Nothing ever happens in Norway. But at least Ellie knows what to expect when she visits her grandmother: a tranquil fishing village and long, slow summer days. And maybe she’ll finally get out from under the shadow of her way-too-perfect big brother, Graham, while she’s there.
What Ellie doesn’t anticipate is Graham’s infuriating best friend, Tuck, tagging along for the trip. Nor did she imagine boys going missing amid rumors of impossible kidnappings. Least of all does she expect something powerful and ancient to awaken in her and that strange whispers would urge Ellie to claim her place among mythological warriors. Instead of peace and quiet, there’s suddenly a lot for a girl from L.A. to handle on a summer sojourn in Norway! And when Graham vanishes, it’s up to Ellie—and the ever-sarcastic, if undeniably alluring Tuck—to uncover the truth about all the disappearances and thwart the nefarious plan behind them.
Deadly legends, hidden identities, and tentative romance swirl together in one girl’s unexpectedly-epic coming of age.
I’m always a little excited when I come across a book on a subject that I haven’t read about before. In this case, that subject is Valkyries. For those unfamiliar with Norse mythology, in a nutshell the Valkyries are women who escort some of those who die in battle to Valhalla, where they become undead warriors under the god Odin. I don’t claim any great knowledge of Norse mythology but I think that’s the basics. Many notable mythological figures make appearances throughout the book.
Anyway, Ellie is a rather meek girl who gets the surprise of her life when she travels to Norway to visit her grandma and discovers that she is the descendant of the Valkyries. She becomes powerful, confident (mostly), and rather irresistible to men, which causes some awkward situations. She also decides that she is the only one who can stop the disappearances of the best & brightest boys in the village.
Ellie was a protagonist that I had to grow to like as she grew as a person. Initially she’s very dishwatery, kind of mousy and lets herself be bossed around by her brother, Graham. Speaking of which, what the eff was that business? Granted I was the older sibling in my family but I can’t imagine ever trying to butt into my younger brother’s life like that. What a pushy douchebag. It just wasn’t normal or healthy for a brother to be THAT overprotective of his sister. Initially it was a facet of the book that I found unrealistic. I realize that it was meant to show the brother/sister dynamic, but it was a bit over the top. Fortunately as Ellie realizes her ancestry she becomes more awesome.
This is a total girl power book. The heroines in this book are nearly all women. Of course the primary villains are women as well, but that was fine by me. I loved the whole vibe of the strong women who don’t pull any punches and don’t really give a damn about behaving like a lady or hiding who they are. I even liked the fact that they weren’t afraid to use their looks to their advantage. Hey, why not? I found Astrid in particular to be a total badass, and true badass women in books are sadly few and far between. The *only* place where the book loses a few points in the girl power department is how mooney Ellie is over Tucker, but in the scheme of things it didn’t bother me all that much because he seemed to be quite a charmer and because their entire friendship/relationship was built on sarcasm rather than pie-eyed adoration. I can respect that kind of relationship.
If I had to complain about something it would probably be that the “Tucker is so beautiful and charming and has girls falling at his feet” business got a bit old after a while. That’s mostly just nitpicking, though, because it didn’t have me rolling my eyes or anything. And the fact that there was a distinct lack of insta-love certainly helped.
I assume based on the ending that this is the first book in a series, and I would definitely be interested in reading the next book.
As an aside, I was always jealous of kids who had grandparents in Europe who they could go and visit for the summer. I know I still have some family in Ireland but they’re distant relations at best and it would have been pretty sketchy if I’d have showed up on their doorstep ready to spend my summer vacation. It would basically be the equivalent of that scene in European Vacation where the Griswold’s show up to visit their distant “relatives” in Germany who speak no English, impose on them for days, and then when they finally leave it’s revealed that they were at the wrong house all along.