I received this book via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.
Series: Valkyrie #1
Published by Wednesday Books on 2018-01-02
Length: 325 pages
Reviewing eARC from Netgalley
Reading Challenges: 2018 New Release Challenge, COYER Winter Switch
Valkyries have one great responsibility: to return immortals to the afterlife by slaying them. As a Valkyrie, Malin has always known that the balance of the world rests on her ability to carry out orders. But when Malin discovers that her mother spared the life of an immortal who was destined to die, her world is thrown into chaos.
Malin not only wrestles with the knowledge that her mother might not be who she thought—she’s also thrust into the path of a gorgeous blue eyed guy named Asher who needs her help slaying the rogue immortal who destroyed his family. The balance of the world is at stake. And, as Asher competes with Malin’s ex for her love and loyalty, so is her heart.
Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking is the first in her Valkyrie duology. This book was all action with a little romance which made it a fast read despite its size. My favorite part of the book though was the blending of urban contemporary with Norse mythology. It’s not a common thing in YA fantasy and I loved seeing it here. Amanda Hocking did a fantastic job of taking the mythology and interweaving it with today’s world. Following Malin, a young Valkyrie in training, Between the Blade and the Heart brings into question the choice of free will and the guiding hand of fate.
Malin was an interesting character to say the least. At 19 she is attending college as she completes her Valkyrie training. She feels she was destined to be a Valkyrie, nothing else feels right in her life except the returning of immortals when deemed by the gods. Returning is a nice word for killing….just fyi 😉 She strives for the approval of her mother who has never been a kind woman. But when Malin discovers that her infallible mother made a choice to spare an immortal destined to die, everything Malin thought she knew comes into question. Her life is thrown off balance by this one choice and now she must correct it if she is going to save the world.
But as much as I liked Malin, I loved Asher. Asher is the son of a Valkyrie who was killed by the immortal Malin’s mother neglected to return. Asher is out for revenge and that starts with finding out why Malin’s mother spared this immortal. Despite this need for revenge, he is kind, level headed, and shows Malin that not all Valkyries are as cruel as her mother can be.
The main plot follows Malin and her new found friend as they track down this immortal. But the deeper they go, the more they realize there is more at stake than correcting a wrong. The entire world hangs in the balance. The action is interspersed with the answers Malin seeks and I found myself engrossed. My only complaint about the story was the romance. Malin is bisexual and her ex is also a Valkyrie. Now according to the book they’ve been apart for six months when Asher enters the scene. Malin spends her time kissing both in the book and I didn’t care for that. It was a love triangle that only Malin knew she was in….does that make sense? I felt it brought unnecessary drama to the an already action-packed, dramatic plot.
Overall Between the Blade and the Heart was just okay for me. As much as I loved the interweaving of contemporary and mythology, it couldn’t carry the book. The world-building while fantastic was hard to follow. To be honest the book would benefit from having a glossary in the back because there are so many names for demons, cities, ruling parties, etc. that I found myself flipping back trying to figure out who was who. And as I already mentioned the annoying triangle I won’t go into that again. Despite the negative though I plan to read the next book because I am invested in the characters and need to know what will happen next….especially after that bombshell ending. If you enjoy urban mythology, a little romance and a lot of action, you should check out this book.