Gorgeous cover, right? The description on NetGalley also grabbed my attention – young sisters in a Viking clan, grief and mourning, Norse gods and maybe even Ragnarök? Yes, please! I was thrilled to be approved for a free ARC of this book. Unfortunately, the book fell flat for me.
The blurb sounds very promising: when Lena’s sister, Fressa, is found dead, the whole Viking clan mourns, but Lena can’t move on. She needs to know how and why her sister died, and feels like the wrong sister was taken. Lena will do anything to bring her sister back, including striking a dark deal with Hela, the goddess of death. As she moves closer to bringing her sister back, she discovers family secrets and does the unthinkable, all while darkness, cold, and possibly the end of the world descend on their world.
I really think this concept could have been developed into a good story, but unfortunately this book suffers from lack of structure and not-so-great writing. While it is clear that a lot of research went into creating the Nordic/viking culture in the story, I don’t feel like the characters themselves are well developed. It’s hard to really feel anything for Lena or any of the other characters when they are so one-dimensional and incomplete. It’s hard to invest in the strong bond between Lena and Fressa when we have no backstory or reason to believe their closeness, and the same is true of the love story – it doesn’t feel special or intense at all. The story is told in third person, which in this case didn’t help me to connect to the characters. The plot itself is wandering and clunky, with a big event at the beginning, followed by a lot of randomness, and some more action right at the end. I felt lost throughout and ultimately unsatisfied at the end. The writing itself is ok but in need of some editing – that’s likely just because my copy is an ARC and not the final product.
Since I did enjoy the concept, setting, and addition of Norse mythology, and the story managed to keep me reading until the end, I’m giving this book two stars instead of one. If YA/historical fiction/fantasy is your thing, don’t let my review sway you – Goodreads has many glowing ratings of this book, so maybe it’s just me?
Thanks to the published and NetGalley for the free ARC in exchange for an honest review.