Read an ARC from NetGalley
Content warning: childbirth, burning alive, sutures
I was a Norse mythology kid growing up. And the books that I had read painted Angrboda as the de facto villain with Loki being kind of a quaint deuteragonist. This book tells the story from Angrboda’s point of view, starting with her third burning through her courtship with Loki, to the birth of her monstrous children, and finally, Ragnarok itself. Beautiful imagery, full of romance, and heart-breaking in its pivotal moments, this book has captured my heart, and I’m not sure I’m getting it back any time soon.
Author Genevieve Gornichec will be featured in a blog interview on release day, February 9th, 2021.
I am obsessed with the way Gornichec personified these main figures of Greek mythology. The sarcasm and antagonism between Loki and Angrboda is written with such refreshing modern sensibility. The imagery and pacing are something out of a fairy tale, easily ensnaring the reader in the interior journey of Angrboda and those around her.
Of course, my favorite had to be Hel. The complicated relationship the half-dead godling has with her parents. I loved seeing this character come to life in what this book achieves: three-dimensionality. She’s more than just the ruler of the land of the dead. She’s also a child whose parents experienced cruelty, with her own wants and needs, and I am still floored by her character arc.
In terms of relationships, however, the crowning achievement here is Skadi and Angrboda. Friends to allies to lovers, their chemistry leaps off the page from their first interaction. It was so clear to me that there is an attraction, and the way Gornichec spends time with these two as Skadi helps Angrboda set up her cave and adjust to her new life had me sighing dreamily. Then Loki shows up. And from start to finish, I was on Skadi’s side of gleefully waiting for him to get what’s coming. But the execution is far more complex than that, with time spent exploring the tension between a desire for revenge and its actual execution. Heart-wrenching, absolutely heart-wrenching.
An in-depth exploration of the different forms love can take told from the point of view of a witch who wants full authority over her magic.