The Cauldron Stirred by Judith Sterling

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  • Guardians of Erin, Book One

    Ashling Donoghue never dreamed moving to Ireland would rock her perception of reality and plunge her into a mystery that brings legend to life.

    At seventeen, she’s never had a boyfriend, but she feels an immediate connection to Aengus Breasal, the son of the wealthy Irishman who’s invited her family to stay at his Killarney estate.  For the first time in her life, a guy she likes seems attracted to her.

    But Aengus is secretive, with good reason.  He and his family are the Tuatha Dé Danann, ageless, mythical guardians adept at shifting between this reality and the magical dimension known as the Otherworld.  Evil forces from that world threaten the Breasals, the Donoghues, and all of Ireland.  Ashling must open her heart, face her fears, and embrace a destiny greater than she could ever have imagined.

    Rating: Sweet
    Page Count: 220
    Word Count: 48515
    978-1-5092-1541-6 Paperback
    978-1-5092-1542-3 Digital

    Excerpt

    The night air was deliciously cool. Moonlight and darkness held equal sway over the backyard thanks to the shifting clouds. I dashed across the lawn and halted in the exact spot where Aengus had stood. Panting, I looked around, willing some kind of clue to materialize.

    The ruins in front of me darkened as large, heavy clouds swallowed the moon whole. The wind tugged at my long, loose hair and pajamas. Tiny raindrops spattered on my nose and cheeks. I turned my palms to the sky, and cold rain pelted them.

    “Great.” Intending to return to the house, I swiveled around.

    I gasped. My right hand flew to my chest. “Aengus?!”

    The man himself stood an arm’s length in front of me. “Why are you here?”

    “You scared the crap out of me!”

    “Whisht!”

    “What?”

    “Shush!”

    Pop!

    The strident sound came from the ruins. I whirled around and stared at the dark keep.

    Aengus grabbed me from behind. He pulled me to him and wrapped his arms around me. I reveled in the feel of his taut body, of his warm flesh against mine.

    Suddenly, everything changed. The rain stopped. The wind died. The entire landscape was bathed in the soft hue of twilight. Breasal Castle looked brand spanking new, just as it had during the bizarre dream in which I brought Aengus to the cottage. But this time, I knew I was awake.

    Dumbfounded, I gawked at the medieval magnificence before me. I had no idea what had happened and no desire to pull away from his embrace.

    His lips brushed my right ear, sending a shiver down my spine. “This way.”

    His right arm released me, and his left slid down to my waist. Maintaining body contact the entire time, he steered me toward the stand of oaks on our right.

    Once sheltered by the trees, he turned us around so we faced the castle.

    “Are we hiding?” I whispered.

    “We are.”

    “Why? And what just happened?”

    “I can’t say.”

    “Can’t or won’t?”

    “Both.”

    Until that moment, I’d forgotten I wore pajamas. Now I was acutely aware of it. Satin was pleasing to the touch, but something told me my attire had nothing to do with his grip on me.

    I looked up at him. “Not that I mind, but why are you holding me so close?”

    His hand tightened on my waist. “It’s necessary.”

    “I don’t suppose you can explain that, either.”

    With his gaze locked on the castle, he shook his head. He pressed his right forefinger against his mouth in a silencing gesture. Then he pointed up at the keep.

    High on the battlements, the black-haired woman from my dream—and from Branna’s painting—paced back and forth. Her hair whipped about her pale face and slender frame.

    She paused beside a gap in the crenelated wall and glared down at the fairy mound. Her colorless lips curled into a sneer. Then her human form morphed into a dark shadow, which fragmented into what seemed a million black particles. They swarmed into the air and shot across the twilit sky, disappearing into the distance.

    I took a deep breath. “So she’s real.”

    He nodded. “She’s real, to be sure. Come.” With his arm still hooked around me, he led me out of the woods and toward the fairy mound.

Reviews

Grade 
02/21/2019

Perfect Book for Teens (and older)!

In The Cauldron Stirred (Guardians of Erin Book 1) Judith Sterling writes a beautiful and exciting story of Ireland, transporting the reader to times long ago while shifting easily back to present day. Before the December holidays I won this story in a raffle and put it at the end of my reading list. Big mistake. I regret not reading it sooner. I couldn’t put it down once I started reading it. I love the characters, the dialogue flow, and the explanations of the spiritual world connecting through planes to the here and now. Ashling, Aengus, and their two families are likeable and charming. Sterling perfectly sets up a plot for the second book and I can’t wait to read it. In a day where it’s hard to find a book suitable for a teen, I found one. I’d recommend it to any high school teenager. Well done, Judith!

    Grade 
    12/07/2018

    Love all the past life and paranormal references

    Definitely worth the read. Fun and easy to follow. Looking forward to more like this.

      Grade 
      09/22/2018

      Great book for teens

      As a mother always on the lookout for appropriate books for my 14-year old daughter, this one is great. Although the main character, Ashling, is 17, there isn't anything I would be concerned with in the book. The author does a good job of blending present day with Irish myth and the descriptions of otherworld, middleworld and netherworld were just plain cool. Also the setting descriptions were one of the strongest parts of the writing and made me want to travel to Ireland. If I had to say anything slightly critical, it was only that Ashling's family was a little too perfect which may not be relatable for all teens. I only wish my kids got along so well and loved their parents so dearly at all times. I would definitely pick up book 2 when it is released.

        Grade 
        07/27/2017

        a great young adult AND adult read!

        I have read other very interesting books from Judith Sterling. Since this was a young adult read, I read it to see if it would be age appropriate for my 13 year old, and I REALLY enjoyed it! It was age appropriate, and I really loved the mystery and suspense. It had fantasy aspects, which I usually am not interested in, but it really just flowed with the plot and was one more aspect that engrossed me in the story! Despite being a young adult book, I AM actually looking forward to the sequel!! Kudos to Judith Sterling for another good read!

        • 2 out of 2 people found this review useful.

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