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Hallad Avarson’s vow to protect a mysterious warrior maiden pits his best friend against him, endangers the life of his little sister, and leads him into a treacherous realm of magic and intrigue.

This richly imagined epic fantasy transports readers into a tale of seductive power, heart-wrenching love, and edge-of-your seat thrills, while following inspiring young heroes and heroines as they discover their abilities and destinies interweave with the fate of a captivatingly original world.

Blurb and cover from Goodreads and author’s website

5 out of 5 stars

This book has led me to conclude that Norse mythology in fantasy books is entirely underrated. I had so much fun reading this and experienced such a wide range of emotions. It was different from other books I’ve read in its fresh take on the Nordic legends and its storyline and premise and I am very, very excited for Broken coming this year!

The plot:

This book starts off with a lot of questions—who is Swan? Who’s after her? Why can Hal hear her in his head? We are given a lot of answers, but a few new questions by the end that only serve to entice one for the next book. I greatly enjoyed this story and the characters and I was rooting for them, cheering at their victories, and cringing at their defeats.

The characters:

The main focus of the story is Hal, though his younger sister, her intended, and several others all have chapters in their perspectives. Hal was a character who took responsibility very seriously as the heir apparent to his father’s leadership of the village. I quickly grew fond of him and the relationships between him and Emma and him and Swan were precious.

Erik is Hal’s blood brother and Emma’s swain. He was headstrong, stubborn, overreacted, and could be very difficult to reason with. And I adored him to bits. I normally just want to clobber those sorts of characters, but Ms. Matthews made Erik relatable and showed his loving side in a way that made up for it even when I got frustrated with him. He truly loves Emma and is willing to do anything for her and it was just so sweet! (Fangirl moment over. Promise.)

Swan is a rather mysterious and one doesn’t quite know what to make of her. Even if you have read the prequel novella, there are still things that aren’t quite clear. Normally, the maiden warrior characters are hit or miss for me and Swan was definitely a hit. She can hold her own, but Ms. Matthews made sure to give her enough vulnerabilities to make her sympathetic. She was certainly one of my favorite she-warriors of 2013.

Emma was so adorable. Loving, caring, innocent, with a desire to see everyone safe, but not an airheaded, oblivious moron. It was tormentive to see her in the clutches of Lothar and I kind of hated her mother for :SPOILER: giving her over to him. :SPOILER OVER: I really hope she and Erik get their HEA in the end.

I am very excited for the next book in this series and wish the author would hurry up and publish it already. It’s not everyday I find a good YA Epic Fantasy and I want more of this one!

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