This cover is gorgeous, and my Kindle just didn't do it justice, so no cat pics today.
I read the Norse Queen by Johanna Whittenberg as the first book on my new e-reader, my first Kindle. (I've been a Barnes and Noble Nook girl for the last ten years, but my last Nook died and they don't make them anymore. Alas.) It's the first in an ongoing indie series set in the 800's in, you guessed it, Viking-held areas in what is now Scandinavia. This book's protagonist is Åsa (Oh-sah), a teenage princess of a small island. However, when a proposal goes awry, the jilted would-be fiancé (and enemy of her family's past) slaughters Åsa's family and takes her hostage. She must find a way through her grief, fear, and how to be a queen to her aggressors, while still trying to protect the conquered people who were once her father's subjects.
I enjoyed a lot about this book. The author clearly did a lot of research, as the world was full of detail and felt authentic. I didn't fact check anything, but I also never felt the urge to, which is very telling from me. Åsa was a strong female character, despite her very male-dominated circumstances. I appreciated that she never forgot about her subjects and found small but meaningful ways to rebel. Olaf, the love interest, was interesting for his flaws and growth, though I felt like he didn't grow enough and did some unforgivable things (Åsa would agree with me). There's also an element of magic to the story, but not enough that you're left thinking about how if magic was real so much of history would be different.
I couldn't read the map on my Kindle (which is a fault of the Kindle, not the author) so despite the descriptions, I had trouble picturing where locations were in relation to each other. One other little downside is that Åsa has a touch of "not like other girls" syndrome, but this may have been required due to the real historical setting, so I'll forgive it more easily than I would a secondary world fantasy.
I recommend this book to fans of historical fiction and light fantasy (light like not much magic, not as in uplifting). If you're tired of reading Viking stories where it's all about the men, you'll enjoy the badass Åsa. It's not for anyone triggered by/not in the mood to read about general violence, sexual violence/rape, kidnapping, or traumatic births.
Have you read The Norse Queen? Let's discuss in the comments!
Transparency note: I am in a writing group with the author of this book. I also beta read book 4 of the series before I read book 1. I paid for the book myself and have not been compensated for my review.