Giants of the Frost by Kim Wilkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Giants of the Frost turned out to be a slow read, but it was a very good book. I think that the use of Norse mythology was well done. I appreciate how Ms. Wilkins took Norse mythology and folklore and created something novel with these elements as a basis.
Although it took me a while to get sucked into the romantic aspects, admittedly a big part of this book, I enjoyed reading about the characters: Victoria, Vidar, Aud, and Loki, whose fates are entwined rather deeply. I also appreciated the secondary cast of characters, the norns (three sisters who weave the fates for the Aesir), Skripi (a forest wight who is a lot of help to Victoria), and Victoria's coworkers, especially Gunnar (who is a very good friend and source of information about Norse myths to Victoria), to name a few. It was interesting to see Victoria's journey from grounded, almost boneheaded skepticism (she calls herself a fundamental atheist), to a woman who believes that she is the reincarnated lover of the son of Odin. Loki was quite the scene stealer. Ms. Wilkins managed to take this scheming, perpetually joking and stealing trickster of Norse lore, and make him into an appealing antihero who definitely got my interest. Aud, who is the bondmaid of Vidar, really earned my sympathy. She made a bargain out of a mother's love that cost her a thousand years and is in love with Vidar, although she knows it will never be returned. I liked that the characters were complex, realistically selfish in their desires at times, and not always motivated to do the right thing; yet they did show good qualities that made me want the best for them.
Ms. Wilkins is a very good writer, drawing vivid pictures in my mind. My favorite parts were the retelling of Vidar's struggle to be reunited with his love. It reminded me of fairy and folktales in which a character goes on a quest and suffers greatly, for that which is their heart's desire. I admit that there were parts where my interest waned, but I was glad I kept reading, especially when it got to the more interesting parts with Vidar's quest. Although I was a bit ambivalent about the fated love aspect of this story (more from the execution since I normally love that in a romance), I admit that by the end of the book, I was crying and hoping that Victoria and Vidar would get their chance to be together and happy.
I didn't quite know what to expect with this book. I picked it up because of my interest in Norse mythology, and I'm glad I did. This book was expertly crafted, with gratifying depths of complexity; a rich tapestry woven from the threads of identifiably human emotion--both good and bad--and fascinating lore and legend. I'll definitely be reading more from this author.
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