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Monday, July 14, 2014

Blog Tour Book Review: The Strange Maid (The United States of Asgard #2)

Release Date: June 10, 2014
Author: Tessa Gratton
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Length: 416 pages

Fans of Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, and Maggie Stiefvater will embrace the richly drawn, Norse-influenced alternate world of the United States of Asgard, where cell phones, rock bands, and evangelical preachers coexist with dragon slaying, rune casting, and sword training in schools. Where the president runs the country alongside a council of Valkyries, gods walk the red carpet with Hollywood starlets, and the U.S. military has a special battalion dedicated to eradicating Rocky Mountain trolls.

Signy Valborn was seven years old when she climbed the New World Tree and met Odin Alfather, who declared that if she could solve a single riddle, he would make her one of his Valkyrie. For ten years Signy has trained in the arts of war, politics, and leadership, never dreaming that a Greater Mountain Troll might hold the answer to the riddle, but that’s exactly what Ned the Spiritless promises her. A mysterious troll hunter who talks in riddles and ancient poetry, Ned is a hard man to trust. Unfortunately, Signy is running out of time. Accompanied by an outcast berserker named Soren Bearstar, she and Ned take off across the ice sheets of Canadia to hunt the mother of trolls and claim Signy’s destiny.

    

Review:

Protagonist: Signy Valborn is also known as the child Valkyrie. After the tragic death of her parents she wants vengeance and tries to take her anger out on the gods, climbing the New World Tree in the process of getting to them. On her way up the tree she meets Odin, king of the gods, and he offers her the title of Valkyrie of the Tree. However she doesn't quite meld very well with the other Valkyrie and  one day after receiving a riddle from presumably Odin himself she leaves her Valkyrie sisters behind to try and solve it, leaving the world to believe she ran away. I loved Signy's strength of character and stubbornness. She reminded me a lot of some other kick ass heroine's I've read about and definitely ranks high among them. Of course Signy isn't perfect, she can be too stubborn at times, a bit selfish, and even paradoxical as it is, full of self doubt. But she grows as a character throughout this book and learns to way her good traits against her bad.

Romance: I have to say that I was really impressed with this romance. As odd as it sounds though it was both a slow burning one as well as one that came on too quick. What I mean by this is that this book jumps forward in times a bit and so while Signy seems to be falling for Ned pretty quickly it's really been like half a year which is totally acceptable to me. Another thing, I was so scared after reading the synopsis on the flap of the book that seemed to imply that Signy and Soren, our hero from the first installment, were going to have a bit of romance together, however this wasn't the case, Soren and Signy do become good friends, but Soren's heart will always belong to Astrid/Idun.

World-Building: Much like the first installment of this series revolved around the legend of Baldur as well as the legend of Idun a bit, this installment revolves around the epic tale of Beowulf as well as the birth of a troll race a bit. As I've said many times before, I'm not particularly knowledgeable when it comes to Norse myths and since mythology has so many variations it was great to learn more about Norse legends and epics as I was reading this story. Also, since I read the first book in this series it was a lot easier to grasp the United States of Asgard concept, though I did have a few moments when modern things such as jeans came up and I had to remind myself that this story does take place in modern day.

Predictability: I have to say I was really surprised by the twists in this book. Sure there were a few times when I knew what was going to happen, purely because of how stories are told and how certain story formulas go. That being said when I was shocked it was because I seriously didn't see anything like what happened coming. Also, unlike the last installment there weren't any problems that I thought could have been solved differently or there were no plot holes that needed to be filled.

Ending: So the ending was interesting, in a good way I mean. After the final confrontation which was full of all sorts of amazing action scenes, things begin to die down as this book wraps up, but not before a certain trouble making goddess seems to stick her nose in where it doesn't belong. While this book doesn't quite end with a cliffhanger because as I was told by a Random House Publicist this series will have four companion novels that will tie altogether in one final installment, this book does leave a bit of an ominous haze on the future of our current protagonist leaving me excited to begin the next installment... that doesn't even have a name, cover, or release date yet...

Rating:


I LOVED this book. It had and expanded upon everything I loved about the first installment but was so much better, and the first installment was fantastic as well, so yeah. If you love mythology, or even more specifically Norse Mythology I would highly recommend this series.

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