BINGO – MYTHIC
Angrboda is a thrice burned witch, and a thrice survived witch at that. She once was a seer for the gods, but she was ultimately burned for refusing to tell Odin, king of the gods, of knowledge beyond what anyone should know. After burning thrice and surviving, she escapes to the woods but leaves her heart on the pyre. She finds a cave and makes a home for herself. She strikes up a friendship and trading partnership with a giantess name Skadi who takes Angrboda’s potions and salves to trade for household necessities. Angrboda also catches the eye of the trickster god Loki who fathers three children with her: Hel the half dead child, Fenrir the giant wolf, and Jormungand the massive sea snake that encircles the world. All Angrboda wants to do is to live her live with her children, trade with her friend Skadi, and be content with what she has made for herself and her family, but the gods have other plans.
There are gods and witches and magic in this book. There are giants and talking animals. This is a fantasy novel, clearly. But the fantasy feels secondary to the plot. At its core, The Witch’s Heart is a story of womanhood and determination. Angrboda never gives up despite what life and gods throw at her. She is determined to protect her children at any cost using her wit and magic. Skadi is a fiercely loyal friend from start to end whose temper is used to protect those she loves. Hel is a woman who, from birth, has had two feet, quite literally, on death’s door. She experiences a kidnapping, isolation, illness, and depression, and still she chooses love when it is shown to her. These women in The Witch’s Heart are the highlight of this book. Gornichec does a phenomenal job of writing them without falling into any cliches of Mary Sues, fridging, Manic Pixies, or anything. They have highs and lows, successes and failures, fears and aspirations.
I have only two complaints regarding The Witch’s Heart. While Jayne Entwistle does a phenomenal job of narrating and voice acting, she’s English. The accent of all these Nordic characters is an English one. This is me just being nitpicky and something I can easily get over, but it stood out in the beginning. The other complaint, one that is a little more substantive, is that the second act drags a little. There is just a lot of walking around and internal rumination from Angrboda. Necessary for the third act to land, but a little dull.
But what a landing the ending is! Setting my phone down and taking out my headphones, I could only let out a deep exhale. A deep exhale of everything coming together in the most beautiful of ways.