Paranormal Young Adult
Available October 9th
Received from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Nothing ever happens in
Norway. But at least Ellie knows what to expect when she visits her
grandmother: a tranquil fishing village and long, slow summer days. And
maybe she’ll finally get out from under the shadow of her
way-too-perfect big brother, Graham, while she’s there.
Ellie doesn’t anticipate is Graham’s infuriating best friend, Tuck,
tagging along for the trip. Nor did she imagine boys going missing amid
rumors of impossible kidnappings. Least of all does she expect something
powerful and ancient to awaken in her and that strange whispers would
urge Ellie to claim her place among mythological warriors. Instead of
peace and quiet, there’s suddenly a lot for a girl from L.A. to handle
on a summer sojourn in Norway! And when Graham vanishes, it’s up to
Ellie—and the ever-sarcastic, if undeniably alluring Tuck—to uncover the
truth about all the disappearances and thwart the nefarious plan behind
Deadly legends, hidden identities, and tentative romance swirl together in one girl’s unexpectedly-epic coming of age.
Valkyrie Rising is a fun and fast-moving debut, introducing us to Norse mythology in the form of valkyries, a group of women equal parts powerful, seductive, and vicious. We are easily captivated by Ms. Paulson’s version of these women, their history neither as familiar to us nor as common in young adult fiction as the women of Greek myth, and so we rapidly flip the pages as Ellie learns about her heritage, taking us with her on a hugely entertaining ride. Accompanying the illumination of a lesser-known paranormal entity is an adorable, grin-inducing romance between Ellie and her brother’s best friend Tuck, the two elements combining to make us forget there is such a thing as a real world as we settle in to pull the laughter and love around us like a blanket of fictional comfort.
Ellie is amusing from the very first page, her feelings for Tuck blatantly obvious to us even as she tries desperately to squelch them before his keen eye picks up on her visual clues, earning herself a loyal friend in us as we immediately want nothing more than her happiness in what she knows to be an unlikely romance. She more than keeps up with Tuck’s sharp wit, lobbing his snarky retorts back at him when he goes in for the kill, and deftly blocking the force of his charm outwardly even as inwardly her stomach is a fluttering swarm of butterflies. As the story progresses and her valkyrie side is revealed, she backs up a strong mind with an extremely strong body, and though she often leaps into danger in full-on valiant protector mode without the skill to back up her honorable intentions, our affection for her never wavers and we just sit back and enjoy the antics, the sarcasm, and the steadfast loyalty.
Tuck is a joy as a young adult hero, a break from the brooding bad-boy and the strange-but-inhumanly-handsome new kid in school with his effervescent personality and potent charisma. He seems to possess an unending reservoir of smart jokes and playful jabs, but he can also be serious when he needs to be, ensuring that we never disregard the emotions he displays as part of a larger game, instead able to accept them for what they are – a different but equally important part of who he is. He’s never threatened by Ellie’s valkyrie strength, instead he delights in the fact that she can defend both herself and him, and he never misses the opportunity to remind her how attractive he finds her warrior side. He’s sweet without being sappy, witty without being irritatingly cocky or arrogant, and believably genuine without any extra drama or fanfare, making him someone we could easily read about over and over again.
Valkyrie Rising will no doubt force many a reader to forgo the plans they have for their day in favor of voraciously devouring Ellie’s story in one sitting, and while it may not contain epic battles or soul-searing romance, it simply doesn’t need to. It entertains on a variety of levels and has us immediately searching Ms. Paulson’s website for any information on what we can expect from her next.