The Complete Cate Tiernan Sweep Series Books 1-15 in Five Volumes [Book of Shadows, Coven, Blood Witch, Dark Magick, Awakening, Spellbound Calling, Changeling, Strife, Seeker, Origins, Eclipse, Reckoning, Full Circle, Night's Child] - C. Tiernan, Cate Tiernan

    This series of YA mini novels contains 15 books in total.  They mainly follow the story of Morgan, a 16-year-old American girl who discovers that she is a blood witch (witch by birth) and possesses an unusual amount of power.  Through the series, the reader journeys with Morgan as she discovers her power and the dark past of her ancestors.  Their past quickly becomes her nightmare as she is targeted by a dangerous and powerful coven of witches, intent on using her power even at the expense of her life.

    Thrilling stuff for any young adult, right?  For the most part, it is.  Tiernan’s style of writing is typical of most YA novels.  It’s told from the perspective of teenagers, so it definitely has a young, modern voice that is easy to read and follow.  It also has many elements that are practically essential in YA novels: first loves, true loves, love triangles and a whole lot of misunderstandings that are blown way out of proportion.  I found that many of the more trivial plot points (best friends falling out over a boy, aforementioned love triangles, etc.) were forced at times.  Perhaps I was too sensible as a teenager, but I hardly remember any of my friends or I being so damn stupid.  If you prefer more action and less teenage angst, than you may find some of the books in this series tedious.  

    One of the more frustrating aspects of the books was the sheer amount of recapping.  I’m aware that many series writers do this simply to remind the reader of what happened in the last book, especially if the books had been published with a good year or two in between.  I personally hate it.  I, along with most readers, am capable of recalling the gist of the previous book as well as characters without any help.  That is if the writer has done their job in the first place and made the characters and environments vivid and memorable—Tiernan accomplishes this.  If something is essential, then the writer should mention it, but in the Sweep series I was dragged through paragraph after paragraph of recounting characters, what they look like, what Morgan’s relationship is with said character, as well as places too.  Tiernan went as far as to remind the reader of why Morgan named her car, Das Boot in almost every single book.

    This becomes most apparent in the final book of the series, Night’s Child.  Here, the voice of the story is changed to third-person—as opposed the first-person POV from the previous books—and we find Morgan all grown up with a family of her own.  At first I was so intrigued by this bold move, I was itching to read it.  Not to mention it is the longest book in the series.  What I found was a substantial amount of story retelling.  Tiernan manages to weave the recapping in with her characters’ dialogue, which of course led to a lot of monologues that I skimmed through as fast as I could as they tended to drag down the pace of the book.  

    In spite of all of this, I really did enjoy the series.  The character development spanned decades and there was a great deal of imaginative Witch lore weaved throughout.  Not only that, but Tiernan clearly put a plethora of research and effort into creating her stories.  Her knowledge of Wiccan practises was used with a great deal of respect, even though she is not a Wiccan herself.  On top of that, she dropped in a number of British characters and does a faithful job at writing their dialogue.  As an American who has lived in Britain for 13 years, I know that this must have involved a lot of care and attention to detail.  She didn’t use any half-assed research, even down to her invented quotes from ‘historical’ books on witchcraft, which were well-executed.

    I would recommend this series to anyone who enjoys books from writers like J.L. Smith, Kelley Armstrong or even Stephanie Meyer.  But what makes Tiernan stand out was her enthusiasm for history, anscestry and how our family's past makes us who we are.