Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Mythology, Lgbtqia
Rating: 3/5 stars
That was not the best way to start 2018.
I am familiar with Amanda Hocking's work, since her Trylle Trilogy and Kanin Chronicles hold a special place in my heart. That is why it saddens me to no end to admit that Between the Blade and the Heart was a big miss for me.
Between the Blade and the Heart is the first book of a duology based on norse mythology. The world is divided between Mortals and Immortals; Mortals have a short lifespan, but they can determine their own fate, whereas Ιmmortals live forever, but their path is set in stone, and fundamental choices about their nature do not belong to them. In order to maintain the balance, the gods created the Valkyries, mortals bestowed with supernatutal strength and abilities, assigned to murder immortals and return them to the Underworld. Malin is a Valkyrie in training, but when she discovers a horrible truth about her mother's past, she becomes a pawn to a conspiracy set into motion hundreds of years ago. In the end, it seems that her mother's choice will cause the end of free will, and humanity.
Perhaps I shouldn't read this one so soon after Norse Mythology. I was mesmerized by Neil Gaiman's storytelling, and the way he preserved an authentic, nostalgic vibe to his narration of nordic myths, and as a result Amanda Hocking's approach did not sit well with me. I was introduced to a world which at first seemed like a cheap imitation of the Mortal Instruments, only to later realize that humans and supernatural beings coexist (for example your car mechanic has horns and it's totally cool, even sexy if you're into those things), and then hovercrafts and flying motorcycles were thrown into the mix and my expectations were scattered to the wind. Amanda Hocking's universe did not lack imagination, but I wanted something more traditional, I guess, and the futuristic element took me by surprise.
To be fair, my not so enthusiastic reaction towards the world-building is something entirely subjective, and I would propably overlook it if that was my only issue. Sadly, the characters and the romance did not help either. The relationships were frustratingly superficial, they didn't evoke any emotions, and their backround was poorly established, they were friends or lovers because the author told you they were, not because she showed you the way their bonds ran deep and true. I didn't care about them at all, I was totally indifferent to their fates, they could live or die, hurt or smile and still I didn't give a damn. And it only gets worse.
Most of you must know by now that there's nothing I hate more than love triangles. So yeah, Between the Blade and the Heart had one of those, too.
There's your girl, Malin, who broke up with her girlfriend for reasons I can't quite comprehend but still pines over her and salivates at her glowing hair and her crooked smile, and then she meets this gorgeous guy who makes her feel safe and warm and gives her palpitations, and she has a thing for them both. And she acts on the thing she has for them both.
The world is literary burning but Malin can't control her hormones. She is overcome with lust at the most inappropriate times, and the heat fogs her brain and she can't make rational decisions. I haven't encountered the need to play savior so far, but I'd rather think that my mind would be on the demons I'm facing next day instead of kissing the one love interest and ten minutes later cuddling with the second. Or maybe it's just me, I don't know.
I skimmed the last chapters because after a while I gave up trying to feel something about these characters except from irritation and exasperation, but I still wanted to learn the conclusion of the story, and that's how I made it to the end. I may sound harsh and bitter, but believe me, my heart is full of sorrow because I know Amanda, I know she is capable of magic and great things, and it kills me to say that Between the Blade and the Heart was not one of her best works. It was still fast-paced and action-packed, and the ideas behind it full of potential, so if you're up for the task, please give it a try. But if you want to truly appreciate her storytelling abilities and swoonworthy romances, I'd say read the Kanin Chronicles instead.
*ARC generously provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*