This is an Allison review!
According to Norse mythology, the Valkyries are women who escort some of the men who die in battle to Valhalla, where they then become undead warriors under the god Odin. Sounds interesting, right? Imagine if it were in a more modern context. That is what happens in Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson, and it is oh so good! Ahh! I love mythology especially when it deals with strong women who take no crap from anyone. Oh, and who can destroy you with one simple look, or one simple pounce if you choose to get in their way. This is totally a girl power book!
The main character is sixteen year old Ellie, who is forever stuck in her perfect and overly protective older brother Graham’s shadow. Together they travel to Norway to visit their grandmother for the summer along with Graham’s best friend Tucker. (Side bar: Can I go visit Norway for the summer? Seriously!). Ellie doesn’t expect much from the trip, and is very surprised when the strangest things start happening. For starters, the two they stay in has had a recent occurrence of teenage boys going missing in what seems like impossible kidnappings; and the person who is getting blamed for the kidnappings is none other than Ellie’s grandmother. The two is very suspicious of her and they believe her to be a witch, and because of Ellie’s appearance and her relationship to her grandmother, the town quickly becomes suspicious of her too. Ultimately, the truth of what is actually happening becomes crystal clear one night at a pub when a gorgeous blonde woman tries to kidnap a friend right in front of Ellie. Suddenly, something very powerful awakens in her, and she discovers that she is a descent of the Valkyries and that they are the ones who are responsible for the impossible kidnappings. She also discovers that it may just be up to her to stop them. So much for a quiet summer vacation, right?
I loved Valkyrie Rising. I loved EVERY character in this book. Good or bad each character had their own role and was written into the story in such a perfect fashion. It was obvious that they had been really fleshed out by Ingrid Paulson. I loved the setting for the story. Again, can I go visit Norway for the summer? I also loved the story, and all of its highly detailed twists and turns, and its lack of a love triangle. Yes, there is not a triangle. Hallajuah!
The transformation of Ellie is one of my favorite parts of Valkyrie Rising. I loved watching her discover herself. She starts out as this shy, soft spoke, insecure girl who wouldn’t even dare to hurt a fly. She spends her days in her brother’s shadow bantering with his best friend Tucker. Tucker is the only one who seems to be able to bring out the spark in Ellie (more about this later). That is until she discovers that she is a Valkyrie; once she discovers this, her inner strength and courage slowly starts emerging in ways she could never have imagined. The strength that has always been inside her emerges in such a wonderful way, it is really enjoyable to witness. She no longer questions what she can do but instead just goes with her gut instinct and reflects on it later. Her primary goal is to protect her family, even if it means sacrificing herself. Oh, and she can totally kick ass (with a little training of course).
Not only is the protagonist a kick ass female but so is the main perceived “bad girl”. Her name is Astrid, and if looks could kill you would probably be dead right now from looking at her. She is the current head of the Valkyries, and the one leading the mission to kidnap the boys. She does not take crap from anyone. She is also stunningly beautiful, and she uses that to her advantage. She is also a really good fighter but things are not exactly what they seem with Astrid, and the mystery surrounding her kept me highly interested and turning pages.
You know what else kept me turning pages? The romance! I told you I’d come back to the bantering between Ellie and Tucker. These two put such a big smile on my face. I loved Tuck. He was so snarky, and hilarious funny, and I loved the way that he would infuriate Ellie. Of course, underneath the bantering there are a few stronger, deeper emotions that are always threatening to bubble to the surface, and when push comes to shove, it is Tuck that is there to help Ellie as she tries to figure out what to do about the other Valkyries. It was really sweet, and adorable, and I loved it. Especially since it turns out that Tuck has a secret (of course) that could ultimately hinder not only their growing relationship but also the way that Ellie has to deal with the Valkyries. ‘Tis very interesting and exciting.
Overall, the twists and turns of Valkyrie Rising kept me very involved in the story as I was reading. To quote what I posted on twitter at one point: “I can’t stop smiling and squealing like a school girl.” (That was probably about something related to Ellie/Tuck but alas it still works the story as a whole). I loved the way that Ingrid Paulson incorporated the myth of the Valkyries. She really kept me on my toes; and after all the twists and turns I loved how everything blended together. It was all very interconnected. Admittedly I didn’t know much about the Valkyries before but now I really want to learn more about them. I also really want to know if there is going to be a sequel to Valkyrie Rising because it sure feels like there is the potential to be one (don’t worry though it’s not a cliff hanger)! Please say yes. I want more adventures with the Valkyries.
Disclosure: Free gift from Oblong Books
Other Reviews of Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson:
Dark Faerie Tales — “Valkyrie Rising is a book of epic proportions.”