Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Tuesday #Review - Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking #YALit #Fantasy

Series: Valkyrie # 1
Format: E-Book, 319 pages
Release Date: January 2, 2018
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy 

The first book in a brilliant new YA fantasy duology by New York Times bestselling author Amanda Hocking.

Valkyries have one great responsibility: to return immortals to the afterlife by slaying them. As a Valkyrie, Malin has always known that the balance of the world rests on her ability to carry out orders. But when Malin discovers that her mother spared the life of an immortal who was destined to die, her world is thrown into chaos.

Malin not only wrestles with the knowledge that her mother might not be who she thought—she’s also thrust into the path of a gorgeous blue eyed guy named Asher who needs her help slaying the rogue immortal who destroyed his family. The balance of the world is at stake. And, as Asher competes with Malin’s ex for her love and loyalty, so is her heart.

New York Times 
bestselling author Amanda Hocking begins a thrilling two-book duology set in a universe where immortal creatures roam and one girl is the world’s only hope.

Between the Blade and the Heart is the first installment in author Amanda Hocking's Valkyrie duology. This duology features 19-year old Malin Krigare as a Valkyrie in training under her mother Marlow's mentorship. A mentorship that is both dysfunctional and bizarre in nature. The story takes place in a alternative reality; in a city known as New Edgewater where mortals and immortals co-exist. Valkyries are the arm of the Gods as it were. 

Valkyries are tasked with the slaying of immortals and returning them to the underworld by order of the gods, and no one can or ever has gone against orders because the world would go out of balance if they did. But, after learning about a huge mistake done by her own mother which caused another Valkyrie's death by the son of said Valkyrie and creating an immortal creature known as a Draugr, Marlow put the world on the brink of destruction. Malin puts together a team of the willing to clean up Marlow's mess. 

Malin's team includes her ex-girlfriend Quinn Devane who is also a Valkyrie, Oona Warren who is Malin's best friend, roommate, and sorceress-in-training; and Asher Varja, son of a Valkyrie who tracks down Malin and Marlow demanding answers as to why his mother was murdered and why Marlow screwed up in sending an immortal to Kurnigia which is filled with angry demons and devils. Asher is also a potential love interest for Malin which means....::cough:: LOVE TRIANGLE ::cough:: Oh wait, I forgot about Marlin's other side dish. ::slaps head:: My bad! 

Now the bad news: While there were some good ideas behind the writing of this story, I think that Hocking spent way too much time on Malin's sex life, and I do mean sex life. It appeared as though everyone that she meets in this book, except perhaps her roommate and a mean girl from school, has had a relationship at one time or another with Malin. 

I am understandably curious as to why Hocking would feature a school called Ravenwood Academy when there was so much other stuff happening that needed immediate attention by Malin. Except for the fact that a secondary character starts explaining the idea behind free will and that everyone has a destiny that has already been planned out for them, it is just fodder to be tossed away. Ok, there is the other issue of Malin having to actually graduate in order to become an official Valkyrie.

I have a hard time understanding why a parent would tell their own child that love is not necessary; that Valkyries never fall in love since they have to focus on doing what the Gods tell them. This caused Malin nothing but issues, especially with Quinn who still carries a torch for her. Finally, let's really talk about Malin as a lead character. She's not smart, as others have indicated. She is barely surviving school! She is, above all else, stubborn. She dives head long into things without having a plan (as witnessed as she disobeys her mothers order). 

Malin's team rushes blindly against an enemy that is 10 steps ahead of her thanks to Malin not paying attention to details and her relationship issues with Asher and Quinn. The one constant in all this just happens to be Oona. She actually seems to be the one character to actually have her head screwed on tightly. Because of the cliffhanger ending, and the curious arrival of a major Vanir God who shalt remain nameless, I absolutely will be reading part two of this book From the Earth to the Shadows.

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