As you may know, I’ve been reading Viking-inspired works recently, as part of some research for my own WIP. Enter in Northern Wrath by Thilde Kold Holdt, a most anticipated book that felt perfect for what I was looking for. Namely, to see an example of a popular Viking-inspired fantasy.
What Northern Wrath ended up being, for me, was a little more complicated, for a lot of factors that definitely fall under a Me Problem™.
Publisher: Solaris | Release Date: October 2020 | Pages: 616
Age Range: Adult | Genre: Fantasy | Format: Paperback | Source: Bought
Following in the steps of Neil Gaiman & Joanne Harris, the author expertly weaves Norse myths and compelling characters into this fierce, magical epic fantasy.
A dead man, walking between the worlds, foresees the end of the gods.
A survivor searching for a weapon releases a demon from fiery Muspelheim.
A village is slaughtered by Christians, and revenge must be taken.
The bonds between the gods and Midgard are weakening. It is up to Hilda, Ragnar, their tribesmen Einer and Finn, the chief’s wife Siv and Tyra, her adopted daughter, to fight to save the old ways from dying out, and to save their gods in the process.
On the Page
- Animal attack
- Animal death
- Blood and gore depiction
- Body modifications
- Dead bodies and body parts
- Death of a child
- Eyeball trauma
- Home invasion
- Indentured servitude
- Loss of vision
- Mind control and possession
- Murder and attempted murder
- War themes and military violence
- Coerced marriage
- Religious persecution
Content warnings are written up by me, unless specified. Subject to being an incomplete list, though guided by referencing this list and trying to highlight as many as I can identify.
- Obviously well-researched: So, the biggest strength of this book was the obvious care and attention to the research behind it. Holdt obviously knows their Viking history and took great lengths to make sure it’s honored here. Honestly, I’m a bit awed by it. I don’t think that type of research is something I could ever pull off like they have. But, it also confirmed for me that I’m looking to have influences from Viking culture within my WIP, but not be a book that is centered within Viking lore and culture, like Northern Wrath is.
- Some of the characters: Within this story, I had my favorites and, since it’s multi-POV, that definitely made some chapters read faster than others. Those that followed Einer, Tyra and Siv, in particular. Einer was just plain hard to dislike. Tyra broke my heart and I rooted for her hard. And Siv…who can’t be fascinated by her?
- Ending: I won’t lie: despite my reservations listed, the ending left me wanting to know what happened next. An impressive feat, since most of this book had me convinced I wouldn’t be continuing the series.
- Length: Normally, your girl doesn’t mind long books at all. But this book felt like it took ages to get through (I mean, it did take a full month to read). And often, I found that I wished it was shorter, particularly with its descriptions and narratives (despite well written). There were even entire characters I could have done without.
- Some of the characters: Speaking of characters, like I mentioned with characters I liked section, there were some that I just wished I could skip their chapters all together. Though I found Hilda fascinating, her chapters often felt too repetitive to be enjoyable. And Ragnar just didn’t make any sense. I’m still not sure how he fits into the fabric of the story. And, I just felt like there were too many for me to stay full invested in them all.
- Repetition: Personally, I thought this book could have used some trimming down of repetition, both of ideas and sometimes, even word choice within pages.
I think it’s a bit unfortunate that I ended up not enjoying Northern Wrath more, especially like I expected to. Honestly, I think it’s more because of me than any qualities of the book. Starting it while I was still COVID-ridden and during two different hospital trips definitely affected how I associated the book (negatively, albeit unconsciously). Then, because I also read it in context for research and as a potential comp, I was constantly comparing it to Hall of Smoke by H.M. Long; a book that is much closer to what I’m wanting to do with my own WIP and one I enjoyed more overarchingly. So, this one felt “worse” simply by the nature of the comparison, which I admit, is a bit unfair.
All that said, I think I would enjoyed Northern Wrath more had I a) read it during different circumstance and b) with different context. And, despite some of my reservations, I am curious as to what happens next. If you’re interested in a fantasy novel of complex character maps, heavily influenced by Viking culture and mythology, I’d recommend this!