The Goddess of Nothing at All (Unwritten Runes #1) by Cat Rector - SPFBO Book Review

Write on: Thu, 01 Sep 2022 by  in SPFBO 8 Read 493

The Goddess of Nothing at All is told from the perspective of Sigyn, a goddess from Norse mythology who is a wife of Loki and a lesser known figure among those histories. In the vein of Madeline Miller or Pat Barker, Cat Rector tells the story of Sigyn and her relationship with Loki from the female perspective and tries to demonstrate that written history is not always accurate.

Both Loki and Sigyn have their tales retold at the head of each chapter with small snippets from ‘historical records’ that leaves them much maligned. The implication being that Odin has influenced these records to shine himself in golden light and cast Sigyn and Loki as villains.

This is a common theme throughout the book as we follow Sigyn through her years from meeting Loki through to Ragnarok. It reads like a tragedy (in the Greek or Shakespearean sense) and if you have ever had a passing interest in Loki or Norse mythology in general you will know what must inevitably happen. As much as I had hoped this retelling would remake the ending into something less dire, it sticks to its fate much as its characters must adhere to theirs. There is a lot of internal debate within The Goddess… around fate, determinism and prophecy; no matter how these characters try to change their fates, they end up there regardless.

While that is an interesting philosophical problem it also meant that I knew what was going to happen and there were no surprises because of that. Knowing the reveals before they arrive does knock my intrigue levels a touch as did the cyclical nature of Loki’s behaviour. Loki does something rash and gets in trouble, Sigyn heals him up afterwards, the other gods ostracise them a little more each time. This repeats until the whole family are outcasts and still Loki continues to do impulsive things that cause Sigyn and his family to suffer, which added to the predictability level. This is a story that focuses on journey rather than destination and offers a close character study of Sigyn and Loki.

There is obviously a hefty romance element to The Goddess… as we see Sigyn and Loki falling in love and building their life together. It is also quite dark because of the suffering they and their children go through at the hands of other gods (and, at times, each other). It fits well as a ‘Dark Romantasy’. Theirs is a relationship punctuated by brutality and persecution so expect a heavy helping of violence, death and deep sadness. 

Expertly written, Cat Rector makes you feel and empathise with Sigyn and Loki despite his portrayal through history as a troublemaker and antagonist. You really want things to turn out differently for these two, regardless of fate. If you enjoy fantasy retellings of old myth and lore, character study, or tragic romance, The Goddess of Nothing at All will be right up your street.