Rating: 4.75 stars
Sean O’Hara has not had an easy life but he never knew what terror was until the nightmares started. Night after night he relives the torture and death of a young man. It all started after he inherited an Irish stone from his great grandfather. After seeing every type of doctor and taking all sorts of medicine, Sean is at wits end until he sees an advertisement in the paper and decides this is the only way he is going to get the help he needs, even if it takes him to Ireland.
Cormac Kelly is a Druid. He runs a paranormal investigation business that is also his family’s calling. Like his father, and his grandfather before him, Cormac sees the world in layers, including the realm of the fae. He doesn’t have time for frivolous calls from American tourists wanting to see the Ireland of the movies and fairytales. Cormac knows those fairytales have their basis in things humans should not meddle in.
But when Cormac meets Sean, he realizes that the stone Sean carries is hexed and Sean’s plight is all too real. The haunted, pale American touches Cormac on many levels. He hasn’t been more than just physically attracted to someone in a long time but now Sean pulls at him both physically and emotionally, although Cormac is loathe to admit the latter. As they investigate Sean’s stone and the meaning of his nightmares, they find the sidhe of Ancient Ireland are deeply involved and not just in Sean’s case. Ten years earlier, Cormac lost the love of his life on a night he was to destroy a changling child, now both cases are twining together. As the danger surrounds them, Cormac and Sean must journey into the past through the realm of the sidhe to solve both cases and save their burgeoning relationship as well as their lives.
I am becoming obsessed with the stories of Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane. As they did with Hawaiian Gothic, they throw us pell-mell into another land, mire us in its customs and cement upon us both the fascination and obsession that Ireland holds for us. They do this as they weave a story of two men of Ireland, one so rooted in the old ways that he cannot bear to leave the family lands and township. The other, Sean O’Hara, is of Irish descent. Ireland has a deep hold on both of them but only one is aware of its true power. The authors use these wonderful characters to explore Ireland and her mythology, sink us deep into her alluring land, her people, and the Fae of Ancient lore. Belleau and Vane feed us information about the Irish countryside and folklore so skillfully that not once did I feel as though a info dump had occurred.
I have always loved Irish folklore and have the groaning library shelves to prove it. And reading an author(s) take on the Fae is almost a compulsive read for me. Belleau and Vane did an outstanding job of bringing the Sidhe to life in all their seductive and terrifying ways. When Sean meets Finnbheara, the Sidhe lord, you feel Sean’s helpless attraction as well as his fear so real, so powerful does Finnbheara come across. Almost half of the book takes place in the realm of the Sidhe and the vivid descriptions keep the reader engaged, pulling us into a world so authentic that the characters fears become our own.
Along with Ireland itself, the characters of The Druid Stone are as believably realistic as the people next door. They have made mistakes, have faults and histories of loss and love. Cormac shows an amount of arrogance and pride that at times makes him dislikable but hidden behind it is a need to keep himself separate from others and from the possibility of love so deep is his hurt and guilt over Michael’s loss. Sean is a beautiful character, with unexpected facets and layers that quickly endear him to the reader as well as the other characters in the book, human and otherwise. Sean’s sexuality is also an area of confusion for himself and the reader. Cormac is his first real male love but his previous encounters with women have been unsatisfactory. So it is never completely resolved as to whether Sean is bisexual, gay or “gay for Cormac”. I don’t think it really matters to either the story or their relationship, but Sean reads bisexual to me. There are aspects to his sexuality that I cannot discuss because of spoilers but in the end, it is the love between two individuals that matter and not labels.
If I have any quibble, it is that towards the end, their journey towards happiness has one too many obstacles to overcome to my satisfaction. Perhaps, I was getting too impatient but one less jump to clear would have made this a 5 star instead of 4.75 star read for me. As it is this story ticks so many boxes for me. I am of Irish and Scottish ancestry and have had three Irish Wolfhounds to enrich my life. I love Ireland with a passion, the land, the culture, the feeling of coming home when I visit. Reading this book took me back there, what a gift. I loved this book and will reread it again. I hope you will yourself doing the same. Slainte!
Cover: Gorgeous cover. I couldn’t locate the name of the cover artist. My only quibble is that I would have loved to see a Irish Wolfhound somewhere on the cover. But that’s just me!
Read my review of Hawaiian Gothic by Heidi Belleau and Violetta Vane here.