Author: Ingrid Paulson
Genre: YA, Paranormal
Publication Date: October 9, 2012 (HarperTeen – North America)
Source: Publisher-provided ARC
Summary: 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.
☆: 4/5 stars – an awesome debut that definitely has me wanting that next book!
Review: Okay guys, I think it’s safe to say that Norse mythology is the new Greek mythology in YA right now – it’s the new hot thing. And strangely, I’m okay with that – a lot of really good stuff has come out of this new trend. While “Valkyrie Rising” wasn’t perfect, it still explores one of my favorite bits of Norse mythology – the Valkyries and their role in both Midgard (our world), Asgard (the world of the gods), and beyond.
I think the largest issue I had with this book was the fact that the mythology part really only hit within the second half of the book. The first half sets things up nicely, but ideally, this set up should last until the end of the first third of the book, not the first half. It felt like a lot of potential was wasted by using that half instead of a third, and I’ll admit my attention did drift a bit during some of those wasted moments.
When Paulson gets going, it’s hard to resist the charm of her world, her story, and her characters. I loved all of the characters, and I rarely say that. They all felt very fleshed out and real, and they all wove pretty neatly back into the world. I wanted a little more on Astrid and the other Valkyries, but in order to construct a first book in what looks like is going to be a great series, what I got was substantial enough to work with. Ellie is a great heroine and one you want to root for when she finally gets it (the time wasted in that first half of the book, well, not so much). Tuck is a great potential love interest, and I loved the tease of his big bad secret and blessedly quick Big Reveal about that secret – it all worked really well in that second half of the book. Loki and Astrid? Awesome. I could have done without Kjell, but he served his purpose and the story to bring home to the audience how serious Ellie’s heritage is, and how powerful she may grow to be.
Now, to the romance – yes, there is insta-romance. However, this is very cleverly dealt with by mixing the idea of the siren and that of the Valkyrie – something I hadn’t really considered before in terms of what the Valkyrie is able to do in order to do her job of luring the best male human warriors to the halls of Valhalla. Still, I kind of wish there’d been less of him, though I do see why Paulson was able to make such good use of him. Tuck as the conflicted love interest, along with a potential rivalry with Loki (this is only hinted upon very lightly, more like a proposition to the audience between the lines), was great, as was the mixing of ancient Celtic and Norse mythologies.
As I said before, the second half really makes up for the wasted potential of the first. Shit gets real, folks, and it gets fun. I loved the way the Asgardians mixed with the humans, and how the entire world got rewoven a bit once we see the secret behind Skavopoll and its population. I loved the action and I wanted a lot more, so I’m hoping book two won’t have an entire slow first half. The worldbuilding wasn’t completely airtight, but since it was just so entertaining, I can let it go. I liked how pretty much everyone wove back into the fabric of the dual worlds of Asgard/Skavopoll and the place inbetween the two. But considering that this is Paulson’s debut effort, it could have been worse, and I’m pretty happy with what I got.
I’ll admit, by the way, that I just can’t unsee Avengers’ Tom Hiddleston as Loki. I saw him as Loki in this book, two. Curse you, Paulson! Now I want more awesome Loki action. Hopefully Thor and our other favorite Norse figures (along with the Morrigan) will get involved in book two.
Final verdict? While it wasn’t everything I was hoping for, I really, really enjoyed “Valkyrie Rising”. The setting, the world, the characters were all pretty memorable and you can definitely bet I’m reading that second book, whenever it may be coming. “Valkyrie Rising” will be out October 9, 2012 from HarperTeen in North America, so be sure to check it out then!