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The Valkyrie's Daughter

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It's certainly nice to see Norse mythology get the queer YA treatment in The Valkyrie's Daughter, but that is unfortunately its main draw. Underneath the smattering of Norse words and ideas, there is quite an unremarkable tale of a classic YA chosen one outsider, which is easy enough to read but not a standout. I have no issue with diverging from "true" mythology (because that is basically a nonsense idea), but it is quite hard to make sense of this world, which on the one hand has some very niche references and on the other hand doesn't feel like it is going for much of a Norse setting at all. The central valkyrie idea as magical horse girls is fine as an innovation, but it ends up landing with a really weird gender essentialism (even though it accepts queerness). I honestly wish this had just embraced a Norse-flavoured "girl and her horse" style narrative and made that central, because I feel like that could have made for a charming (and possibly MG) book rather than the fine but forgettable read we have.

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Thank you to the author and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC.

I started this book back in October. When I reached around the 45% mark, I started to struggle. I’m not sure why. This story has everything I love - LGBTQIA+ characters, adventure, Norse mythology. Warner’s prose is lovely. I just???

Finally, today, as I sit at Schipol airport, after it taking two hours to get through security and my flight being delayed a few hours, I said I had to finish this book. I did. And I’m glad I did. It took until about 60% for me to get sucked back into the story. It picked up again.

The evil mastermind behind this all was a bit predictable. And their confession was a bit like Dr. Doofenshmirtz-like.

However, I know this is probably aimed at a younger audience.

I loved the depth of the world building and the characters. I could really envision it all. And besides the middle like 15-20% I was rapidly reading through as I was just sucked into the story. So, definitely give this a read!

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I really liked the first fifty percent of the book. But after that, things felt a little rushed for a story that's supposed to span a trilogy. I still liked all the characters the writing and the plot though and I'm excited to read the next book.

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DNF: 22%

Before I get started with my review, I want to acknowledge that I did abandon this book at the 22% mark. That is an unusual choice for me and it’s not one that I make lightly. I did give this book two chances; but, once it put me into a reading slump, I knew it was time to put this book aside for a few weeks to see how I felt about picking it up again. In the end, I decided to abandon reading this book.

I was looking forward to this story. I am a fan of any book involving Norse mythology (honestly, there aren’t enough in the young adult world!), and I wanted to support a book that featured a sapphic romance. Pair that with an amazing cover and title—I was sold immediately. However, once I began reading the story, things began to quickly get... Dicey.

Before I start with the developmental issues, I want to start with the strong elements of this novel, which was Sigrid’s character. Sigrid had clear character motivations; I never once questioned what her goals were, or how her character development would help her in reaching those goals. As far as a main character goes, she was well-written and proved herself to be the pillar of the story.

However, Sigrid’s characterization wasn’t enough to distract from the developmental issues of this novel. For instance, the writing style was not as rich as I expected (or wanted) it to be. With the book synopsis in mind, I expected two things: 1) for the Norse Mythology to be a greater foundational piece for the story; and, 2) for the writing style to be balanced with figurative language to build up the setting, images, and atmosphere. None of those things occurred, which led the story to feeling juvenile and choppy. I was missing a consistent flow I was craving for a YA fantasy novel.

The writing style issue continued with the dialogue, as well. Much of the dialogue felt too colloquial and modern for the Norse-inspired setting. It’s not that the story needed strict, old sounding language, but I wished the dialogue didn’t sound like it had been planted from modern day into the Norse-inspired novel. Ultimately, both writing style issues pulled me out of the story, and I was never able to find my footing with the novel.

Although I only read 22% of the novel, there were some plotting issues, as well. There were too many instances of the set-up and pay-off of a plot point coming too close together. (I’m looking at the vision sequences from chapter six through chapter eight.) It often felt like the story was trying to rush from scene to scene instead of giving the characters time to live in the moment and truly work through what was happening.

Overall, this novel felt more middle grade than YA to me. Which was disappointing to see! I came in to this book imagining an amazing plot-line carrying us through Norse mythology with a sapphic romance. Instead, I was distracted by the poor writing style and inconsistent pacing of the story’s opening.

Thank you to Entangled Teen and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book.

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The Valykyrie’s Daughter by Tiana Warner


399 Pages
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC, Entangled: Teen
Release Date: July 26, 2022

Fiction, LGBTQIA, Sci Fi, Fantasy, Teen, Young Adult

The young Valkyries are privileged teens living in Vanaheim. They spend their days training and sparing flying through the air on their white mares. Sigrid is an orphan and lives in the stable with her brown gelding Hestur. Together, the serve at the pleasure of the Valkyries.

Vala, the Seer, comes to the training field one afternoon and shows everyone a vision – Vanaheim will be attacked and soon. The young Valkyries stake out positions around the castle to protect the royal family. That evening, the gates are attacked by Night Elves, Dire Wolves, and other Valkyries. Sigrid sees a Valkyrie going to the Seer’s tower and realizes what she is after – The Eye of Hnitbjorg. It is the most precious item in the kingdom, and any of the nine worlds that owns it will become more powerful.

The story is fast paced, the characters are somewhat developed, and it is written in the third person point of view. I enjoyed this story and have studied Norse culture for many years The author did an excellent job with referencing the nine worlds and their inhabitants. I also liked how Sigrid realizes her feelings are not for Peter, the stable hand but for a Valkyrie. It is a good coming of age book and I look forward to reading more by this author in the future.

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A solid young adult pick, especially for those who like horses (or even flying horses). I loved the Norse mythology since it's a world we aren't as familiar with. The author's note at the end offers some fascinating insight. She also explains where and why she chose to "adapt" certain aspects of the mythology to make it her own.
Really great characters and worldbuilding. Definitely, some difficult to ignore young adult tropes such as, "friendship is magical!", etc. but otherwise enjoyable for new adults.
The Sapphic romance is secondary to the plot but I expect to see it more thoroughly explored in future installments (I hope).

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Thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to read this YA book. From the title, I had a general idea of what to expect when introduced to the main character- Sigrid, the Stablehand. Following the traditional YA trope of the orphan looking for her destiny, this book had the potential to establish Sigrid as a lead character in mythological fiction, like Percy Jackson or Magnus Chase. However, I didn't find her character or story well-developed. Luckily, I have prior knowledge of Norse mythology, but everyone who picks up this tale won't have that. I think this was a lost opportunity to create a dynamic series.

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The beginning and ending of this book were the best parts. I genuinely wondered if Sigrid would get to join the Valkyries in the beginning and the ending was well wrapped up and I was pleased with how it ended. I like Sigrid, Mariam, and Fisk and their dynamic. I like the relationship that blossoms between Sigrid and Mariam though it takes some odd turns at time, but works out in the end for which I’m very happy about. The middle of the book lost my interest and I ended up skimming and even skipping parts to move the story along. I can only give 2 stars since the majority of the book didn’t hold my interest. The journey to Helheim where they immediately got caught and then went with Elina even though it was obvious she had ulterior motives I found to be a bit exasperating. The journey down the river was ok. I really wanted to like this book more as the concept sounded awesome, the execution just fell short for me.

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Norse mythology is very tricky. Sometimes it is interesting sometimes, it is not. I liked this one. And the queer aspect is a plus.

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I received an ARC of The Valkyrie's Daughter from NetGalley and Entangled Publishing. While I did enjoy the book, I was left wanting a bit more.

I liked Sigrid as a character. She was funny and fierce. She's also a horse girl gay. If you were a horse girl growing up, you'll love her, While the book doesn't go into her sexuality too much, it's clear she likes Mariam.

My main issues with the book were that everything came together too easily. I know it's YA so maybe it was to be expected, but everything just worked out perfectly for our heroines. I also didn't love all of the dialogue. I would have also liked a bit more mythology. While there was some sprinkled in, I wanted to know more.

Maybe I am just not the targeted demographic. I think this may be perfect for young girls just getting into fantasy books.

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Actual rating: let's say 2.25

I guess the writing was just too simplistic for my taste. I'm aware that this is a young adult novel. The title change was a smart choice; otherwise there really wouldn't be any reason to read the book, as it was on its own too predictable.

The positive:
A bit of Norse mythology and worldbuilding
Perfect for horse girls?
Non-significant trans character?

I don't really know what I liked about this book. The last 20% was the best part but simultaneously the hardest to read because I just wanted it to be over with. Sigrid finally got some character development: gained some awareness and stopped acting only on her desires and chasing her destiny. As for the other characters, they were underdeveloped. Summary that turned into a spoilerish rant:

Sigrid is a special snowflake who is bullied by the other Valkyries and looked down upon by almost everyone except some other stable boys. As a baby, she was found among the newborn Valkyries, except with an ordinary horse unlike the others, hence why she can't be a Valkyrie. She wants to be one of them so bad. So, when they are attacked by a Valkyrie troop from Helheim, she, of course, dives into trouble and accidentally kills one of the Helheim Valkyrie's mares. Which is very frowned upon. Each mare is connected to their Valkyrie, and losing it is devastating (supposedly). But Mariam gets over the loss pretty easily and doesn't really hold any hostility towards Sigrid. The Helheim Valkyries steal a magic stone, but before they do, Sigrid sees a vision of herself riding Sleipnir, a legendary horse. She is determined to claim that fate, so she escapes with Mariam back to Helheim because the horse is in its queen's possession. Conveniently, the queen is her long-lost mother and accepts her with open arms. Sigrid doesn't suspect anything, even though it is very unequivocally stated a few times that “a dark look crossed her face” when Sigrid disagrees with taking over Vanahalla. Wonder what that could be 🤔.

—Elina obviously wanted her to use the army to seize Vanaheim’s throne. Mariam wanted her not to raise it at all. Sigrid only wanted everyone to see it for long enough to decide she was worthy of becoming a Valkyrie.—

So, literally raise an army of the dead just to prove a point? OK.

—“Trust me, Sigrid.” Trust me. Like she hadn’t permanently lost Sigrid’s trust sixteen years ago.—

Yet, here she is. Elina, her mother, tells her she doesn't look like a strong leader, insert the 'girl cuts her hair to be more badass and smears mud on her face' trope.

—Insulting word choice aside, what did the man mean, to claim Vanahalla? What did he think they were going to do?—
—Maybe she’d misunderstood.—

Or, perhaps she's just stupid to not notice the obvious.

—Elina hadn’t denied it. She’d lied this whole time. Who would've thought.—

—“If you want to succeed, you need to put yourself first.” —

Just like she had up until now.

—How could Elina have done this? She claimed to care about Sigrid while sending her friends off to die. She’d promised Sigrid an army as a means to become a Valkyrie, but these warriors were clearly not ready to serve her. —

See? Only to reach her dream of becoming a Valkyrie. Elina turns out to be a power hungry bitch who doesn't give a damn about her. At least she gains a little self awareness when she realizes what's happening. They battle Elina for the eye of Hnitbjorg and Sleipnir, return to Vanaheim and Sigrid finally gets her recognition.

Gah, OK, I didn't hate it. I just felt incredibly stupid reading it. Can you notice where I started to get really annoyed?

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Thank you to NetGalley and Entangled: Teen for the chance to read this arc! Four out of five stars.

I’ve read Tiana Warner before and she has a certain niche: it’s hard to tell what time her books are set in, with modern language and seemingly-older ideas, technological abilities, and options. While the adjustment was still strange (“Golly” is a…. Weird word to read), I definitely found myself enjoying it as I turned my mind to fit the YA scope.

Though many of the twists were predictable, as a first book in a trilogy, it does an admirable job of leaving the future open and wanting more. I really did like the connection between the protag and her love interest, but even more: the girl and her horse.

if you ever identified as a horse girl, this book is for you. if you ever identified as liking horses, this book is for your teen self!

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I absolutely loved this book but I genuinely think it's largely because I'm such a horse girl. I can imagine the world built around horses could be a turn-off for some considering how obsessive the MC is, but I adored it! Shoutout to the editor who changed the title, an absolute cash catch.

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I received an eARC of this book from the publisher and author in return for an honest review.

I really enjoyed this book!

There were a few slow moments that I had to preserve through but it is definitely worth continuing reading.

The opening is amazing and hooked me immediately. And that last 20% was just an insane ride that had me gripped! I flew through that last 20%!

Sigrid is such a wonderfully developed character and her character arc is amazing to read.

I will admit that whilst this is a sapphic book and I did love the ending for these two, I will say that the romance seemed forced for most of the book. During the last third of the book it flowed more naturally and I loved how it was written. But early on it was clear the author was trying to set up a romance between two people who barely knew each other. It’s when they knew each other better it flowed more naturally and I could route for them as a couple.

I loved this book (particularly the ending and character development) and will definitely be watching out for any future books by the author.

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Norse mythology inspired
Enemies to lovers
Animal companions
Forced proximity
Family drama
Sapphic #OwnVoices romance

Sigrid wants nothing more than to be a valkyrie, yet as a stable hand without a winged mare, it can only be a dream. However, during an attack, Sigrid touches the Eye, which shows her a vision — her riding Sleipnir and leading a valkyrie charge — launching her on a journey to claim her destiny no matter the cost.

I enjoyed this YA re-imagination of Norse mythological characters and world into a unique story. Creative liberties with the Norse world and myths reminded me of books published under Rick Riordan Presents umbrella.

Sigrid’s desire for recognition and belonging are relatable. She’s flawed, but driven, and you can’t help but root for her to get what she wants. The development in friendships between Sigrid, Mariam, and Fin was fun to watch, especially since they all come from different backgrounds and need to learn to work together.

The writing in sections irked me and I had to suspend my disbelief a bit (ie. some of the magical aspects seemed a bit out of historical context), but overall I kept coming back to the story to find out what was going to happen next.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley and Entangled Publishing. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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I received a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review
This was not what I was expecting at all. I just couldn't seem to get into it at all. I might try again at a later date but as of right now it did not make my list of good reads

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2.5/5 stars as YA, 4/5 stars as middle grade

Tiana Warner has done an excellent job of writing a unique story within the confines of Norse mythology.

My main problem with this book is that I feel like it’s marketed at the wrong audience. The writing style in this book is very simple. To put it in perspective, I’d say it’s significantly more simple than Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief and feels more like a book you’d read while you’re still learning to read. For the writing style alone, I’d firmly place this book in young middle grade – nowhere near close to YA, which is the current marketing. The Valkyrie’s Daughter really feels like a shoe-in for middle-grade, and I worry that this book got bumped up to YA because it contains a queer romance. Middle schoolers deserve to read about queer couples!

While the plot was interesting and held my attention throughout, it was extremely predictable. Again, not something that I’d have a huge problem with were it marketed as middle grade, but something that definitely bothered me when reading it from the perspective of YA.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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I was very excited to read this book after I read the synopsis and saw the cover. This would be a book that I would see in a store and buy simply for the pretty cover and intriguing synopsis. The storyline is great and the concept behind the book leads you into a story that starts great and somehow declines, picks up again, then declines again. It seemed to be a rollercoaster of events that were just put together in some semblance of order and at times felt slightly disjointed. The characters are somewhat relatable but not fully developed. The world building could have been a bit more detailed. I did feel that the ending was left open to either a sequel, trilogy, or series. I would read a second or third to simply follow along to see how far it could go.

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Thanks to Entangled Teen and the author for this NetGalley eARC in exchange for an honest review.

This started off really strong and I loved the depiction of the Norse worlds. The main character, Sigrid, is likeable and I always have a soft spot for any F/F book. However, I just found that as it went on, the stakes were never high enough - I never felt truly scared for the characters or needing to know what happened next. Three stars for me is still a good rating, and that’s because there were lots of things I liked about this, but I think I’ve learned for myself that I need to stay away from YA. If you love YA fantasy and YA queer stories I would 100% recommend this!

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Thank you to the publishers, author and NetGalley for the free copy of this book.

This was pretty good! Sometimes the pacing felt off and a little rushed, but I liked the characters and the mythology. I would recommend giving this a try!

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