The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec – Review

Published: February 9, 2021

Publisher: Ace Books

Series: Standalone

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 368 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

When a banished witch falls in love with the legendary trickster Loki, she risks the wrath of the gods in this moving, subversive 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.


I was totally unable to resist a book where Loki falls in love with a powerful witch named Angrboda. Loki is a mythological figure that just about everyone is familiar with – the trickster god, shapechanger, and mischief maker. Angrboda on the other hand, is mentioned only once in mythology (the Prose Edda) where she is described as the mate of Loki and mother of monsters. 

This particular re-telling or interpretation begins when Angrboda goes by another, older name and falls afoul of Odin because she refuses to teach him any more of her magic. She is burned at the stake three times and her heart is torn from her chest. Because she is an ancient and magical being, she survives this horror and flees to a dead wood. Loki returns her heart to her and she places it back inside her own chest. Thus begins the unusual love story of Angrboda and Loki. While she recovers in her cave, Angrboda befriends the huntress Skadi and they remain close and each a source of comfort for the other. Angrboda bears three children over the course of many years – Hel who is half dead, Fenrir the wolf, and Jormungand the world serpent. They are part of a prophecy that brings about Ragnarok.

Honestly, the book doesn’t focus a great deal on the prophesied Ragnarok until quite late in the book. Up until that point, it’s just Angroboda living her quiet life, waiting on Loki to show up to visit, and each time he leaves another child is on the way. Skadi doesn’t know who this mystery man is for many years, though she holds quite the grudge against both mystery man and Loki. Loki is my least favorite character in the book and it’s not entirely because he’s an absent father figure and not great husband material. He just doesn’t feel quite right in the context of the story even though he is the trickster. Loki just doesn’t seem to mesh with the style and tone of the book (in some instances worse than others) – it almost feels like forced comic relief that utterly fails at being humorous. 

Overall, I found this to be a pretty good story that had surprisingly emotional moments. I actually teared up a bit at one point! The love of a mother is well illustrated even if certain other elements fell a bit flat. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how much I loved the deep lore and mythology of the book as well. I am entirely a sucker for Norse or Viking inspired fantasy books and it was great to get one where the main character isn’t one of the well known gods or goddesses.

Currently Reading: 1/18/21

The Frozen Crown by Greta Kelly
I didn’t manage to snag an early copy of this so I picked up the audiobook after release. The reviews are pretty promising and though I’m only a few chapters in, I like it! Magic, political maneuvering, and a young queen fighting to save her people. 

The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec
I think I’ll give this a try this week. I’m genuinely looking forward to this, but I may decide to pick up something lighter and more contemporary. This is the story of the witch Angrboda, her family, and the lengths she will go to protect them.

Stacking the Shelves: 12/12/20

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly (or in my case monthly) meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and it’s all about sharing the books you’ve added to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. You can include books you buy in a physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts, and of course ebooks!


Received for Review: 

The Two-Faced Queen by Nick Martell
This is the promising sequel to Kingdom of Liars. I didn’t expect to enjoy it quite as much as I did and the sequel sounds like it could be even better. Thanks to Saga Press for the eARC.

The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec
AHH! This sounds sooo good! It’s the story of a witch that falls in love with Loki – how cool is that! Thanks to Ace Books for the eARC.

The Lost Village by Camilla Sten
A documentary creator sets off to an old mining town with a haunted past and people start to go missing. I’m really starting to enjoy these spooky, unsettling books! The early ratings are all over the place, but I think it sounds fun. Thanks to Minotaur Books for the eARC.

The Black Coast by Mike Brooks
I just featured this on Waiting on Wednesday a couple weeks ago and now I’ve been lucky enough to get an eARC from Solaris! I love the sound of this fantasy with war-dragons and prophecies that may end the world.

The Helm of Midnight by Marina Lostetter
This is another recent Waiting on Wednesday feature that I was VERY excited to get my hands on. I love a good fantasy-mystery hybrid! Thanks to Tor Books for the eARC.

My Purchases: 

 

My only physical bookish purchases in the last month were Rhythm of War and the Half Baked Harvest Cookbook. Such admirable restraint. I’d totally recommend either of these – RoW for the amazing story and beautiful interior art work and Half Baked Harvest for the lovely recipes that actually have pictures for all of them!!

My audiobook purchases in the last month have all been awesome choices too! I picked up Rhythm of War in audio so I could switch between that and the hardcopy because it’s 1200 pages long. Infernal and Magpie Murders were both awesome reads too – fantastic narration.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme originally hosted on Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore. This is a great way to share upcoming released you’re excited about!


Cover- The Witch's Heart

I am here for the witch meets Loki love story. I just love the idea of it and it just sounds absolutely marvelous. From the synopsis, The Witch’s Heart seems like it will span a long period of time and there will be children, danger, and ultimately it sounds like the main character Angrboda must make some difficult choices. I dearly hope this is as good as it sounds! This will be released February 2021 – just in time for Valentine’s day!