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Young Adult Fiction 326
intriguing YA fantasy for younger YA audiences
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THE VALKYRIE'S DAUGHTER was an intriguing YA fantasy about Sigrid, a 16-year-old who was found as an infant on Vanaheim with a Midgard horse. Not having a winged horse means that she cannot be a Valkyrie, and Sigrid wishes for this more than anything. Although she is just a stablehand, she trains with her horse, Hestur, always trying to prove that she has what it takes.

When Vanaheim is attacked by forces from Helheim, Sigrid leaps into action and finds herself face-to-face with an enemy valkyrie. In the scuffle, she sees a vision of herself leading the valkyries on the back of Odin's legendary horse, Sleipnir. When the dust settles, Sigrid has lost the relic she was trying to protect and destroyed the enemy valkyrie's horse, the ultimate crime. Determined to prove herself, Sigrid decides to bring the enemy valkyrie on a quest to Helheim to retrieve the stolen relic and fulfill the destiny she saw of herself as the hero. However, destiny is never as straight-forward as one might think, and her path is fraught with lies and twists all the way to the underworld.

What I loved: Ultimately, this was one girl's quest to find herself and become something more than the tedium of her current life. Sigrid is bullied by the valkyries, but she knows that given the chance, she could be one too. When the vision gives her hope of all her dreams and then some being fulfilled, it is a temptation she cannot resist. Along the way, Sigrid begins to learn more about herself, what really matters, and what she truly wants - no small revelations.

Themes around fate/destiny, friendship, family, purpose, betrayal, trust, bullying, and embracing yourself make this an intriguing read. There is much to consider, and YA audiences will appreciate these topics that may reflect their own experiences, as they are trying to define themselves amidst a changing landscape as well (though on a less mythological level).

The world-building was really intriguing here. This is inspired by Viking mythology, but it takes a lot of liberties with it, creating a new world and characters/roles. Through this journey, the reader learns much about it, and it was built gradually, through Sigrid's lived experience, which kept the pace quite fast. This ends up being a questing/action read that keeps the reader on their toes with reveals and twists along the way.

The characters were also compelling. Mariam ended up being one of my favorite characters, someone who understands the space between black and white while trying to make the best decisions. Sigrid has a complex relationship with her, particularly as she is beginning to realize her attraction to Miriam. Another compelling character is Fisk, who is introduced later but adds some comic relief and is really fun to get to know.

What left me wanting more: In some ways, the plot felt a bit too predictable, and while I was captivated by the beginning half, the latter half was a bit harder to fully engage with. Sigrid makes many missteps and the fallout feels too predictable. The complexity of her situation and relationships takes a backseat to some quick scenes with more heavy action and predictable twists. I struggled with the way things were wrapped up as well. However, the ending is relatively satisfying without any major cliffhangers.

Final verdict: An intriguing YA fantasy, THE VALKYRIE'S DAUGHTER is an action-adventure read that will appeal to a younger YA audience. Recommend for fans of Percy Jackson, Morrigan Crow, and OH. MY. GODS.
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