Minda’s drunk review of The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec
What I drank prior: Probably about half a bottle of my new favorite dessert wine—a chilled sweet red called La Vida Dulce from Noisy Water Winery & Cellars in New Mexico. I visited ABQ a few months ago and went to their tasting soon and fell in love.
When a banished witch falls in love with the legendary trickster Loki, she risks the wrath of the gods in this moving, subversive debut novel that reimagines Norse mythology.
Angrboda’s story begins where most witches’ tales end: with a burning. A punishment from Odin for refusing to provide him with knowledge of the future, the fire leaves Angrboda injured and powerless, and she flees into the farthest reaches of a remote forest. There she is found by a man who reveals himself to be Loki, and her initial distrust of him transforms into a deep and abiding love.
Their union produces three unusual children, each with a secret destiny, who Angrboda is keen to raise at the edge of the world, safely hidden from Odin’s all-seeing eye. But as Angrboda slowly recovers her prophetic powers, she learns that her blissful life—and possibly all of existence—is in danger.
With help from the fierce huntress Skadi, with whom she shares a growing bond, Angrboda must choose whether she’ll accept the fate that she’s foreseen for her beloved family…or rise to remake their future. From the most ancient of tales this novel forges a story of love, loss, and hope for the modern age.
My Summary: Thrice-burned by the Aesir gods, Angrboda (from here on out Boda) has stolen away in the remote woods of the Jotenheim to hid herself from her tormentor, Odin. As the Witch who taught Odin how to reach Yggdrasil (the tree that brings together the nine realms), Odin wants to use her powers to see beyond—something she is unwilling to do. To make matters worse, she doesn’t remember much about her past except for the burning. When Loki who we all know and probably love comes to return her heart, the two find a kinship in rejection. As Boda builds a life for herself, she is in constant fear of being found by Zeus, though she may find the strength in her exile.
Spoiler-free Thoughts: TBH this book was v weird but I was here for it. I DID NOT know the mother of monsters Norse mythology going into it, which was fine by me. This was a very good fleshing out of that story IMO. It is a very good feminist read of a fierce mother just trying to do the best for herself and her kids—but with a Norse uh weirdness. I mean, do you know someone who has had a literal snake baby? I think not.
Characters: Boda, briefly mentioned in Norse mythology, is a mate of Loki and the mother of monsters. Her name means ‘Sorrow-bringer’, which is potentially accurate. What I loved about Boda is how she finds strength in motherhood and her friendship, though she does have a big blind spot. Which brings us to Loki. I don’t think there was any big recreating the wheel here in terms of his personality, but it also wasn’t needed. Skadi, her bff, is amazing. She was everything Boda needed and a badass bitch who didn’t take any shit. Body’s children—Hel, Fenrir, and Jormungand—were interesting in their own ways though Hel was a bit of a brat for awhile.
Plot: Not knowing much beyond the very basics of the mythology, there we a few fun twists for me along the way. Plus, based on what I read post, there isn’t much known about Boda, so this is a great flesh out of her story as the “Mother of Monsters.” I honestly inhaled this book, so it moved along nicely for my taste. There may have been a small lag in the middle with wandering, but it happens to the best of us.
World Building: I enjoyed the expanded Norse mythology world. As I said before, it’s a good expansion. Our view is a little limited, but I liked Boda’s perspective so much that it was ok with me.
Writing Style: Eek I think it was Boda’s perspective the whole time? Can’t remember rn though.
Drink Pairing: Mead! Ideally that Skadi made, but the locally brewed one near you will suffice.
Rating: 4.5/5 shots