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The Witch's Heart
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The Witch's Heart
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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....
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....
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Description-

  • 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.
     
 

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  • From the book

    Long ago, when the gods were young and Asgard was new, there came a witch from the edge of the worlds. She knew many ancient spells, but she was especially skilled with seid, a magic that allowed one to travel out of body and divine the future. This greatly appealed to Odin, the highest of the Aesir; when he learned of her abilities, he offered to impart upon the witch his knowledge of the runes in exchange for teaching him seid.

     

    She was uncertain at first. She'd heard enough about Odin to make her hesitate. But she knew he did not share his secrets lightly, which meant her knowledge of seid must be of great value to him indeed. So she swallowed her suspicions about this grim one-eyed god and accepted his offer.

     

    As they practiced seid together, the witch found herself drawn farther down than she'd ever traveled before, where she brushed against a place darker than the beginning of time itself. This place frightened her, and the secrets contained there were great and terrible, so she did not dare go deeper-much to Odin's displeasure, for the knowledge he sought above all else was hidden there, and it seemed to him that only she could reach it.

     

    The witch was also teaching her magic to the Aesir's rivals, the Vanir, a sister race of gods whose home she had passed through on her way to Asgard. The Vanir could think of naught but gold with which to reward the witch for her services, though she cared little enough for it.

     

    But when Odin realized she was traveling between Asgard and Vanaheim, he saw an opportunity. He turned the Aesir against the witch and called her Gullveig, "gold-lust." They drove spears through her and burned her three times, and three times she was reborn-for she was very old, very hard to kill, and far more than she appeared. Each time she burned, Odin tried to force her down to the dark place to learn what he wanted to know, and each time she resisted. And when the Vanir heard of the Aesir's treatment of her, they became furious, and thus was the first war in the cosmos declared.

     

    The third time she was reborn, Gullveig fled, though she left something behind: her speared heart, still smoking on the pyre.

     

    That was where he found it.

     

    Some time later, he tracked her to the deepest, darkest forest at the farthest edge of Jotunheim: the land of the giants, the Aesir's bitter enemies. This forest was called Ironwood, where the gnarled gray trees were so thick that there was no real path through them, and so tall that they blocked out the sun.

     

    He did not have to venture into those woods, though, for by the bank of the river that divided Ironwood from the rest of Jotunheim he found the witch, staring across the water at the dense forest and mountains beyond. She sat upon a rough woolen blanket with a thick cloak about her shoulders and a hood pulled over her head. The sun was shining, but she sat in the shade, hands folded in her lap, leaning against a tree trunk.

     

    He watched her for a time, shifting from foot to foot, scratching his nose, listening to the quaint gurgling of the river and the whistling of songbirds. Then he sauntered up to her, his hands clasped behind his back. He could see only the bottom half of her face, but her skin looked pink-tender, healing, new. When he got closer, he noticed the skin of her hands was the same. She seemed to be resting peacefully. Part of him didn't want to disturb her.

     

    Then again, he'd always found the idea of peace to be quite boring.

     

    "How long are you going to stand there?" she rasped. She sounded like she hadn't had...

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from October 19, 2020
    Gornichec reimagines Norse mythology in this heartfelt debut about the power of a mother’s love. The witch Angrboda is no stranger to burnings at the stake, having survived three of them. Wounded and defenseless following her third burning, Angrboda flees Asgard, leaving behind her speared heart. She finds refuge in a secluded forest at the edge of the world, content to live a solitary life in a cave. But her isolation is interrupted when she’s discovered by Loki, the trickster god, who returns her missing heart. Despite their constant bickering and Loki’s hijinks, the pair fall in love and have three children together. But Angrboda’s disturbing visions of Ragnarok, or the apocalypse, and the role her children will play in the fall of the gods threaten her family’s peaceful life, and Angrboda must choose between accepting fate or working to change her children’s future. Gornichec’s spellbinding story breathes life into a minor character from Norse myth, delving into the complexities of Angrboda’s familial relationships and the lengths to which she’ll go for both love and vengeance. This powerful fantasy is sure to win Gornichec many fans. Agent: Rhea Lyons, HG Literary.

  • Booklist

    December 15, 2020
    "Long ago, when the gods were young and Asgard was new, there came a witch from the edge of the worlds." Thus begins Gornichec's debut, a feminist reimagining of the Norse myths surrounding Ragnar�k. Angrboda, a sorceress with the gift of foresight, is incredibly old and hard to kill, but barely survives Odin's wrath at her refusal to share any knowledge of the future. She is befriended by Loki who returns her speared heart, left behind on a smoking pyre during her getaway. She is further aided by the giantess Skadi, a hunter who makes a deal to trade Angrboda's magical potions for the provisions she will need to survive alone in the wilderness during the long winters. The love that develops between Angrboda and trickster-god Loki results in the birth of three unusual children whom the gods will see only as beasts and a threat, yet Loki and Skadi accept them for what they are. Melding together the wide range of Nordic legends, this is a story of tenderness and betrayal, friendship and loyalty, family and monsters, beginnings and endings. Offer this beautiful reimagining to fans of Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology (2017) and Joanne M. Harris' Loki novels.

    COPYRIGHT(2020) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    Starred review from January 1, 2021

    DEBUT At the beginning of the world, the Norse god Odin seeks to know how it will end. He finds a witch, Angrboda, who refuses to tell him and, as punishment, he burns her to death three times and takes her heart. Recovering, Angrboda manages to make a life for herself in the Ironwood, a place empty of all people. Loki, the trickster god, finds her and returns her heart to her. Eventually, Angrboda and Loki fall in love, marry, and have three children: Hel (who will become the mistress of hell), Fenrir (a great wolf), and Jormungund (a serpent). Angrboda knows through her visions that all three, and Loki too, will be present at Ragnarok, the Norse end of the world. She does her best to protect them until Loki's other wife discovers Ironwood too. VERDICT Angrboda's love for her children shines passionately through this tale. A retelling of the Norse legend from the viewpoint of a woman often left in the margins, this book deserves to be a classic. For readers of Madeline Miller's Circe and the Marvel version of Loki.--Jennifer Mills, Shorewood-Troy Lib., IL

    Copyright 2021 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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