Review: The Witch’s Heart

Hi and welcome to the reading world!

Today I’m sharing a review of a standalone fantasy novel, The Witch’s Heart.

Review: The Witch’s HeartThe Witch's Heart by Genevieve Gornichec
Published by Penguin on November 30, 2021
Genres: Fiction / Fantasy / Historical, Fiction / Magical Realism
Pages: 368

When a banished witch falls in love with the legendary trickster Loki, she risks the wrath of the gods in this moving, subversive national bestselling debut novel that reimagines Norse mythology.

Angrboda's story begins where most witches' tales end: with a burning. A punishment from Odin for refusing to provide him with knowledge of the future, the fire leaves Angrboda injured and powerless, and she flees into the farthest reaches of a remote forest. There she is found by a man who reveals himself to be Loki, and her initial distrust of him transforms into a deep and abiding love.

Their union produces three unusual children, each with a secret destiny, who Angrboda is keen to raise at the edge of the world, safely hidden from Odin's all-seeing eye. But as Angrboda slowly recovers her prophetic powers, she learns that her blissful life--and possibly all of existence--is in danger.

With help from the fierce huntress Skadi, with whom she shares a growing bond, Angrboda must choose whether she'll accept the fate that she's foreseen for her beloved family...or rise to remake their future. From the most ancient of tales this novel forges a story of love, loss, and hope for the modern age.

The Witch’s Heart follows the story of Angrboda, a witch with a mysterious past and her interactions with the Norse gods and especially Loki. Angrboda’s life is shaped by her unique identity and gifts, and her own connection and understanding of these is pivotal to her story. Loki is a character that definitely has the mischief and mirth, but the depth of Loki’s development unfolds across the pages.

Beyond Angrboda and Loki, this story features an incredible cast of characters. Many of the characters in this story are unique and layered. One of the aspects of Angrboda’s narration and the story itself involved understanding the other character’s motivations and perspectives. This story also has some LGBTQIA+ representation and romance in many of the characters.

In terms of pacing, the main overarching story of this one largely picks up the pace much more in the latter third. However, the first part of the book still has story development and excellent character development that is able to be built upon later. The mystery regarding Angrboda’s past creates atmosphere and tension. The sweet and kind moments that are interspersed throughout the novel are juxtaposed with this tension as Angrboda not only contends with her past, but the fears and uncertainties the future holds as well.

Overall, this story has a lyrical, atmospheric prose that drew me in. The conflict is slowly built up over time with moments of tension and mystery contrasted with sweet and warm moments that ended in a sweeping conclusion. Characters in this story were portrayed to be imperfect in many ways but were incredibly memorable. If you love stories about family, fantasy, and gods, this is definitely a standalone fantasy you may enjoy.

Have you read this one?

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