About the Book
Centuries ago, all was lost in the Last Battle when the Norse gods and goddesses went to war. The elves, the giants, and the gods and goddesses themselves were all destroyed, leaving the Valkyrie Mist one of the only survivors.
Or so she thought.
When a snowy winter descends upon modern-day San Francisco in June, Mist’s quiet existence starts to feel all too familiar. In quick succession, Mist is attacked by a frost giant in a public park and runs into an elf disguised as a homeless person on the streets…and then the man Mist believed was her mortal boyfriend reveals himself to be the trickster god, Loki, alive and well after all these years.
Loki has big plans for the modern world, and he’s been hanging around Mist for access to a staff that once belonged to the great god Odin. Mist is certain of one thing: Loki must be stopped if there is to be any hope for Earth. But the fight is even bigger than she knows….
Because Loki wasn’t the only god to survive.
384 pages (paperback)
Published on July 16, 2013
Published by Tor
This book was sent for me to review by the publisher.
Occasionally I get myself into trouble. Despite the fact that Mist had all the telltale signs of a book that I probably wouldn’t like, the Norse mythology aspect of it was unique enough to make want to give it a go anyway. So I read it, and I finished it, and I rolled my eyes and moved on. This is one of those books where the concept is better than the execution.
Mist never really manages to grip the readers. She’s a rather unequally balanced character. On the one hand, she’s a strong, independent heroine that I can respect. She lives her life and does the best she can, and she can also kick butt when needed. She adjusts to new situations easily enough without much mental fight or struggle. On the other hand, she’s foolish almost to the point of being stupid. She often jumps into situations without thought, which get her into more trouble than necessary. For someone as well trained a warrior as she is, she seems to win most of her battles and arguments by sheer dumb luck. So you see, on the one hand she’s a respectable creation, but that’s nicely balanced by all of the two-dimensional, topey aspects the author saddled her with. These two factors work well together to create a character in Mist that is almost impossible for the reader to connect to. Her story is interesting, but her development is off just enough to make her unbelievable and almost ridiculous.
That being said, while many urban fantasy readers will probably expect a bit of romance out of their urban fantasy books, there really isn’t any here to speak of. This is a huge bonus for Krinard. Not every urban fantasy book needs to be full of sexual tension and sex scenes and Krinard not only knows that, but she takes advantage of the fact. While there is one character that will develop into Mist’s love interest, Mist herself is (realistically) too busy to really pay too much attention to that sort of thing. This lack of a romantic detour really helps readers focus on the world, plot, characters, and mythology more than they otherwise would. That’s also a good thing, because Mist really does take some time to sink your teeth into.
The world building is something else I took issue with. Toward the beginning of the book Mist finds a frost giant and an elf. Both of these events mystify her, but perhaps due to my inability to connect with the main character, I never felt that wonder. Instead, I was told that she was mystified. I was also told that it was snowing in summer, and numerous other things. In fact, in Mist there is quite a bit of telling going on, and not much showing. The world is just about as believable as the characters, which isn’t much. It never comes to life. I could never picture anything, and there are details that were off. It’s snowing in June, but Mist seems to just absorb that information and none of the people who live in San Francisco really mention it at all. It’s snowing in June. That’s weird. Move on. Look, there’s a frost giant. That’s weird. Move on. There is no world building. There is no dynamic sequence of events that bring everything together in a glorious ah-ha moment. Nothing pops. Instead, the reader is presented with an interesting concept and incredibly clunky execution. The world isn’t real, and the reader will know it.
All of these issues perhaps point to the greatest one that underscores them all. Krinard’s poor execution, which I keep mentioning, is perhaps most effected by her writing style. There are some incredibly obvious and poorly done infodumps, which are basically shouted at the reader through these tedious and way-too-long verbal slapdowns between Loki and other people. The dialogue with everyone in the book is as wooden as the characters themselves. Some scenes are far too long, while others that should have been longer to allow Krinard to expand on the world, mythology, or characters, weren’t long enough. It just seemed like the focus was everywhere it shouldn’t be, which leaves readers with this gaping hole where a hole shouldn’t exist and a complete inability to connect with the characters, world, and plot.
It’s too bad, because the idea that fuels this book is a unique one that will appeal to all the people who look for unique urban fantasy books to read. There’s a huge amount of promise here, but unfortunately Mist just doesn’t deliver any of it. Krinard has a clunky execution. Her characters are underdeveloped. The world barely exists in my mind’s eye. There’s no emotional appeal due to a tell-rather-than-show style of writing. Infodumps and overly long scenes are distracting and wooden dialogue makes whatever interest that could exist nonexistent. In the end, I must commend the author for the effort it takes to write a book, while admitting that I just can’t recommend this one.
I read and reviewed this one fairly recently too. I didn’t rate it as low as you did, but I agree with just about every point you brought up. Mist as a character fell rather flat, I had a tough time relating to her, and while her throwing herself recklessly into danger didn’t bug me so much, I can see why it would bother other people. I found Loki to be the most compelling character of all, and kind of wish the whole thing had been from his perspective.
And complete agreement on the issue with it snowing in June. It was mentioned, mentioned as a sign of the end times, and then nothing else after that. No side characters ponder it, it doesn’t become an issue with any of the main characters.
I gave it some higher marks for an interesting concept, and for the fact that the intended romance didn’t beat me about the head repeatedly, as I find happens a lot in urban fantasies. That, plus Loki. I really do have a soft spot for trickster deities.
I thought I remembered something like this before with ragnarok, valkyries and even the name Mist . Have you heard of, or read Norse Code by Greg Van Eekhout? I can’t remember when I read it but I did enjoy it. And it even caused me to look up the God Hermod on the internet just to find out a little more about him.