The Helheim Princess by Tiana Warner is a new tale in an old format, Norse Mythology. Sigrid has always known she was meant for better things. When everything goes wrong in her homeland, she gets a chance to prove it.
For as long as Sigrid could remember, she’s wanted to become a mighty, fearless valkyrie. But without a winged mare, she’s a mere stable hand, left wondering who her parents were and why she’s so different. So when the Eye shows her a vision where she’s leading a valkyrie charge on the legendary eight-legged horse Sleipnir, she grabs the possibility of this greater destiny with both hands, refusing to let go.Too bad that the only one who can help her get there is Mariam, an enemy valkyrie who begrudgingly agrees to lead her to Helheim but who certainly can’t be trusted―even if she does make Sigrid more than a little flustered. As they cross the nine worlds, battling night elves, riding sea serpents, and hurtling into the fire to learn the truth about Sigrid’s birthright, an unexpected but powerful bond forms.As her feelings for Mariam deepen into something fiery and undeniable, Fate has other plans for Sigrid. What happens when the one thing you think you were meant to do might end the nine worlds?
All quotes are from an advanced reader copy, and may or may not reflect the published edition.
“This is how you become more than just a valkyrie.”
The story of Sigrid and Mariam is an interesting one, pulling from various elements of Norse mythology. Personally, I’m not versed enough in this particular lore to state whether it was accurate or not, though. From what little I do know, the tale was intriguing and used elements that are well known to many due to popular media. This kept me from needing too much world-building. However, when we did get world-building, it felt like an afterthought. A bit choppy, and much more tell not show than I prefer. There are still many things about how this world works that I’m still unsure of, and questions that went unanswered.
“She shook her head, dismissing the secret wish that she was the one touching Mariam’s face and receiving that stunning smile.”
The book took a while to find its footing. This caused me to put it down and forget about it before actually finishing it quite a few times. Once it did get going, it was pretty fun and fast-paced. Getting there though, was choppy and painful. It required a level of patience that I generally don’t have for young adult fantasy. I wanted to enjoy this much more than I did, but it often felt like forcing myself through a book that I wasn’t enjoying. Sigrid and Mariam both read well, but there are moments where it’s hard to tell who is who. Their motives and inherent attitudes feel extremely similar. Regardless, they were likable characters. The way the adults around them treated them, and their reactions, stayed true to their core morals. This is always something I look for and appreciate in characters.
“They’d only been in each other’s lives for a couple of days, but cold dismay rippled over her body at the thought of saying goodbye.”
The slow-burn romance that Sigrid and Mariam have is incredibly sweet. I found myself rooting for them more than I expected to. Their friendship with their little sidekick was also fun to read. Despite the choppy prose and lackluster world-building, the character relationships here really created something great. Even the negative relationships were written in such a way that I felt attached to what our main character was experiencing. This is where Warner’s writing really shines, and I’d be interested to see another book with a higher focus on this.
“The pure part of me is gone. What’s left is imbalance. What’s left is the part of me that deserved to be denied entry to Helheim.”
All and all, this book was okay. I think I was expecting a bit too much from it. This led to a bit of disappointment. Again, I would be interested to see more from Warner, though. This has the groundwork for something really interesting. It also shows both her skill and potential, with regards to storytelling. This book just happened to be a bit too choppy for me.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.