I don’t think any of you have been here long enough to remember (have you?) but my very first book review on this blog was of Fated by Kaylin Lee. I don’t dare link back to that post now because it was… um, old days, and cringey, and if you’re that curious you can dig through the archives yourself anyway. Anyway, Kaylin Lee got me hooked on her series of dystopian fairytale retellings (which I highly recommend, by the way!), and I was lucky enough to get an ARC of her newest release.
So without further ado! Let’s show you the book itself, shall we? (Click on the cover to go to its Goodreads page 🙂 )
What if the Viking Age never ended?
Welcome to Alfheim, the bright, beautiful realm of the light elves. Too bad every inch of it is overrun with Vikings.
Twenty-year-old light elf Elin is just a simple flower farmer. It’s dangerous work, but gold is gold, right? All she wants is to get through the summer raiding season without losing her flower farm or herself to Viking raiders. A romance with a friendly, peaceful farmer would be nice, too.
If only the raiders were the greatest threat to Elin’s survival. But the farmer isn’t who Elin thought he was, and before long, Elin must also navigate the strange machinations of Viking kings and a keep full of backstabbing thralls. Then there’s the mysterious, matchmaking Loki, who lurks about spreading colorful mist and distracting her from her work.
Loki’s only a figment of Elin’s imagination, of course. No one else can see him, and Elin has an unfortunate habit of seeing things no one else sees. Well, there was that one time—
No, he’s only a hallucination. After all, Loki doesn’t really exist. There are no other realms.
Everyone knows that…
This Golden Coil is the first book in Ragnarok’s Edge–a brand-new series inspired by Norse mythology! Frankly, I’ve never been into Norse mythology because… eh. But I do like Scandinavian-fantasy settings. And Vikings will always intrigue me. Lastly, I have great faith in Ms. Lee’s writing (and worldbuilding especially), so it didn’t take much to compel me to pick it up. But I’m so glad I did!
Let’s start with the main character. Elin is such a sweet and earnest protagonist! I’ve always appreciated how much care this author puts into developing her characters’ backstories, often by writing them out in a way that will draw you in, avoiding the pitfalls of the “Evil Prologue” (please teach me your ways, Kaylin Lee). Elin is no exception; the snippets of her life before the story really “sets off” endear her to the reader and definitely make you feel for her. Seeing it, it’s easy to understand why she makes the decisions that she did and why she holds the beliefs she does now.
The other characters were all fascinating to read about, too. They all come from such varying backgrounds that give so many different perspectives about their personal agendas and the main story conflict and the world in which they live… it’s a feast of myriad personalities, lifestyles, and goals constantly rubbing off against each other and kicking all the little story gears in motion. It’s so hard to figure out who the good guys are and who’s bad, and reading through the twists and turns made me really expect that there will be some interesting clashes in the future.
The worldbuilding… I LOVE Kaylin Lee’s worldbuilding; there’s always some raw, gritty undertone to it that makes everything feel more vivid and real. In Ragnarok’s Edge, we’re introduced to a world of elves and Vikings, but the way it’s presented to us builds a solid foundation that many other books don’t. That’s where those colorful side characters come in, painting a picture of their world through their mannerisms and experiences and the way they interact with Elin, an outsider set on becoming the ideal light elf. She’s pulled in separate directions by all the different angles they’re coming from, and that ties into her journey and growth from beginning to end. We’re also teased with glimpses of the supposed other eight realms–Asgard, for instance, brought to you by a very unique portrayal of everyone’s favorite trickster god Loki (but more on that later). I can’t wait to read more about these realms. Ms. Lee also did a fantastic job with describing the culture of the light elves of Alfheim and what a stark contrast they strike in comparison to the raiders. In short, the worldbuilding is a feast.
Speaking of which, the FOOD. I have a love-hate relationship with authors’ describing food in their books. On the one hand, it always seems so delicious and is bound to make you hungry, and on the other hand… -_- So yeah, that was great. Sort of. Mostly great.
I was really surprised by how the author chose to portray Loki in this book. Now, it’s not like I’m an expert or anything, cuz I know like two other portrayals of Loki besides the original Norse figure, but I was NOT expecting him to be this… likable. AND NO I’M NOT SAYING MARVEL’S LOKI ISN’T LIKABLE DON’T TRY TO READ TOO MUCH INTO THIS BUT BE HONEST, THERE WAS ALWAYS A TIME WHEN YOU DID HATE HIM, IF EVEN FOR A MOMENT–he was almost like an uncle figure to Elin?? Which I did not know I needed but I totally did?? So there’s that.
Also, the funniest thing about this book (to me) is that all the way through it, from beginning to end, I… I did not know who Elin is supposed to end up with. Seriously. There are a lot of hints, but I’m still not sure, lol. (I don’t think there’ll be a love triangle so all of you out there worrying–you can breathe now.) That was… so relieving, to be honest. I’m always wary of starting a book that clearly states there will be romance throughout the series because sometimes it means the girl falls in love with her guy within like 2 pages of meeting him and then the rest of the story is just drama with a dash of plot/character development; and if not it can also mean the girl and guy meet, try to kill each other, and have a lot of annoyingly obvious romantic tension while still attempting to hate each other for the rest of the series + some plot and character development, you know? End of rant.
Anyway, that’s about it for this review! Kaylin Lee has done it again, and I can’t wait to see where this series will go! For those of you who enjoy fantasy, VIKING fantasy, interesting twists on mythology, and r-e-a-l-l-y slow-burn romance, I encourage you to pick this up 😉 And if you haven’t already, go check out her fairytale retellings as well and binge on those until the sequel to this book releases.
*I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. A positive review was not required; all views and opinions expressed are my own.*
*dusts hands off*
And that’s a wrap! I hope y’all found this review helpful, and that you’ll consider giving this book a try. Her Destined series has that same gritty feel to it that somehow fits so well with fairytale retellings, and the worldbuilding there is splendiferous. Plus they’re all standalones that carry out an overarching storyline (that’s very intriguing, mind you), so bingeing them is hard to resist. (My personal favorite is book four, which was brilliant, but we won’t go there today.)
I’m starting to like this new posting schedule–in which I surprise you all with a couple of sporadic posts each month xD Let’s hope I can actually keep this up, yeah? Maybe next week I’ll actually manage to post another one of those Real Talks episodes, hmm…