author: Genevieve Gornichec
published: 25 July 2023
genre(s): fantasy, historical, reimagining
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The lives of two women—one desperate only to save her missing sister, the other a witch destined to become queen of Norway—intertwine in this spellbinding, powerful novel of Viking Age history and myth from the acclaimed author of The Witch’s Heart.
Oddny and Gunnhild meet as children in tenth century Norway, and they could not be more different: Oddny hopes for a quiet life, while Gunnhild burns for power and longs to escape her cruel mother. But after a visiting wisewoman makes an ominous prophecy that involves Oddny, her sister Signy, and Gunnhild, the three girls take a blood oath to help one another always.
When Oddny’s farm is destroyed and Signy is kidnapped by Viking raiders, Oddny is set adrift from the life she imagined—but she's determined to save her sister no matter the cost, even as she finds herself irresistibly drawn to one of the raiders who participated in the attack. And in the far north, Gunnhild, who fled her home years ago to learn the ways of a witch, is surprised to find her destiny seems to be linked with that of the formidable King Eirik, heir apparent to the ruler of all Norway.
But the bonds—both enchanted and emotional—that hold the two women together are strong, and when they find their way back to each other, these bonds will be tested in ways they never could have foreseen in this deeply moving novel of magic, history, and sworn sisterhood.
- my review
- a few notes
The Weaver and the Witch Queen is not a retelling of Viking folklore but a reimagining. The prophecy of a wisewoman bound the fates of Gunnhild, Signy, and Oddny together by fate, but they are torn asunder as their lives take unexpected turns.
This is not a romance novel, although there are some romantic subplots. But at its heart, the book is about the power of women in a world and time that often subjugated women. Perhaps historically, Viking women had more freedom than those of other cultures, but there were limits. Women were still viewed as inferior to men, which made the agency of these women very engaging. In truth, it’s a story about honor, love of family/friends, and war. It is incredibly well written and utterly engrossing.
There was much to love about this book. The three girls-turned-women are very different… in how they see the world, in what they want for themselves, in how they live their lives. But they are each strong in their own individual way, fiercely loyal to each other and to the ones they love. No sacrifice is too great if it helps those they care for.
I also enjoyed the magic in the Norse setting of the book. The place that wisewomen had in the world was fascinating, as were the folk aspects of the magic system. It felt very much in keeping with the time and place of the story.
I had only two issues with the book, and they were both fairly minor. One, some of the dialogue felt a little too modern to be believable. There were moments when it took me out of the story just a little. And two, I wish there had been an epilogue. I would have liked just a little on Gunnhild’s future. There were hints as to what her future had in store for her, but I would have liked to see a little of that for myself!
content warning: ❗mentions of death, violence, gore❗
POV: 3rd person
keywords/phrases: Vikings, magic, family, battle, witches
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