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Monday, February 8, 2021

Book Review: The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

When a banished witch falls in love with the legendary trickster Loki, she risks the wrath of the gods in this moving, subversive debut novel that reimagines Norse mythology.

The Witch’s Heart
by Genevieve Gornichec
February 9, 2021
Publisher: Ace
ASIN: B088F35VD9 ISBN: 9780593099940
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.

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.

The witch, Angrboda, has been speared and burned three times then reborn each time. This third time, she cannot remember much and runs into a forest to heal. There, a man approaches her and calls
 himself Loki. She falls in love, becomes his wife, and gives birth to three children. With her eldest a girl, she uses magic to bring her back from death. The two boys aren't human. They stay safe in the woods out of sight of Odin’s all-seeing eye, in a cave she had made into a comfortable abode. Her prophetic powers are returning, and Angrboda begins to realize the dangers to her life and her family.

I really enjoyed this retelling/reworking of a part of Norse mythology connected to Loki and Angrboda and their children, reworking other bits of the myths from the Prose Edda and others to flesh out the story and the characters. I sympathized with Angrboda, her children: Hel, Fenrir, Jormungand, and yes, even for Loki. If you've read the myth and about Ragnarök, then you know how it ends, but there is more to this story than what the mythology gives us, with an ending I did not expect. 

If you enjoy Norse mythology, the Marvel Comic version and the movie, and good high fantasy, you will enjoy this novel.

I gave The Witch’s Heart 5 heroic Norse sheep.

Reviewed by Pamela K. Kinney

About the Author:
Genevieve Gornichec earned her degree in history from Ohio State University, but she got as close to majoring in Vikings as she possibly could, and her study of the Norse myths and Icelandic sagas became her writing inspiration. She lives in Cleveland, Ohio. The Witch’s Heart is her debut novel.

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