Welcome to my stop on the The Witch’s Heart blog tour! Huge thanks to Titan Books for giving me the opportunity to take part in this! I was provided a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.
Angrboda’s story begins where most witches’ tales end: with a burning. A punishment from Odin for refusing to provide him with knowledge of the future, the fire leaves Angrboda injured and powerless, and she flees into the farthest reaches of a remote forest. There she is found by a man who reveals himself to be Loki, and her initial distrust of him transforms into a deep and abiding love.GoodReads
Their union produces three unusual children, each with a secret destiny, who Angrboda is keen to raise at the edge of the world, safely hidden from Odin’s all-seeing eye. But as Angrboda slowly recovers her prophetic powers, she learns that her blissful life—and possibly all of existence—is in danger.
With help from the fierce huntress Skadi, with whom she shares a growing bond, Angrboda must choose whether she’ll accept the fate that she’s foreseen for her beloved family…or rise to remake their future. From the most ancient of tales this novel forges a story of love, loss, and hope for the modern age.
After rediscovering my love for Greek mythology through retellings last year I was eager to find more from other mythologies, particularly Norse as it is one of my favourites. As soon as I heard about this novel being released I knew that I just had to read it, especially as it is one of my favourite stories from Norse mythology too. Gornichec has done a wonderful job bringing this story to life through her writing and portrayal of such classic figures in Norse mythology and it has become one of my favourite retellings of all time.
I loved Gornichec’s characterisation of Angrboda. She was so fierce and strong, yet incredibly compassionate. I really enjoyed that we got to see a lot of time with Angrboda on her own or with Skadi as this was a great way to really build on the characters that we see so little of in Norse mythology. From the very beginning there is no mistaking that this is Angrboda’s story and not simply a retelling of stories from Prose Edda; a voice that has been markedly absent for years despite playing such a crucial role in mythology. I really enjoyed seeing the way she would interact with the other characters, in particular Skadi and Loki. They all seemed to be incredibly well matched when it came to strength and wit, which made a lot of their discussions fun to read.
I especially loved being able to see Angrboda as a mother to Hel, Fenrir and Jormungandr; as well as them being children as this is something that I, personally, have never really considered when seeing their roles within Norse mythology. They’re always creatures to be feared, so to see them as children was a wonderful addition and gave the novel an added depth for those reading it who are familiar with the myth as well as for those who aren’t. I also enjoyed the way that Loki was portrayed, instead of going down the route of casting him as a ‘villain’ that others often mistake him for, here he lived up to his ‘Trickster’ title who was clever and charming but wonderfully obnoxious about it.
Gornichec does a superb job throughout the novel of not only capturing the importance and seriousness of elements of the mythology, but also still including all the fun and the humour that comes from the myths too which makes the novel a complete joy to read. The balance between seriousness and humour is perfected in this novel which is further complemented by the pacing too. The novel is split into three parts, with a long first part to give you time to get to know everyone and settle comfortably into the world before ramping up the pace that will make it impossible to put the book down.
Overall, as you can tell, I loved this book and thought Gornichec’s writing was completely masterful creating such a delightful read that I can’t stop thinking about. Although this story is one I already knew fairly well, there was still a lot to offer and surprise the reader. It also still left me sobbing by the end yet although the novel ripped out my heart and tore it to shreds, in the final pages it ever so gently pieced it back together and softly laid it back in my chest. Which was very fitting for The Witch’s Heart.