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The Crow of Connemara
by Stephen Leigh
Daw, $25.95, 320pp
Published: March 2015

The Crow of Connemara is a well written story weaving modern day with magic and Irish mythological folktales. The story starts at a slow tempo, but once it begins to build it pulls you on an adventure of life and magic, deep in the heart of Ireland.

Colin Doyle is a talented young musician who wants to explore the music and culture of his ancestors abroad. His father wants him to get a degree and go into the family business. Colin tries to keep with his father's wishes, but that life just isn't for him.

When his father unexpectedly passes away, Colin decides he must follow his dreams, not just of his studies of the music but also the dreams he's been having of a lovely lass who seems to be beckoning him to Ireland.

His aunt passes on to him a journal and a jewel that had belonged to his grandfather, who emigrated from Ireland and they make the journey even more enticing for him to undertake. After traveling around different parts of Ireland, immersing himself in the  music, winning the locals over with his talent in singing the old songs, he ends up in the small town of Ballenmor, located in the Connemara region.

Maeve Gallagher is an Oileánach, an "Islander" from Ireland's west coast. She is the leader of a small group that has taken over the abandoned island of Inishcorr, determined to stay even against pressure from the goverment to evict them, marked as outcasts and treated suspiciously by the locals and blamed for all strange and unexplained happenings that befall the villagers of Ballenmor.

When Maeve sees Colin playing in a pub she knows he is Rory's grandson, the bard she has been seeking to help save her people since Rory slipped away from her so many moons ago. Colin feels her pull from across the room and looks over to see the the raven haired, green-eyed beauty of his dreams. Little does he know she is also so much more than he could ever imagine or believe.

Maeve and Colin stike up a friendship that quickly evolves into a romance. Colin is warned by many of the locals against this, but when he doesn't heed the warnings he is soon shunned by the villagers and let go by the band he is performing with. He begins to wonder if it's all worth it or it's it time to move on to greener pastures.

Maeve will go to any lengths to get Colin to stay and to make him believe in the existence of magic and the fae of legend, even if that means making him fall in love with her, knowing that only the willing assistance of her chosen bard will open the portal of magic and save her people.

Time is growing short, the goverment is close to invading the island to evict them and the time for opening the portal is fast running out. Can Maeve convice Colin to make the ultimate sacrifice that will be the salvation for her people?

Love can be a double-edged sword and Maeve must be ever careful she doesn't cut herself with the weapon she wields.

I enjoyed The Crow of Connemara, though I did find the beginning to be a bit on the slow side. Once it picked up, it was full of imagination and lovely imagery. If you like a tale that is a modern drama, yet full of old magic and fantasy with a tragic love story then this the book for you. ~~ Dee Astell

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