Angrboda’s story begins where most witches’ tales end: with a burning. A punishment from Odin for refusing to provide him with knowledge of the future, the fire leaves Angrboda injured and powerless, and she flees into the farthest reaches of a remote forest. There she is found by a man who reveals himself to be Loki, and her initial distrust of him transforms into a deep and abiding love.
Their union produces three unusual children, each with a secret destiny, who Angrboda is keen to raise at the edge of the world, safely hidden from Odin’s all-seeing eye. But as Angrboda slowly recovers her prophetic powers, she learns that her blissful life—and possibly all of existence—is in danger.
With help from the fierce huntress Skadi, with whom she shares a growing bond, Angrboda must choose whether she’ll accept the fate that she’s foreseen for her beloved family…or rise to remake their future. From the most ancient of tales this novel forges a story of love, loss, and hope for the modern age.
I thought I knew a little Norse mythology, but The Witch’s Heart quickly made it clear that I knew nothing (and also pointed out how much of the show Vikings went right over my head). While the writing felt very bare-bones, the story was heartbreakingly beautiful.
The she-wolf studied her with viciously intelligent eyes. Guilt is a heavy thing, Mother Witch, she said. It’s best left behind if you want to move forward.
Because of the writing style, most of the emotions were pretty simple. So, while the story was heartbreaking, I didn’t really feel the heartbreak. It almost felt like reading secondhand; I got the essence of it, and it was wonderful, and I couldn’t stop reading, but I couldn’t help feeling that if the writing was more developed, it would have been a more profound, more immersive experience.
Angrboda endures so much at the hands of others, living for small moments of happiness. Starting from heartless and burned, her journey is one of love, motherhood, and, ultimately, betrayal and self-discovery. She’s alone but surrounded by so many interesting characters – I want to know more about all of them, but especially Angrboda and Hel.
"What shall we call this one? It's your turn to come up with a name."
Loki thought for a moment and held his arm out. The snake slithered up it as clumsily as a baby taking its first steps.
"Jormungand," Loki said.
"We are not calling our son 'awesomely powerful magical stick.'"
This superficial introduction to Norse mythology was delightfully witchy and full of magic and gods and interesting people. The Witch’s Heart has inspired me to add a lot more books in this same vein to my already too-long reading list. I want to know so much more about these mythological beings.
The ending doesn't matter. What matters is how we get there. To face what's ahead with as much dignity as we can muster and make the most of the time we have left.