Tagged: norse mythology

When Forever Died by Mia Darien

When Forever Died by Mia Darien(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)

Forever is a long time.

The life of a hunter is a lonely one. Perhaps more for Dakota than others in her line of work. Not only is she better than anyone else at chasing down the things that go bump in the night, but her past chases her with the same tenacity.

She’s built walls around her solitary existence and that’s the way she likes it, but the past never sleeps. When she’s hired to hunt an ex-lover for murder, it’s just the first in a string of memories that will bring Dakota’s past, present and future into a collision course.

And when she agrees to take on a second case and hunt down an Ancient, a vampire over one thousand years old, it unleashes circumstances onto that collision that will shake the foundation of everything she’s built and force her, for the first time in a long while, to look to others.

Can she survive it, like she’s survived these past four centuries? Or will the weight of it all finally crush her?

[Full disclosure: I received a free ebook in conjunction with the blog tour in exchange for an honest review.]

Dakota was one of the secondary characters that really intrigued me in the first book of the Adelheid series, Cameron’s Law.  That was from Sadie’s point of view and in When Forever Died we learn that Sadie has hired Dakota as a freelance hunter to work on a job-by-job basis.  But what happens when a job comes across Dakota’s desk that brings her long-suppressed past back to the surface?

Even though we met Dakota briefly in the first book I was extremely excited to read about her adventures in this second book and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.  Dakota has had a hard life as we learn through various flashbacks and her powers have not made life easy for her.  Even though it would be pretty cool to morph into anything or anyone you’d like it doesn’t solve all of your problems—sometimes it even causes them as she learns when she starts tracking down a rogue Ancient.  When she discovers that a former lover of hers and someone even closer to her are involved with this Ancient and his mysterious but clearly nefarious plans, things definitely get interesting.  It’s very gratifying to see Dakota change throughout the course of the story as she learns more about herself and her past but also begins to look more to the present and begins to appreciate the people around her.  She’ll never be the life of the party by any stretch of the imagination but it was nice to see her begin to realize that maybe people aren’t so bad at all.

Even if the plot sucked, Dakota would have carried the day and still made this a good book.  However, the plot was awesome as well.  Tracking an Ancient isn’t easy, particularly when they don’t want to be found and they have immensely powerful beings helping them.  Add into that a seemingly insane secret society of supposedly reincarnated figures from Norse legends and you’ve got a very interesting and extremely fast-paced plot.  Nothing is as it seems and of course nothing is simple in Adelheid’s supernatural community.

Speaking of the supernatural community, I absolutely love Mia Darien’s world-building.  In Cameron’s Law we mainly see the world of vampires and werewolves as well as the human opposition to the fact that they are now considered human beings with full legal rights.  Here in When Forever Died we see Dakota’s extremely rare species of shapeshifter, one that can turn into whatever they like whereas normal shapeshifters are restricted to one animal form like Sadie’s weretiger boyfriend Vance.  Just because almost a year has passed since the events of the first book doesn’t mean that humans are more accepting of the supernatural community, though.  And just because the supernatural community is ecstatic that they’re allowed to live in the open doesn’t mean some of them bear any less hatred of humans than before.  Mia Darien is good at not only creating unique species of supernatural creatures but also creating complex and believable political systems within and without the supernatural community.

Even if you haven’t read the first book, you can certainly start the series at When Forever Died or any of the other books in the series because each stands alone quite well.  They’re all interconnected in fascinating ways but you don’t have to start right at the beginning because they all feature different characters.  It’s a great way to go about a series like this and I have to say that I can’t wait to read the other three books.

I give this book 5/5 stars.

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Stork by Wendy Delsol

Stork by Wendy Delsol(Cover picture courtesy of Wendy Delsol’s site.)

Family secrets. Lost memories. And the arrival of an ancient magical ability that will reveal everything.

Sixteen-year-old Katla LeBlanc has just moved from Los Angeles to Minnesota. As if it weren’t enough that her trendy fashion sense draws stares, Katla soon finds out that she’s a Stork, a member of a mysterious order of women tasked with a very unique duty. But Katla’s biggest challenge may be finding her flock at a new school. Between being ignored by Wade, the arrogant jock she stupidly fooled around with, and constantly arguing with gorgeous farm boy and editor-in-chief Jack, Katla is relieved when her assignment as the school paper’s fashion columnist brings with it some much-needed friendship. But as Homecoming approaches, Katla uncovers a shocking secret about her past — a secret that binds her fate to Jack’s in a way neither could have ever anticipated. With a nod to Hans Christian Andersen and inspired by Norse lore, Wendy Delsol’s debut novel introduces a hip and witty heroine who finds herself tail-feathers deep in small-town life.

It actually took me a long time to warm up to Stork.  I had read up until chapter three sometime in March but was so bored with it I put it down for a while.  Lately I’ve had a little bit of time to read during the day so I sat down and got down to the business of reading a significant chunk of the book at once.  It’s a good thing I did too.  Stork is one of those books that isn’t very fast-paced at the start but it draws you in slowly and soon enough you’re hooked.

Normally I’d hate a main character like Katla.  She’s a total fashionista and despises the small town ways (I myself live in a small town and feel the same way, but it gets tiring after a while).  I would have given up on this book except I reminded myself of the way she was raised.  Her father is very similar to her and raised her to be this perfect little fashionista that looks down her nose at almost everyone.  Eventually Katla improves and starts to realize that maybe fashion is just her way of hiding her insecurities and that maybe she should lighten up a bit.  Overall she is a well-rounded character, though.

This is loosely based off of a Hans Christian Andersen tale that I’ve never read so I can’t really comment on how true it stays to the story.  I think Wendy Delsol added a lot of her own flair into the myth and that’s how we get the storks: women who help bring babies to ‘troubled souls’.  They’re like the storks of myth in the cartoons that drop off babies on doorsteps, except they do it on a spiritual level.  It’s much more interesting than I’m making it sound and you really have to read the book to appreciate the world-building.

Stork is not the best book I’ve ever read, I’ll admit that.  It does drag on in some places and there are old tropes left, right and centre but overall I was actually quite impressed.  By the end of the novel I felt connected to the main characters and honestly cared about what happened to them.  That’s not bad considering my low expectations from the first three chapters.

Basically, if it sounds interesting to you give it a try.  It’s not the greatest book out there but it was good enough that I’m glad I bought the second book in the series to continue Katla’s story.

I give this book 3.5/5 stars.

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The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer

(Cover picture courtesy of Tower Books.)

Jack was eleven when the berserkers loomed out of the fog and nabbed him.  “It seems that things are stirring across the water,” the Bard had warned.  “Ships are being built, swords are being forged.”

“Is that bad?”  Jack had asked, for his Saxon village had never before seen berserkers.

“Of course.  People don’t make ships and swords unless they intend to use them.”

The year is A. D. 793.  In the next months, Jack and his little sister, Lucy, are enslaved by Olaf One-Brow and his fierce young shipmate, Thorgil.  With a crow named Bold Heart for mysterious company, they are swept up into an adventure-quest in the spirit of The Lord of the Rings.

Award-winner Nancy Farmer has never told a richer, funnier tale, nor offered more timeless encouragement to young seekers than “Just say no to pillaging.”

I read The Sea of Trolls about three years ago, shortly after my library acquired it.  Even though I didn’t quite get all of it, I remember enjoying it and picked it up again this week.  Now that I actually know the basics of Norse mythology and culture, I managed to get a lot more out of it this time around.

Set in 793 AD and told by Jack, a Saxon boy who is an apprentice bard, it certainly offers a new look at the Vikings from an outsider’s perspective.  It’s filled with historically accurate details, magic and Jotuns (trolls in Norse mythology).  And of course it has an incredibly important message for all readers: Just say no to pillaging.  Timeless.  It helps if you know a bit of Norse mythology before picking up The Sea of Trolls, but it’s certainly not a requirement as Nancy Farmer is good at subtly conveying all of the necessary information.

Jack is an amazing character that has a nice amount of character development throughout the novel.  Thorgil, the shieldmaiden, does as well.  In fact, she pretty much does a complete about-face, but after all she goes through, it feels natural.  Even Jack’s bratty little sister, Lucy, changes for the better, which was a huge relief for me as I can’t stand poorly behaved children, even in fiction.  The Jotuns are also not what I expected, which keeps The Sea of Trolls from becoming too cliché.

Overall, a very enjoyable read.

I give this book 4/5 stars.

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