My 5* #bookreview of ODIN’S SHADOW (Sons of Odin Book 1) by Erin S. Riley
Obsession. Treachery. Revenge. Redemption. Certain themes resonate across the centuries.
In ninth-century Ireland, Selia is a girl on the verge of womanhood, frustrated by the confines of her gender and resentful of the freedom her brother boasts of. Intelligent and resourceful in a time when neither is valued in a female, she longs for an escape from her sheltered existence. Fascinated by the tales of Viking raids told by her maidservant, Selia’s hunger for independence is fed through the stories of heathen ferocity she hears at the woman’s knee.
A decision to sneak to the city’s harbor to view the Viking longships leads to an encounter with Alrik Ragnarson, a charismatic Viking warlord whose outward beauty masks a dark and tortured mind. With the knowledge that her father is about to announce her betrothal to a man she doesn’t love, Selia marries Alrik and within a day is on the longship bound for Norway and a new life.
While Selia’s relationship with her new husband grows, her friendship with his brother Ulfrik grows as well. And as Alrik’s character flaws come to light and tension mounts between the two brothers, Selia begins to have misgivings about her hasty marriage . . . especially when a secret from the past is revealed, one that threatens to destroy them all.
When I first started reading this book, it reminded me of the old bodice-rippers I used to read when younger. You know, the young girl that falls prey to the dashing bad boy, pirate, or in this case, a Viking. This tale doesn’t have the sexual tension and heat of those types of stories that got us all hot and bothered. No, this story has substance, an actual plot and relatable characters. I fell in love with Selia, and felt her dilemma of being married off to a man old enough to be her grandfather. But, her father had his own reasons for making that type of match. Because, you see, Selia has a huge secret that no one must discover. Actually, Selia and her twin brother, Anniileas, are both big secrets. Their adoptive father, Naill, found them alongside a creek, beside a dead woman. Who was the woman? Were these her children? Where did they come from?
This story has so many hooks built into the storyline, if just kept me turning the pages. Especially when we get to know Alrik Ragnarson and his dark past. Will he repeat the mistakes of his father? As Selia comes to terms with her rash decision to marry Alrik, she found finds herself attracted to Ulfrik, her husband’s brother. When Alrik’s dark nature emerged, I found myself on a roller coaster about the man she should be with. I liked Ulfrik, but there was a hidden side to him too. What are his true motives for Selia and his brother? All the ugly truths are revealed at the Gathering, and I don’t blame Selia for running. Ultimately, I feel she made the right choice. Time will tell.
I really enjoyed the adventure Riley took me on, and I’m so glad it didn’t turn into a bodice-ripper. If you love historical romances set during the Viking era, you will love this book. I give it 5 feathers, and I can’t wait to read more of this series.