Saturday, April 13, 2024

A Fate Inked in Blood (Saga of the Unfated #1) by Danielle L Jensen

I won't lie, a pretty cover catches my eye, and it was the lovely illustration by Portuguese artist Eleonor Piteira that made me read the blurb then request A Fate Inked in Blood by Danielle L Jensen off NetGalley. As some of you already know, I'm a huge fan of Scandinavian-inspired yarns, and there does rather seem to be a rash of them lately. Depending on how much research an author has bothered to do or if they've just watched one too many episode of Vikings or The Last Kingdom, savvy readers can quickly tell. I suspect Jensen falls firmly in the latter category, however.

I'd cast A Fate Inked in Blood firmly in the romantasy genre, so if 'icky girl stuff' isn't your jam, then this is probably not the novel for you. Me, I'm quite happy with the romance, provided it doesn't derail the plot, and Jensen does strike a fair balance between the two that kept those pages turning.

The plot is pretty standard, compared to many that I've seen. We meet Freya, who's married to a fisherman who's got divine blood. He's kinda a celeb in their village, his magic responsible for bringing in good catches. The catch? He's Not A Very Nice Man. Of course, we meet Bjorn very early on, and he is A Very Nice Man. Too bad that when Freya's husband is out of the picture, she has to get married to someone else who isn't Bjorn, but his daddy. Of course, Freya, who's been pretty disenchanted with her initial lot as fishwife, is not particularly charmed with being treated like chattel when all she's ever wanted to be is a renowned shield maiden. Everyone else seems to know what's best for her, however. And she's in a situation where she can't say no.

But there's more. It seems that Freya's pretty special herself, for she, too, has a drop of divine blood about her – the kind that would make her a rather good shield maiden. Also, she's wrapped up in a prophecy, which makes things even more complicated, because now there's a bunch of ambitious men who are making grabby fingers at her.

Anyhow, it's not this review's purpose to retell the entire book. For what it is, this isn't a bad little story, and if you're looking for a bunch of romantic tension, this book has it by the bucketloads. As a reader, I do wish there'd been a bit more attention to detail in terms of world building. I guess if you've watched Vikings, it's going to be easy for you to visualise stuff – but I did feel the environment was a bit white-roomy and could have used a smidge more fleshing out. The story does get off on a strong start, but it starts dithering a little and then rushes to wrap stuff up before ending on a cliffie. What did work for me was the Freya-Bjorn dynamic – they seem well suited to each other, and as characters, complement each other well. If you're hooked by book one, I expect you're in for quite a wild ride with glorious battles, intrigue, and wild magic, all liberally dosed with Norse flavour.

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