Title: Church of the Oak (The Brigid Series, #3)
Author: Sheila R. Lamb
Genres: Fantasy | Historical Fiction | Paranormal | Romance
Length: 245 pages | 3491 locations
In this direct sequel to the second book of the series, Patrick continues trying to find Brigid, while remaining true to his faith in Christianity.
In the meantime, Brigid strives to keep her druid school while remaining a free woman and yearning to find Patrick again.
This book did not start as well for me as the previous ones. There were a lot of characters and I did not remember some of them.
One of the things that bothered me the most was Brigid’s father. I felt that he was out of character compared to I knew of him in the previous book. He had left his family to stay with Brigid’s mother and raise her as his own and yet now he stooped to a level I never saw coming, making all sorts of evil threats and even willing to sell her freedom to Maithghean. This is the part that stung the most: “Maithghean could probably use a servant’s help more than me.” Father’s lip lifted as if in satisfaction, a grin quickly reigned in. Not only is he pimping out his daughter, he’s actually happy about it? Eurgh.
Then as we went back in time and I began finding out what had happened since Brigid left in the previous novel, I reconnected with the story. I felt her struggle between wanting to help the Túatha de Danann and not allowing them to control her fate again, as well as her love for Patrick but loath of what he had become. She had a goal now, her school, and she was committed to it.
But I continued having trouble connecting with Patrick. It bothered me that he obviously wanted to be with Brigid, and he had experienced first hand the Dannan power, even having glimpses of his past life. Yet he acted as if none of that happened and that Christianity’s one God was the only one that ever existed.
I understand that he would choose not to be with Brigid, but I could not understand why, when he and Brigid met, she felt their energy as anam cara and yet he appeared to be immune to her touch and just so aggressive, with such an aversion towards her.
As in the previous book, it frustrated me that he did not listen to what Brigid said, she would have to repeat the same things over and over again (like her warnings about Maithghean) and he just would not get it. It wasn’t so much as he was confused about what she was saying, more that he would not register it.
Alas, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Brigid as a teacher, as well as all the techniques described. Watching her absorb energy from the earth and developing her powers was enthralling. I was eager to learn more of the magic – rituals, potions, spells… I did get to see some, but I wanted more. Instead, it seemed like chamomile kept being used all the time.
I felt for her in all the hard choices she had to make, even when none of them seemed to bring a way out of her predicament. Every decision made her grow as a woman and led to her finding out who she really was and what she wanted her future to be. She deserved to be happy and would try to do whatever led to her happiness, while trying her best to stay true to her values and her missions. I admired her.
I would like to point out that I am not familiar at all with irish folklore, so I took this series at point value, that is an independent work of fiction regardless of what it was based on. I have to admit I thought it odd that a woman would be appointed bishop, for instance. I don’t know if that ever happened back then but it just sounded weird.
I thought some things were repetitive, like all the mentions of Patrick and Brigid’s past together or how it was against druid customs to write. I did not get why Maithghean would kill Conleth when he knew about Patrick and their much stronger connection, and yet he seemed surprised to see them together. Regarding the formatting, I think it would make sense if thoughts were put in italic. Sometimes I would not notice the voice had changed and had to go back and reread.
So, all in all, there were bits and pieces here and there that I would have liked to have been handled differently, but I generally enjoyed Church of the Oak very much and sped through it. Getting lost in Brigid’s world is a joy.
Disclaimer: I would like to thank the author for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Read from Aug 27 to Aug 29, 2015