Book Review: ‘The Strange Maid’ by Tessa Gratton

Posted: 24 June 2016 in Book reviews
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In the second book of The United States of Asgard, Signy Valborn is a Valkyrie-in-training. After the death of her parents at the age of seven, Signy is taken to the New World Tree. There she meets Odin who binds her as one of his Valkyrie, the Valkyrie of the Tree.

Less than a decade later, she abandons her sisters. Signy wished the Valkyrie to be as they were in olden days, that this was the wish of the Alfather, but the others didn’t agree. So two years ago at the age of 15, armed with her few possessions and a strange riddle, Signy left her sisters and ventured out on her own. So far, the riddle remains unanswered. Then she meets Ned Unferth who claims to know the answer to the riddle: a troll’s heart.

Together the two travel north into troll territory. In the beginning, they only find tracks. But when one stumbles upon them, Signy can’t kill it. Instead she names and tames it. Together the three continue to Vinland and Jellyfish Cove. There, Signy is reunited with family. All seems to go well, Signy is training to kill trolls, and all three are taking part in the local Viker Festival. But the unexpected happens: trolls attack. She confronts the troll mother and discovers who’s heart she must take. But she isn’t strong enough and everything she holds dear is taken from her.

But she isn’t alone for long. She stumbles upon Soren Bearstar (who saved Baldur in the first book) and together they hunt the troll mother with no luck. After the funeral for the troll attack, they finally hear word of her and begin following her south. Their trail leads them to Port Orleans where Baldur is holding a charity ball. Before she can find the troll mother, she must rescue Red Stripe from being sacrificed.

With Soren, the Mad Eagles, and Red Stripe in tow, they begin upturning clues to where the troll mother is hiding. As they prepare to end the destruction she has been causing, Signy learns a startling secret about the troll mother and an unexpected person reappears.

My Thoughts

Like the first book in this series, I got the book at a secondhand bookstore. And like the first book, I’m glad I did.

I found it interesting to base the second book in the series during the same time-frame as the first book. And then to see how the events from the first book tie in with the story from the second. I liked the energy from the book. It was a fast-paced, emotion driven story. It was very easy to get absorbed in the storytelling.

I liked Signy as the main character. She is so defiant. She is so strong. I love how she isn’t willing to compromise on what she feel is right. Instead, she leaves those behind who are trying to stop her or keep her from her destiny. She doesn’t just sit around talking about the things she wished were different. She actually takes action to bring them to reality. The sad thing is that she is driven by anger. Anger at the death of her parents, anger at all the people taken from her, anger at her sisters for their unwillingness to be more. But the great thing is that she learns and grows and becomes more than any of them could think. As for the rest of the characters, they are great in their individual rights. Ned is very mysterious and rightly so considering who he is (no spoilers I promise). I love the Mad Eagles. They seemed like such a family unit and are very loyal. Even the troll mother was fascinating in a way.

The writing was very good. And clean. There is a theme with most of the books I read and that is that they are clean. And this one (and the first one) is so. The writing is age appropriate. There is minimal language and no sexual dialogue. Language I can deal with within reason, but I like to read a good story without being bogged down by gratuitous and/or unnecessary sex scenes. So kudos there. The writing is very fluid and clear, the characters individual, and the dialogue felt natural. Once again, this book has been very well researched and is full of fascinating Norse mythology references.

This is definitely a series to read. This sequel was just as enjoyable and fun as the first one. I highly recommend this series. You can read my thoughts on the first book here. Otherwise, enjoy 😉

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