I occasionally step outside my comfort zone of fantasy and science books for young readers, and peek at the grown-up section of my local bookstore. Mist, by Susan Krinard (Tor, 2013) caught my eye--Norse mythology coming to life in San Fransisco! Brave Valkyrie (Mist), stuck in Midgard for centuries after the first Ragnarok fizzled out under strange circumstances, finds herself desperately trying the world from being destroyed in a second Ragnarok masterminded by Loki! So when Tor offered me a review copy, I said, yes please.
There are urban fantasy type adventures, and some cool magic, and Mist
is a fine heroine of the headstrong, determined, and somewhat over her
head type. There are fights with Jotuns (ice giants), allies beginning to be drawn to Mist, Mist learning to use her innate magic, Loki magically and sexually conning people right and left, and Dainn being tormented by secrets and darkness (he is tormented by these lots).
Though quite a bit Happens, the book as a whole is somewhat slowed by explication and
repetition--perhaps the explanatory elements are necessary for those not
familiar with Norse mythology, but I do feel that I got the point of
particular plot and character threads sooner than the author thought I
had, and didn't need to keep revisiting them. This was particular true with the romantic sub-plot.
Mist and Dainn start being drawn to each other quite soon after meeting, and it is made very clear to the reader that they keep on being drawn to each other repeatedly and reluctantly throughout the book, in such a way as to make me wonder at times if I was, in fact, reading a romance with mythological elements rather than a fantasy with romantic elements.
"[Mist] averted her gaze from the swallowing darkness of his gaze, focusing on the next thing she saw. Unfortunately, that was still Dainn, his long, elegant hand resting palm-up on his knee. It was the kind of hand that could bring pleasure with the lightest touch of a fingertip." (page 218)
I tend to like my fictional romances a tad more subtle, so this aspect of the book didn't work well for me. And Dainn's point of view sections, which were all about his secrets and darknesses, slowed the book down, and took too much time away from the more energy filled story of Mist discovering her powers and her new (unwelcome) role as head of the Opposition to Loki.
In short, what I enjoyed most were those parts of the book that focused on Mist and her nascent army of teenagers with strange gifts (only two of them thus far, but they were interesting characters), two heavy drinking sons of Odin, and, best of all but right at the end, a sister Valkyrie who arrives at the head of a motorcycle gang.
Not quite a book for me, but those who enjoy romance mixed with mythological fantasy might well like it very much indeed. As for me, I had already this year read a book about a Valkyrie named Mist - Norse Code, by Greg Eekhout (2009), which was much more to my personal taste (here's my review).