Title: The Strange Maid
Author: Tessa Gratton
Series: The United States of Asgard #2
Signy Valborn has been the child Valkyrie ever since she climbed the World Tree and met Odin, who made her a Valkyrie for her stubbornness and fire. But she’s no longer a media darling like the other Valkyrie. Not since the riddle. Not since she couldn’t figure out what Odin meant when he carved her destiny on the Tree. So when a man appears, claiming to have the answer, she latches on to him and sets off to kill a troll . . .
This isn’t a direct continuation of the first book as much as a parallel story that envelops those eight days Soren and Astrid go after the missing Baldur. That confused me at first since I hadn’t realized the event hadn’t happened yet, but once it does everything falls into place.
I still like the worldbuilding immensely. Here is a fully realized culture, with its own holidays, customs, flavor. It’s not just a few Norse things plastered on to an urban America. America itself may have the same geography but the settlement pattern was markedly different, with things like trolls making “rural” a rather dangerous option. Signy, being a Valkyrie, gets a somewhat different view of things than Soren. And Signy’s newfound obsession with hunting trolls leads her down some fascinating paths, such as troll culture and habitat.
I also liked how certain familiar stories so deftly wove into the plot. And one of the final twists was brilliant.
Unfortunately, everything I like is tempered by Signy herself. She’s not a bad lead. I definitely preferred Soren’s striving for coolness and control in the face of his berzerk heritage over Signy’s unrestrained passions, though that doesn’t make her a bad character. I was a bit annoyed she seemed to flirt with just about every man that crosses her path that isn’t already married. I also didn’t care for the liberal use of alcohol. Again, she’s not badly written, just someone whose thoughts I enjoyed far less than Soren.
The book ends on a bit of a tease, although not an unbearable one. It will be interesting to see where the third book goes. I rate this book Recommended.