In a land of myth and ice, seventeen-year-old Runa Unnursdóttir is not the runecaster her clan has been hoping for. She spends her days daydreaming of sailing away and exploring the world instead of studying the runes and learning her spells. The villagers consider her odd, in looks and in manner. She’s nothing like her talented sister, Sýr, keeper of the sacred moonstone that ensures the village’s continued survival. But when a rival clan led by an evil witch raids the village and kidnaps her sister, Runa is forced to act. With a fallen Valkyrie by her side, and the help of a gorgeous half-elf Runa is not quite sure she can trust, the apprentice must travel to the site of an ancient runecasting competition to try to win back the magical gem. But the journey will not be easy; the three unlikely companions encounter malevolent and supernatural creatures at every turn. Somehow, Runa must summon the courage and strength to face her destiny, a destiny she never wanted. Or die trying.
I enjoyed The Stone of Sorrow. The setting and culture were interesting enough to keep my attention, even though there were parts where I felt like the character development was lacking a little. The setting felt familiar—because I’ve read a fair amount of Norse mythology—but not in an “Oh, this again?” sort of way. More a comfortable familiarity. I’m interested to read what happens next.
Brooke Carter is from Canada. The Stone of Sorrow is her newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of Orca Book Publishers in exchange for an honest review.)
Lena’s father is the chief of their Viking clan, but he’s always gone raiding, leaving Lena, her sister Fressa, and their mother behind to lead the clan. When Fressa dies suddenly and mysteriously, Lena is devasted, but after the clan mourns, it seems like she’s the only one still missing Fressa.
Determined to find out what happened to her sister and bring her back, Lena takes a dangerous journey to make a deal with Hela, the goddess of death. There’s a chance to save Fressa but fulfilling her end of the bargain will take Lena deeper into darkness than she can even imagine. For Fressa’s death is the start of a plan to cause Ragnarök—events leading to the destruction of the world. And Hela isn’t the only god involved.
The Weight of a Soul is vividly realized, with the setting coming to life and breathing on the page. The culture is fascinating and utterly believable. I loved the writing itself. I did not love Lena, though. I didn’t find her likable at all, and, while I sympathized with her grief over Fressa, her descent into darkness and willingness to ignore the grief and destruction she was causing made the book hard to read. Obviously, this is my own personal opinion, and I would recommend this to anyone looking for a read based in Norse mythology, Vikings, and…Loki.
Elizabeth Tammi was born in California, raised in Florida, and now attends journalism school in Georgia. The Weight of a Soul is her new novel.
(Galley courtesy of Flux via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
Frey, Ovie, Juniper, and Runa are the Boneless Mercies. They have no homes, and no families but each other. They travel around dispensing death quickly, quietly, and mercifully when they are hired to. The sick wife with a lingering illness. The elderly man who feels he’s a burden on his children. The father with a child who is suffering and will never recover. The Mercies take care of them all and ease their way from this life.
But Frey and the others are tired of the death trade. When they hear of a ferocious monster rampaging a nearby region and killing everyone it meets, Frey decides it’s their one chance to make enough money to leave their old lives behind. The fame they will earn as well will give them a fresh start. But that monster isn’t the only obstacle they’ll face and ending up in the middle of a witches’ war might be the last thing they’ll do.
I loved this book! The concept was beyond unique, and the setting and mythology—reminiscent of the Norse—was compelling and detailed. There are layers in this story: layers of mythology, history, and culture that make it feel so vibrant and alive. l loved the characters as well. Their cohesiveness is wonderful, but their individuality really shines. Go read this!
April Genevieve Tucholke lives and writes in Oregon. The Boneless Mercies is her newest novel.
(Galley provided by Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group/Farrar, Straus and Giroux in exchange for an honest review.)