Goodreads Synopsis: When a banished witch falls in love with the legendary trickster Loki, she risks the wrath of the gods in this moving, subversive debut novel that reimagines Norse mythology. Angrboda’s story begins where most witches’ tales end: with a burning. A punishment from Odin for refusing to provide him with knowledge of the future, the fire leaves Angrboda injured and powerless, and she flees into the farthest reaches of a remote forest. There she is found by a man who reveals himself to be Loki, and her initial distrust of him transforms into a deep and abiding love. Their union produces three unusual children, each with a secret destiny, who Angrboda is keen to raise at the edge of the world, safely hidden from Odin’s all-seeing eye. But as Angrboda slowly recovers her prophetic powers, she learns that her blissful life—and possibly all of existence—is in danger. With help from the fierce huntress Skadi, with whom she shares a growing bond, Angrboda must choose whether she’ll accept the fate that she’s foreseen for her beloved family…or rise to remake their future. From the most ancient of tales this novel forges a story of love, loss, and hope for the modern age.
Genre: Fantasy, Retelling, Mythology, LGBT
Date of Publication: February 9th, 2021
Publisher: Ace Books
Length: 368 pages
My rating: 5/5
This book is heartbreak and yearning, but in a good way! I’ve been trying to think about how to describe this book for a while now, having finished it back in March. It’s like that comforting melancholy you feel when deliberately watching a sad movie just to feel sad for a while. Normally I finish good books quite quickly, because I’m so excited to see how they end. I ended up taking a bit longer to read The Witch’s Heart, because I didn’t want it to end. I wanted to savour it and stay with the characters just a little while longer.
I knew a passable amount of Norse Mythology going into this story, and of course Marvel has played a role in popularizing a few of the main Norse gods. The story of Angrboda is not one I was familiar with, although her children make it into the more commonly known stories. I like that her story is the main focus of this book, with the more popular Norse myths appearing in the sidelines. Genevieve Gornichec breathed life into Angrboda’s character, and it’s hard not to fall in love with her and the life she builds herself. Personally, I can relate to wanting to go off and live in a cave and avoid most of humanity.
The plot of the book is slower-paced, but very enjoyable. The complexity of the characters and the depth of the story mean it doesn’t need a million twists or non-stop action. The descriptions of the domesticity of Angrboda’s life are soothing. It reminded me of playing the farm simulator games like Stardew Valley, where you can relax in the simplicity of day to day. There is a decent amount of romance as well, but I would say that it’s a slower, comforting romance, very fitting with the pace of the book. I don’t mean to downplay the action in this book, there definitely is plenty. There is violence, drama, and questing, and plenty of Loki shenanigans, which is very on brand for Norse mythology.
I would say that The Witch’s Heart was one of the more highly anticipated (by me) books on my TBR list, and it more than delivered! It’s got such a wonderful vibe, it just wraps around you like a blanket and pulls you into the story. It’s the perfect choice on a day when you just want to curl up with a book and spend a whole afternoon reading. I highly recommend this book to any lovers of mythology retellings, or anyone who needs a good dose of heartache without actually getting their heart broken.