Author: Susan Krinard
Genre: Urban/metaphysical/magical realism fantasy
Pub Date Jul 16 2013
Mist grabbed me and pulled me right into the story from the beginning. It was as if I was there in San Francisco with Mist, a Vaylkerie and daughter of Freyer a powerful Norse god. Mist has been in Midgard – earth -for thousands of years, left here when the gods disappeared. She thought they’d gone forever but learns from an elf – she thought there were none of them left in Midgard either until he turned up – that they had been banished to a formless world, and now bridges were appearing between the worlds and the frost giants had begun crossing over.
The action begins early. We just have enough time to get to know Mist before her world changes and she’s battling for her life. She discovers that her lover of 6 months is in fact the trickster god Loki, master of the giants. He steals the staff entrusted into her care by Odin – head god – and disappears, leaving her a note so she knows she’s been had.
Mist is suitably pissed off, but there’s more at stake here than her pride, for Freyer and Loki are at war for slights caused long in the past. The elf, Dainn has his own secrets as well, and two of Odin’s sons are also in the city, but they aren’t sure allies. As the story progresses it becomes clear that Midgard is soon to be the battle ground for a war of the gods. Mist’s life is never going back to the comfortable normalcy she’d made for herself.
It’s a complex story with shifting alliances and past events weighing heavily on present ones. Freyer can’t work out how to cross the magical bridges but she can posses her daughter to act in the world. Mist doesn’t see the danger of this but Dainn does. He’s a servant of Freyer, but he doesn’t want to see Mist subsumed by her mother.
There are plenty of surprises, plenty of action and some very twisted relationships between the gods who, like their Greek cousins, seem interested primarily in sex and power. I can’t fault this book technically, the plot is interesting and often unexpected, the pacing keeps you hooked in and the characters are multifaceted and fascinating. The ending leaves us ready for a sequel that I am keen to read.
You could call this urban fantasy because it takes place in a modern urban environment, but without the vampires and witches who usually populate urban fantasy and with a fully developed world of Norse mythology, it is more contemporary metaphysical fantasy. How is it metaphysical? It has the two aspects of metaphysical fiction. The Norse mythology is the comprehensive system of thought and the mental states described in the magic are the ineffable, the non corporeal aspects of human experience. There’s a great deal of power in any story that has a full commitment to a philosophy or system of thought and this book is full of it. The author has clearly done her research, or at least makes us believe so, for the world of Norse mythology comes alive.
I particularly liked the descriptions of the mental states and see similarities in the beast inside Dainn and the one inside Nick from my Diamond Peak series. This story goes a step further, however, it gives the beast form, and in that respect it is magical realism. This is the first traditionally published book I have read with this combination of fantasy, magical realism and metaphysics and it’s good to see a publisher abandoning the safe but sure mentality of the big six and moving in a more interesting direction. It’s a very exciting form of fiction and it’s freshness is sorely needed in a market swamped with urban and paranormal fantasy that is often predictable and somewhat stale.
I’m surprised at the many low starred reviews of this book on Goodreads and figure that perhaps it’s because the plot is more complicated than most urban fantasy, and I can understanding it seeming a little messy in comparison to the more straightfoward ones they’re used to. Some people had issues with Mist as a person, but these personal preferences don’t change the fact that’s a very well- written book. Some complained about Mist’s poor choices, but a heroine with flaws is much more real and creates a more interesting plot than someone too perfect. It may also be the mix of style elements, that I really enjoyed, that make it a bit tricky for some readers because they do make the book different. I congratulate McMillian Tor for publishing something from this wonderful new direction in fantasy. If you enjoy this style, look for more of it within independent publishing. There’s a new wave of extremely well written independent fiction that is forging new directions, especially in fantasy. See http://awesomeindies for a list of those that meet the same standards as mainstream publishing.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review.