Valkyrie Rising by Ingrid Paulson mixes mythology into modern life to create an exciting story in which the Elsa learns not only of her heritage but comes into her own being.
Elsa is sent off to Norway to spend the summer with her grandmother. During the first couple of weeks she is alone and she becomes friends with a local boy named Kjell, who instantly takes a liking to her; unfortunately, his friends don't seem as keen on her, especially since she is the granddaughter of Hilda. Of course, the disappearances of many young men recently, does not help her any. She is accused of being a witch and a valkyrie. While Elsa does not recognize this name, she knows there must be something to accusations.
Eventually, Elsa discovers that she herself is a Valkyrie. With the help of her grandmother and a number of other characters, Elsa must overcome her fear and dependency. She must claim her birthright as a Valkyrie in order to save Norway and even the world from total destruction by a crazed god, Odin.
I have mixed feelings about this novel. I almost put the book down multiple times because the narration had a lot of telling, rather than showing. For example, during the first half of the book, the reader is often told of how controlling her older brother is; however, there are no recollections of specific examples and it is not until about half-way through the novel that any events happen that show these particular features in her brother. Her relationship with many of the characters are often related in this same manner.
Throughout the first half of the book little hints are dropped about what will eventually materialize, but the first half of the novel focuses on her relationships. After that the self-discovery portion of the novel takes off at lightning speed.
I liked the way Paulson took Norse mythology and twisted it to fit her novel. Her characterization of Loki was especially amusing, as he was portrayed as the classic trickster with additional attitude. The use of Runes and Rune poems for protection and battle was well done. The portrayal of the community within the Valkyrie ranks was interesting. I especially appreciated how the British and Celtic folkore was worked in near the end. The various powers that Elsa gains as the story goes along are described in unique ways.
While this wasn't a particularly great read, I think it contains a strong message that many young adults can relate to their own life.
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