What if I told you that the entire cosmos was a tree?
In Norse mythology, Yggdrasil is the central, sacred tree around which the entire Nordic universe, that is to say the Nine Worlds exists. The inhabitants of these nine worlds are everyone from gods to valkyries to elves.
Yes, I have been doing my reading. In fact, I feel like I’ve entered my mythology-obsessed phase once again. But which was the book that got me interested in Norse mythology of all things?
Title: The Helheim Princess
Author: Tiana Warner
Genre: YA Fantasy, Mythology
Publishing Date: 4th January, 2022
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
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A thrilling, intricate, and romantic #OwnVoices LGBTQ fantasy that builds on Norse mythology into a beautiful story all its own.
For as long as Sigrid could remember, she’s wanted to become a mighty, fearless valkyrie. But without a winged mare, she’s a mere stable hand, left wondering who her parents were and why she’s so different. So when the Eye shows her a vision where she’s leading a valkyrie charge on the legendary eight-legged horse Sleipnir, she grabs the possibility of this greater destiny with both hands, refusing to let go.
Too bad that the only one who can help her get there is Mariam, an enemy valkyrie who begrudgingly agrees to lead her to Helheim but who certainly can’t be trusted―even if she does make Sigrid more than a little flustered. As they cross the nine worlds, battling night elves, riding sea serpents, and hurtling into fire to learn the truth about Sigrid’s birthright, an unexpected but powerful bond forms.
As her feelings for Mariam deepen into something fiery and undeniable, Fate has other plans for Sigrid. What happens when the one thing you think you were meant to do might end the nine worlds?
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange of a sincere review. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
At first glance, the plot of The Helheim Princess won’t seem much different than a lot of YA fantasies out there. It follows an outcast, somehow different from all her peers, trying to find her place in a world that shuns her for being who she is.
But it takes a closer look to spot the uniqueness in this story. One thing I really liked was how realistically our main character, Sigrid, reacted to her environment. At times she doubted herself and her abilities because the other valkyries looked down on her, at others she was determined not to let the taunts sway her resolve and set out to prove that she was just as good as any valkyrie if not better.
Perhaps, being somewhat of a mythology nerd, I’m slightly biased, but the best thing about this book was how the author drew from the elements of Norse mythology. There was enough about it to make the reader comfortable, but not enough for the world building to be called an info dump. I can only imagine how hard this delicate balance is to achieve; I’ve seen books go wrong both ways of this scale.
I can assure you that I went in with nearly zero prior knowledge about Norse mythology, and emerged as someone who could save face if ever asked the basics.
Other exciting things about this book were fierce female characters, sapphic slow-burn, and of course our beloved quest-to-retrieve-a-stolen-relic trope! The animal lover in me deeply appreciated the bond between Sigrid and Hestur (her horse), the way their love for each other never faltered through the ups and downs of their journey.
I do have some misgivings though. The pacing felt slightly off, too slow in the beginning and then quite rushed in the second half. Then there was the ending. It all felt too easy somehow, and maybe that has something to do with the sequel, yet it felt that there was this rush to wrap it all up.
The twists and reveals were sort of predictable and I was not a fan of a particular toxic parent child relationship.
Overall, it was a quick and enjoyable read. I’d recommend The Helheim Princess to anyone looking for a mythology-driven epic fantasy with a dash of adventure!
Do you have The Helheim Princess on your tbr? Are you interested in reading mythology? Let me know in the comments!
P.S. My Review Index page is now live! You can find all my reviews till date in an alphabetical manner there!