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The Strange Maid: Book 2 of United States of…

The Strange Maid: Book 2 of United States of Asgard

by Tessa Gratton

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Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: A Valkyrie, a mysterious man with an unholy sword, and berserker who serves a different a god are out to claim her destiny.

Opening Sentence: “I was born under a frenzied star, so our poets would say.”

The Review:

Signy Valborn was given a riddle to solve by Odin when he made her a Valkyrie, and Ned Unferth shows up years later to help her. Signy has been training to be a Valkyrie since she was seven. She ran from the Valkyrie council in order to bring glory to the Valkyries and solve her riddle. Along the way she meets Ned the spiritless who is also a poet. Half of the book takes place before book 1, The Lost Sun, and the other half of the book takes place during and after. Ned teaches Signy how to hunt and fight trolls.

In one massive troll attack Signy believes that Ned is killed and she realizes her quest is tied directly to the mother Troll. Signy ends up meeting the berserker group and Soren in quest to hunt the trolls. Soren and Signy become close friends while trying to figure out her dreams, and her destiny.

I am not going to go into too much more because of spoilers. However, I will say this book is packed with action, another weird love story and tons on Norse mythology. Signy is an interesting main character she is often rash, for example in the troll attack in the first book, you find out in this book she is the woman who charged into the group of trolls with nothing but a sword. I say weird love story because it’s like Astrid and Soren in the first book where they just kind of fall in love. Initially I thought this might be a standalone, I didn’t understand how she tied it in with the first book, but once you get about halfway through the book that becomes clearer. Signy and Soren are tied together because of the mother troll and Signy’s destiny. The gods work in mysterious ways.

I loved this book, although I admit I struggled in the beginning, she really wasn’t mentioned in the first book so I had no clue who she was and what she had to do with the story as whole. But despite that struggle, I really loved the whole Norse culture in the modern world. It’s so interesting and Tessa really incorporates some wonderful aspects of Norse culture and poetry in the book. I have to admit that I am total sucker for the Valkyries, Berserkers and Beowulf. You really can’t ask for more in a book, than that!

Notable Scene:

“Again and again it appears against the starry sky, weaving in and out of itself like a message for the entire world.”

“Death Chooser, Strange Maid, the binding rune scare says.”

“The Valkyrie of the tree will prove herself with a stone heart.”

“But a Valkyrie does not balk at death.”

“I make myself a mirror to understand the beast.”

FTC Advisory: Random House Books for Young Readers provided me with a copy of The Strange Maid. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. ( )
  DarkFaerieTales | Sep 6, 2015 |
Signy Valborn has fire in her veins. Anger over a devastating childhood incident led her to climb the New World Tree where she met and was claimed by the Alfather, Odin, for his own.

But being a Valkyrie in training is not what she expected. The current Valkyries are tame compared to their history. They are the consultants to kings and presidents, and Signy longs for, burns for, the old ways.

The final insult comes when she wakes to find a riddle on the day she is supposed to become a fully realized Valkyrie. It's a question she must answer. One she cannot find a solution to. It keeps her from rising to the full position of Alfather's fierce servant, and it sets her on a dark, dark journey to find herself.

Dark, dark, dark. If you have read THE LOST SUN you will likely not be prepared for THE STRANGE MAID. This is a story about fate and death and longing. Its a story that explores 'the glory' of revenge and unlike the previous book, there is more truth to the world-building here. These people seem closer to what I would expect from those descended from Vikings, from those who live and worship the old gods. There are fewer Christian sensibilities in this book. We get new insight into the Berserker battle lust, and we get animal sacrifices.

I love this book because it's more adult (and possibly not YA any longer), and because there's less dancing around the violence.

I love this book because there's poetry in the writing. The use of words isn't frothy and light, but dense and evocative. And Tessa Gratton is afraid to let her characters take sex casually or lose themselves to what we might consider madness.

--review copy ( )
  PamFamilyLibrary | Mar 29, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 030797751X, Hardcover)

Fans of Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, and Maggie Stiefvater will embrace the richly drawn, Norse-influenced alternate world of the United States of Asgard, where cell phones, rock bands, and evangelical preachers coexist with dragon slaying, rune casting, and sword training in schools. Where the president runs the country alongside a council of Valkyries, gods walk the red carpet with Hollywood starlets, and the U.S. military has a special battalion dedicated to eradicating Rocky Mountain trolls.

Signy Valborn was seven years old when she climbed the New World Tree and met Odin Alfather, who declared that if she could solve a single riddle, he would make her one of his Valkyrie. For ten years Signy has trained in the arts of war, politics, and leadership, never dreaming that a Greater Mountain Troll might hold the answer to the riddle, but that’s exactly what Ned the Spiritless promises her. A mysterious troll hunter who talks in riddles and ancient poetry, Ned is a hard man to trust. Unfortunately, Signy is running out of time. Accompanied by an outcast berserker named Soren Bearstar, she and Ned take off across the ice sheets of Canadia to hunt the mother of trolls and claim Signy’s destiny.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:59:44 -0400)

"In order to be come one of Odin Alfather's Valkyrie, Signy Valborn must solve a riddle. With the help of Ned the Spiritless and Soren Bearstar, Signy embarks on a journey in search of her destiny"--

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