- Author: Alys West
- Published: December 2015 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
- Category: Urban Fantasy, Romance
Finn McCloud is a druid, connected by magic to the earth. He’s made a big mistake; one that could cost him his life.
Maeve Blackwell has plans for a new start, free of the façade she so carefully maintains. At Beltane, the Celtic festival of fire, all her preparations will come to fruition.
Struggling artist Zoe Rose is in Glastonbury to work on the illustrations for a book. But when she arrives at Anam Cara, the healing retreat run by Maeve, she finds it’s not the haven she hoped for.
Opening with a terrific prologue which grabbed my interest immediately, Beltane has a lot of factors I love in a book – including a handsome druid, magic and Glastonbury, a place I know well and enjoy visiting, so being able to clearly picture the setting was a bonus. The story is set almost entirely in Glastonbury, encompassing the Abbey ruins, beautiful Chalice Well Gardens and the Tor, all atmospheric and mystical places. The flavour of the area is evident throughout and it’s obvious Alys West knows the locale extremely well.
Druid Finn McCloud makes a deadly enemy of spellworker, Maeve Blackwell when he rescues his sister from her clutches. He pays dearly for his mistake and is trapped by Maeve’s power until Zoe Rose arrives at Anam Cara, Maeve’s healing retreat. Zoe is there at the recommendation of her friend, Anna, trying to find inspiration for her work as an illustrator. Zoe can only feel unease and immediate dislike on meeting Maeve, despite Anna’s enthusiasm and praise for the healer.
Maeve’s mouth pressed into a thin line, her eyes narrowed. “You’ll have karmic wave healing during your stay.”
The words were a command, spoken so emphatically that Zoe felt compelled to say ‘yes, of course.’ Opening her mouth to say the words, she thought what…? Glancing up she met Maeve’s cold, glassy eyes. Goosebumps prickled the back of Zoe’s neck.
The characterisation is so good, Finn and Zoe make great protagonists, very appealing and I liked them immediately. They’re realistic, well-rounded and in Finn’s case, gorgeous. Zoe is intrigued by, and attracted to, a carving of the Green Man on a tree in the garden at Anam Cara although other aspects of the retreat unnerve her. Her reactions to the situation she finds herself in, along with the shocking revelations she finds out about herself and Finn, are convincing and unforced.
Maeve, on the other hand, is completely evil, scheming and ruthless. Her karmic wave healing sessions don’t seem to have the effect expected by her guests. Maeve has an agenda and will do whatever it takes. She an excellent antagonist. Winston is a fascinating character as well, and hopefully he will feature a little more in future books.
Alys West has created a wonderfully visual and gripping, fast paced story, with a strong plot full of mystery, magical forces and tension. I love all the threads of the well written storyline and how they’re woven together. I’m looking forward to the next book, finding out what’s in store and how the characters develop.
About Alys West
Alys writes urban fantasy and steampunk. Her first novel, BELTANE, an urban fantasy romance set in Glastonbury, is now available on Amazon. Her second novel, a steampunk romance called THE DIRIGIBLE KING’S DAUGHTER is available to read on Wattpad.
Alys is a member of the Write Romantic blog group and is doing a MA in Creative Writing at York St John University.
When she’s not writing or blogging you can find her at folk gigs, doing yoga and getting involved in yarnbombing. Alys lives in the beautiful city of York.