This was a book for last year’s SPFBO contest and I hadn’t reviewed it yet! A few of my 110 slipped through the cracks and I’m getting to them now 😀
I was talking with the r/fantasy discorld channel’s mythology/history whizz, Daniel E Olesen, about this book when I was working on the review and he informed me that this is an Eros and Pysche retelling! I’m woefully uneducated on most mythology so that went right over my head even though this plotline felt vaguely familiar.
It starts out with a young 15 year old girl, Euthalia, who’s on a boat with her father. He was trying to find a husband for her but came up empty-handed when they find themselves surrounded by pirates. The pirates gave her father a choice of handing over something valuable or being enslaved. So, he hands his daughter over to the slavers and leaves her to her fate. She’s told she’s going to be a bride and when she arrives in the village she’s hit with another blow that she’ll be a “sacrificial bride” to the “dragon”. She doesn’t know what this means, but she’s utterly terrified.
A man comes to visit her at night claiming to be her husband, and at first she’s relieved because he was in human form, but then he tells her that he’s not human and produces a blinding flash of light and Euthalia loses consciousness. When she wakes up, she’s in a world that looks like the village she went to sleep in, but she has since passed out of Midgard into the realm of the gods. She was “sent” a servant via human sacrifice, since normal men and women can’t pass out of Midgard without dying first.
Euthalia finds that she’s now fluent in another language and stuck in a realm outside of her known reality. She’s trying to find ways to relate to her new husband but she doesn’t know how to impress a god, so she starts to tell him about the mythos and legendary stories of her people, the Greeks. He’s so entertained by the stories that he invites her to the banquet hall where all the gods congregate for meals, from Odin to Thor to Loki. She entertains the gods at dinner with stories of the ancient Greek gods and mythology and earns herself the nickname, Songweaver.
Loki, per usual, is a pot-stirrer and gets himself into trouble constantly, and he’s also the social outcast, not really fitting in and constantly being ridiculed or beaten. Things go too far one day, people end up dead, and Odin blames Loki for it. As a consequence for his involvement in the deaths, Loki is sentenced to a life of torture and agony, and his sons were put to death.
Meanwhile, Euthalia’s husband has remained mysterious, he insists that she never see his face, and he only visits her at night. Loki tampers with things and she ends up seeing his face, and her husband flees leaving her alone in Asgard. Euthalia finds herself without a husband alone in a world with gods, and to make it worse her best friend is mad at her because she partially blames her for Odin’s choice in punishment for Loki. Without Euthalia’s stories, Odin would likely have picked a different form of punishment, and perhaps one not quite so cruel. Euthalia then goes on a quest to find her husband, and find help for Loki and his wife.
The writing style was pretty straightforward, single POV third person present. I didn’t catch many errors so overall it was a clean quick read.
I did want a bit more from the characters, I didn’t find myself too connected to them, I kept turning pages for the plot. I didn’t dislike Euthalia, and she does have good attributes to her, she’s a generally good person who wants to do right by her husband and her friend. She’s horrified about what’s happened to Loki and is going through a lot of hoops to try and set things right.
- Single POV third person
- quick reads
- Norse mythology
- female pov
- Eros and Pysche retellings
- Plot 11/15
- Characters: 10/15
- World Building: 11/15
- Writing: 11/15
- Pacing: 10/15
- Originality: 10/15
- Personal Enjoyment: 5.5/10