The Strange Maid: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

“In a week and a half I’ll be seventeen. It’s a decade since I climbed the New World Tree, since Odin Alfather, god of the hanged, named me the next Valkyrie of the Tree, and still I have not won my place on the Valkyrie council.”

The Strange Maid by Tessa GrattonSigny Valborn dedicated herself to Odin when she was seven years old. She was told one day she would join Odin’s Valkyrie council and fill the long vacant place of the Valkyrie of the Tree. That was before she read the riddle. Before she left her Death Hall and her sister Valkyrie behind.

The Valkyrie of the Tree will prove herself with a stone heart. Signy knows that is her riddle. But after traveling far and wide through New Asgard for years, she is no closer to finding an answer.

Until a mysterious troll hunter named Ned Unferth appears with a proposal. Ned speaks in riddles as well as ancient poetry and truths that feel more like lies. But he promises Signy that a greater mountain troll holds the answer to her riddle and offers to train Signy to hunt them. Signy has never been so close to her future and has little choice but to accept Ned’s help.

Their winding journey will take Signy to the wilds of Canadia and beyond. Along the way she will cross paths with a lone berserker named Soren Bearstar, a monstrous troll mother, and the truth behind the destiny she was promised so long ago in The Strange Maid (2014) by Tessa Gratton.

Find it on Bookshop.

The Strange Maid is the second book in Gratton’s Songs of New Asgard (United States of Asgard) series. It is preceded by The Lost Sun. Both books function very well as stand-alone titles however, because of timeline and character overlap, The Strange Maid does include some spoilers for The Lost Sun if you choose to read the books out of order.

Gratton once again delivers a perfect blend of myth and fantasy in this engrossing tale. Signy is a sharp, wild narrator with strong opinions and a vibrant love of poetry that comes through in every word of her frank narration. Ned, Signy’s mysterious companion for much of the novel, is a perfect foil as Signy is forced again and again to re-evaluate what she knows (or thinks she knows) about her chosen path.

The Strange Maid is a vivid story about the power of choice as well as an ode to the strength of well-chosen friendships. References to Beowulf and other Norse tales will bring these older myths to life for new readers.

Ideas of causality as well as free will are also artfully explored in this remarkable second book in a trilogy that promises even greater things to come.

Possible Pairings: Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken, Graceling by Kristin Cashore, Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst, The Curiosities by Tessa Gratton, Maggie Stiefvater and Brenna Yovanoff, Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones, Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers,  Freya by Matthew Laurence, The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley, Soundless by Richelle Mead, Clariel by Garth Nix, Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce, Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell, The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab, Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick, The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke, The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner, Beowulf

You can also check back for my interview with Tessa starting tomorrow!

October Reading Tracker

You can also see what I read in September.

This month I’m in the unique position of starting a new book right on the first so I’ll be adding to this list as I get stuff read. I’m a bit tired of planning out what will be read in the month so we’ll just see what shakes out. JUST KIDDING. I feel adrift.

  1. 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith: I was an idiot thinking I could read this. I spent 40 pages gritting my teeth before I realized that this one just wasn’t going to happen. I can see what the hype is about but I couldn’t deal with Finn’s seizures on a very primal level and I have read enough to know that while I can recommend this books it might not be the best idea for me to read them myself. Sorry AS fans, I tried!
  2. Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys: Starting this one on October 2. And finished. Everything tied up a little too neatly here and as usual The Book Smugglers had a lot of wise things to say about it.
  3. The Memory of After by Lenore Applehans: Starting October 3.
  4. The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
  5. Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White
  6. Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle
  7. Princess of Thorns by Stavey Jay
  8. Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers
  9. The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
  10. Now That You’re Here by Amy K. Nichols
  11. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
  12. Blackfin Sky by Kat Ellis
  13. In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

October 4: Still reading The Memory of After and adding some other prospective titles.

October 6: Done with The Memory of After which I think was just not my kind of book. Also giving up on The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender. I think it might be a beautiful book but not one that I can emotionally deal with now (or possibly ever.

October 10: Finished Illusions of Fate which I wasn’t planning on reading this month but turned out to be the exact book I needed. It was absolutely delightful. Starting Famous in Love now.

October 22: Finished Famous in Love, Cracked Up to Be, Princess of Thorns. On to The Darkest Part of the Forest which I am about halfway through.

October 31: Ten books read this month. No complaints.