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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
The Cauldron Stirred (Guardians of Erin Book 1) by Judith Sterling is the first book in a new series. All that Ashling has ever wanted was to make a positive impact on the world but nothing she ever did felt good enough. Given the opportunity of a lifetime, she has a chance to do something great but couldn't have predicted the mystery that would unfold. Her family is invited to stay at the Killarney estate where she discovers an immediate connection with the handsome Aengus. And for the first time, the guy she is attracted to seems to like her back. But Aengus has secrets that draw her into a magical reality that brings the two families together to stop a dangerous evil that emerges. The lovely Irish setting brings to life the magic, mythology, and romance in the story. The castle has a ghostly presence that adds mystery and serves as a catalyst into other dimensions. The setting gives an eerie and beautiful backdrop giving a foreboding sense of danger for the characters and for Ashling who feels like everything good drains away at night.
Ashling and her sister Deirdre are opposites of each other as Ashling has yet to make a romantic connection and Deirdre has three boys vying for her attention. Their dynamic provides a fun element to their relationship and creates some comic relief. Ashling is an earnest character who is a genuine do-gooder that wants to do something positive for the world. Judith Sterling uses Ashling's dreams throughout the story to provide foreshadowing to significant events such as meeting a handsome Adonis and a dark mass that gives a hint of the danger to unfold. The dialogue is fantastic with descriptive details and attitudes that give a little extra spark to the tone of the story and the personality of the characters, such as Deirdre describing the castle as a corpse at night. Delightfully Irish, The Cauldron Stirred delivers a rich and original take on Irish mythology through a coming-of-age journey that has romance, destiny, and family that makes you want to see where this series will go.