Published by Flux (3rd December 2019)
My rating: ⭐ ⭐
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Flux, and the author via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
Actual rating of 2.5
Lena and her sister, Fressa, are one and the same, they know everything there is to know about each other, and no one is closer to them than each other. So when Fressa is found dead in a forest clearing, Lena’s entire life begins to unravel. She is desperate to find out what happened, and will go to any lengths possible, some even impossible, in order to get her answers. After making a deal with Hela, the Norse Goddess of Death, she begins to do things that the old Lena never would have considered, not even if her life had depended upon it. As she falls deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole, she realises that things she thought she knew, are not so and that there is so much more going on than meets the eye. The threat of Ragnarok looms on the horizon and Lena finds herself caught up in it all. How far will she really go in order to learn the truth of what happened to her sister, who’s life hangs in the balance, with time running out?
The first thing that caught my eye was that cover. Oh my, isn’t it a beauty?! I absolutely adore it, it’s simple yet absolutely beautiful. As soon as I saw the cover I had a rough idea that the story would have something to do with Norse Mythology, and I was right, which made me even happier because I have a small love for Norse Mythology. It intrigues me, and it interests me and I’m totally here for it. When I saw that this story also encompassed not only Norse Mythology, but a murder mystery of sorts as well? Well colour me green and call me Loki because I. Was. Sold!
We get a brief introduction to Lena, Fressa and their friend Amal (who also happens to be smitten with Fressa, and vice versa), before the tragedy occurs in the beginning, the strange, unexplained death of Fressa. She is found in a forest clearing, with no marks of death upon her body, and no signs at all that she was attacked. It’s almost like she just laid down willingly and went quietly into the dark abyss. Lena will not accept this though, she knows that something happened to her sister and she is determined to find out what. Lena’s determination actually borders on obsession…actually, let’s just make that straight up obsession. Lena literally cannot eat, barely sleep, or function in life because every waking second she is thinking about Fressa, and what could have possibly happened to her. She looks for any explanation that seems even remotely plausible and she runs with it, hoping that she can get to the bottom of it.
I found Lena to be quite unlikable if I’m honest. At first I did feel sorry for her because she had lost her younger sister and I couldn’t even imagine losing a sibling and having to do life without them. But instead of going through the normal stages of grieving and dealing with what had happened to the best of her ability, she completely shut down and just refused to believe that it was Fressa’s time and that she had travelled onto Hel where she was meant to. I guess in a way, this could be seen as her way of grieving to a degree, but it just annoyed me. She didn’t take into account how anyone else around her who was connected to Fressa was feeling. It was sort of spoken about in brief passing, but she was just pissed mostly because she felt like everyone else was moving on when she didn’t want to, or didn’t feel ready to. She came across as an incredibly selfish character to me and I just found her whiny and unlikable. Fressa I never got to know, we meet her briefly in the beginning as stated above, and then she’s dead, so while I felt for Lena’s pain at the start, I didn’t really feel anything for Fressa because I didn’t know her. Amal I felt for the most because he’s just doing his damned best and everything that has happened to him is sad, but I still didn’t feel a strong connection with any of the characters, Amal included, that I felt I should have. I just felt incredibly disconnected from all of the characters, and it made me sad. I’m wondering if it’s because the narrative was written in third person, that we lost some of the emotion the characters were experiencing?
In Norse mythology, I believe there are many afterlives, the two most spoken about, however, are Hel, and Valhalla. Valhalla is where the warriors chosen by Odin and the Valkyrie go, to live out their first death until such time as Ragnarok comes, and they then are called to arms to battle for the survival of the worlds. These are the two that are spoken about a lot in this story, and a few of the Gods and Goddesses are named as well, however, we only meet two of them, and I feel like this was a lost opportunity maybe?
I love the Tammi has obviously done some research into Norse mythology and viking culture as the story definitely had a good feeling of ‘real’ to it which I enjoyed. Though I worked out very early on a couple of things that were happening, even if one of them wasn’t quite in the way it turned out, so I sort of went through the whole story wondering if I should continue because I felt I’d already worked out most of the mystery of it all. Granted the reasoning behind certain things I hadn’t worked out, I still didn’t feel overly blown away by their reveal.
I questioned whether I should DNF this book a few times, the pacing was pretty slow and a lot of the time I felt like not much was happening. The plot also seemed pretty all over the place at times and the narrative became a bit confusing for a hot minute as well. The pace did pick up at about the 70% mark which was good, I just wished the whole story sat at this speed for me. There didn’t appear to be a sense of urgency throughout the story either which I feel made the pacing fall short at times. We had a timeline given to us, but I feel like it didn’t really hit me how it should because I just didn’t really care about the characters.
All in all, this was a really well researched book, and the story idea was there, I just feel like it wasn’t executed to it’s full ability which is a bit sad. I held high hopes for this story and it didn’t quite reach the mark. It wasn’t terrible, but it just doesn’t seem overly memorable for me either. I feel like a lot more could have been done with the story than what we got. Don’t take my word for it though, give it a shot if you’re interested in Norse Mythology, it might surprise you!