The Witch's Heart is unlike most other Norse Mythology retellings in that it searches for the soul of an otherwise sidelined character—a villain, for all intents and purposes—and tries to fill in some of the gaps of what we don't know. While reading, it felt like Genevieve was plagued by the same sorts of questions that had kept me up at night. Questions of motivation, cause and effect. Who are these "villains?" Why do they make the choices they do? What brings on the end of the nine realms?
(Might have something to do with all the maiming and kidnapping, but we can't be sure 🤷♀️)
The Witch's Heart is how it took a route that many of us aren't accustomed to. We don't often get to see a protective woman/wife/mother at the centre of a story. It's almost been unthinkable to have a main character whose role isn't the traditional sword-swinging hero of fantasy books from time immemorial. But this book does it beautifully. It's subtle and fearless. And it's a side of Norse Mythology and Viking-age culture that we sorely need to see because no culture is just blood and war.
I love this book for the story it tells, but also for what it's doing for other authors. It's the type of book I've been dying to read, and the type of book I've been trying to write. Every day that it's out there on shelves, it's forging a path for books like mine.
This book means more to me than I can really express, and has helped me become a better version of myself in so many small, important ways.
So if this hasn't convinced you to read, here's the TL;DR:
Why you'll love this book:
A Norse Myth Retelling in the same vein as Circe by Madeline Miller
A focus on relationships and introspection
Angrboda has a strength to her that doesn't rely on swords and muscles
The myths are expertly weaved together and myth nerds will love the solutions she's come up with to the problem of a cohesive narrative.
There's a Loki you're gonna love to hate
You'll wish Skadi was building you a bedroom set too
A touching, emotional experience of motherhood and family
This book isn't for you if:
You're stuck in a rigid view of the myths and how they happened
You aren't open to LGBTQA+ characters and interpretations of myths
You prefer a book full of epic battles
You don't like villain origin stories
You don't want to focus on character arcs and development
You're looking for A++ healthy relationships and good decision-makers
You hate crying yourself to sleep
Until next time!