The Witch's Heart
Updated: Jul 14, 2021
Rating - ⭐⭐⭐
"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's Heart is a standalone fantasy novel by Genevieve Gornichec.
If you take anything away from this book, it's that Loki is definitely not winning any father or husband of the year awards, and that mythological figures all suck (except for Skadi who deserved better).
Condensing mythological tales into a cohesive and compelling story is a hard thing to do, and I don't think this book was entirely successful in doing so. It is also more complicated when you're dealing with mythology that is not as plentiful as the classics. Norse mythology only has so many sources to pull from, and the author certainly tried their best to shove in as much as they could in this. Because of this, the story did not flow very well due to the fragmented nature of the stories. Going into this, I already knew pretty much all of the stories told, and I don't know whether or not that helped or hindered my reading experience.
One minor thing that bothered me in terms of writing was the way Jormungand was spelled. As far as I am aware (and due to a quick google search), it is spelled Jörmungandr. So it bothered me that the word is missing a letter, as it throws off the pronunciation. I don't know if that's how the word is romanized or something or the author just didn't notice it was spelled wrong for the entirety of the book...
In terms of characters, I don't know how I feel about the story being told from Angrboda's perspective. On the one hand, she was one of the few figures that I did not know much about, so it was interesting to learn about her. On the other hand, however, she wasn't a very compelling main character. As I said before, the only character who had any redeemable qualities about them was Skadi (and the she-wolf). Loki was just not a good person (which to be fair I already knew), and picturing Tom Hiddleston as him sadly didn't help at all.
Books like these are incredibly ambitious, and it didn't entirely pay off. Maybe I should just avoid books that rely heavily on mythological source material.