasy. The characters are all layered and complex, the setting utterly convincing and the writing sufficiently edgy that I wasn’t convinced that the very appealing protagonists were going to prevail.

“A Spell of Rowans” grabs you by the lapels and refuses to let go until you finish the book.

The layered mysteries within the story kept me guessing until the very end.

I read this book in 2 days, it was so hard to put down. I liked the characters, the story, everything! It was very engaging and I really enjoyed the way curses and special powers were used in the book.

A book best described as magical realism, it also a satisfying story about a family torn by shame, guilt, abuse, and the complexities of being born into a name and a power that seem to overshadow the workings of who we are outside of them- not least of all by the figures of who we are perceived to be, pushed to be by others, and then turn out to be when we finally speak for ourselves.

Such mistake I did, starting this one before bed… Literally read in one sitting 😍
The writing is masterful, thriller with a hint of paranormal and spiced with humor and some love story.

This book was mesmerizing. From the minute I picked it up I was pulled into the lives of the Rowan siblings. Immediately drawn to them as the experience of their childhood trauma unfolded on the pages. The cast of characters are a tangled complicated brilliance, showing how beautifully done character development can be.

A Spell of Rowans is so much more than a magical story, it’s a gripping tale of family dynamics, abuse, autism, murder, small-town life, and so much more.

Byrd Nash takes the reader and slowly builds the backstory. Piece by piece, the story begins to take shape until the reader becomes a part of the story.

This is a most glorious book but difficult to classify: magic, magical realism, murder, possible murder, mystery, small town vibes, rekindled romance, police and legal procedure, to name but a few. Yet somehow it works, and I had to finish it and ultimately recommend it.

This book has well written characters, a great mysterious plot, a little bit of romantic tension, and some magic. I love this author’s writing style and look forward to reading more of her books.

They seemed so real that I felt their pain, cried for them, cried with them, felt for them.

“A Spell of Rowans” was spellbinding… Byrd Nash weaved an interesting mystery with plenty of twists and turns. It’s darker at times – these characters feel very real and have experienced some traumatic events in their lives – but the plot moves seamlessly between events and leads up to an unexpected finale.

The plot was complex and with many layers of truth hidden inside. There were times when I really did not want to put this book down. Reading Byrd Nash’s novel was a bit like peeling an onion. So much was hidden and in need of discovery.

CLICK TO READ THE FIRST CHAPTER

A Spell of Rowans

My brush was finishing the left nostril of the Madonna when the call came. From long practice, I ignored the ringing and smoothly completed the stroke on the board. Painted in the late 15th century, the portrait’s age demanded respect, even from a modern device.

I stepped back from the painting and examined my restoration work with a critical eye. Nice. I turned off the lamp.

I was cleaning my brushes when the phone rang for the third time. Wiping my hands on a towel, I tapped the phone, putting my sister on the speakerphone to hear her announcement.

“She’s dead.”

The cutting of the bond between myself and my mother early this morning had woken me from a dead sleep. I thought I was past the need for confirmation but found myself asking anyway, “It was around 1:30, wasn’t it?”

“Yes.” There was a pause before Phillipa said, her voice breaking, “Ding dong.”

I couldn’t agree more. Indeed, the witch was dead. I asked Phillipa, “What’s the plan?”

My older sister was a big planner. I imagined she would have a mental spreadsheet in her head of what she would do once our mother died. It wasn’t like she hadn’t had time to plan: our parent broken her hip a couple of months ago, and her decline since had been steady. Her long-desired death was not exactly an unexpected event.

“How soon can you get here? There are things we need to discuss as a family and not on the phone.”

“I’ll come this evening via train.”

“You sure? What about the crowds? Wouldn’t a rental car be better?”

“It’s fine. A crowd is anonymous. I’ll be okay. Besides, I let my driver’s license expire.”

Phillipa let big-sister exasperation leak into her voice. “Really, Vic? What if you needed ID?” When I didn’t respond, she gave an aggrieved sigh. “Will you stay at the house?”

“Seems easiest.”

“Liam refuses to go inside.”

My brother had a talent for psychometry, a method of reading an object’s past by touching them. I could only imagine how uncomfortable he would feel within the family home. However, a house empty of people presented no danger to my talent. I only needed to keep the right doors closed.

My mind was on death, both past and present, so Phillipa’s next words jarred me out of my abstraction. “Will work give you any trouble?”

“During the summer? For the death of a family member? No trouble at all.”

When I called to ask for time off, my boss at the university was all caring concern. That didn’t surprise me. Tony was a soft jelly type of man who remembered his staff’s birthdays and always let them have a half-day on the Friday before a holiday weekend.

Whenever I had to be in the same room with him, his emotions were like being stuck in marshmallow-goo. I tried to keep as much physical distance as I could between us; I didn’t want to get attached to niceness. It was messy.

“Take as much time as you need. Losing a parent is hard.”

Was it? Probably for normal people with average parents, it was. For now, I was still assessing my own psychic damage. I probed that lost emotional connection, like a tongue touching the place where a tooth was suddenly missing. Eventually, I would get used to the sensation of loss. Life continued. That I knew.

For now, though, I was feeling lightheaded, floaty, from the relief of Rachel Rowan’s death. Tony’s voice on the other side of the phone startled me.

“Where should we send flowers?”

“I’ll let you know when I get the details.”

Ha! Flowers? He should send a bouquet of vervain and dill. But for all of Tony’s historical knowledge, I doubted he would get a reference to plants traditionally used to ward off witches.

“What about the Madonna? Do you want me to return her to the university?”

“Your studio is secure, and covered by insurance. It would be safer there, for now. I have my hands full here with an emergency fumigation. Some idiot brought in a cardboard box from outside, and now everyone is seeing bugs.”
My studio, where I worked by myself, far from people, was indeed secure. Its security system was probably better than the university’s.

“I’ll keep you updated about my plans by email,” I told him.

Taking the train was a calculated risk. I chose a time when it would be crowded with people all rushing to get home from work, their tired minds on getting dinner and not much else. The larger the crowd, the more muddled the emotional output. My empath abilities registered it as white noise.

I watched the scenery flying by. The train was already out of the city, passing through the suburbs. It was all achingly familiar, and the dead link between me and my mother gave me an eerie feeling. Like I had forgotten something.

But I hadn’t. That was the problem. I hadn’t forgotten a damn thing.

At each stop, more passengers left to enjoy their ordinary lives. This line would eventually take me to Grimsby. It was the last stop before the train returned.

Tired from my interrupted sleep last night, I found my head starting to nod. My forehead pressed against the cool glass of the window, and to the rocking of the train, I fell asleep.

In the water, I was drowning. My hands flailed upward, trying to connect with something, anything. A hand pushed my head under the surface. I opened my mouth to scream. Stinking lake water entered my mouth, suffocating me.

I awoke with a start, choking, my heart pounding from fright. Still panicked, a voice made me jerk in surprise like a frightened deer.

“Pleasant dream, Vic?”

The carriage was now empty except for a man sitting opposite me, nearest to the aisle. A face I had known once as softer, more lively. Now his features held the neutral stillness of the experienced hunter. It assessed me with stony eyes.

My talent hit a blank emotional wall. I knew only one person that could do that: Reed Easton.

Like I didn’t have enough ghosts from the past. Some of what I felt must have shown on my face, for he said with a voice deeper than I remembered, “Not pleased to see me, old friend?”

“Good evening, Reed.”

He gave a gracious nod of his head, as if he were royalty, acknowledging a peasant. I wondered how long Reed had sat there watching me sleep. Was his interest creepy or romantic? Knowing how we had parted fifteen years ago, my guess veered towards unsettling. And dangerous.

As if he had read my thoughts, he asked, “Returning to Grimsby after all these years?”

I might not be able to read his emotions, but I was experienced in matching feelings to faces and words. He still held a grudge about how we had parted while I had no regrets over burning that bridge. I was a talented bridge-burner, and had learned long ago: never look back to see the fire.

Suddenly, I became aware of how wrinkled my shirt was. Wearing the most paint-stained but comfortable jeans from my closet did not exactly scream: ‘look at how successful I am without you in my life.’

I pulled the sympathy card. “My mother died.”

“Ding dong, huh?”

Considering my mother’s reputation in Grimsby, I had already figured the turnout for any memorial service wouldn’t be numerous. But Reed’s words made me wonder. Maybe a crowd of Grimsby residents, all holding pitchforks, would storm the house, wanting confirmation that the witch was dead. As well as her spawn.

“Your sister seems to be doing well.”

“Yes, she is.”

How much longer before we pulled into Grimsby station? Could I could excuse myself and hide in the bathroom?
“And Liam?”

I tried not to wince. Liam was not faring well. He had his reasons, but I wasn’t sharing them. I said politely, “He’s fine.”

Reed gave a small chuckle that I remembered all too well. “Still hiding the truth, Vic?”

I saw the silhouette of the town’s water tower against the setting sun. Good, not much longer. I reminded myself to act like an ordinary human being. I was experienced with pretending.

Keeping my voice level, I asked pleasantly, “Your family?”

“Fine,” he said, giving a smile that was sarcastic, acknowledging the game we played.

The adult version of his face had no softness, only angles. Reed, once a star athlete on the high-school swim team, was still lean and muscular. He wore crisp jeans, sharply pressed, a light blue jacket, and an Oxford shirt with the top button undone. It all fitted with immaculate tailoring. Well. Hm.

The train stopped. I practically jumped from my seat and grabbed my bag from under the seat. Slinging the strap over my shoulder, and my eyes downcast, I muttered, “It was nice seeing you after all this time—”

With the speed of a cat, Reed was at the door, blocking my exit with his arm. He bent to me, his breath on my ear softly fluttering my hair. I shivered.

“Was it nice? Seeing me?” he asked softly.

I kept my eyes forward, looking straight through the glass to the platform beyond. Freedom was so close. When I didn’t answer, he pulled back, his light jacket flaring open with the movement.

I shoved the door open as fast as possible. As I hurried away, I wondered why my old high-school boyfriend would be wearing a gun.

END OF CHAPTER ONE

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A Spell of Rowans is a full length novel with a contemporary Magical Realism setting.
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