Penny hitched her backpack up over her shoulder. “I couldn’t help but notice a little tension between you and Jack.”
“He delivered some apples to my afi’s store last night. We shared opinions on topics ranging from evolution to economics to progress in the form of bulldozing Main Street. Needless to say, we didn’t agree. I was for and he was against. I guess I rubbed him the wrong way.”
That summed it up nicely: I’d managed to alienate both the monarchy and the peasantry. We stopped at the intersection of the school’s north and south wings. Penny waved and headed in the opposite direction. I watched her walk away, wondering what she thought of me. Acquaintances for only two hours, and the only concrete things she knew about me were that the school king was blowing me random kisses and that I was in favor of leveling their town. I just hoped I hadn’t scared her off; I really needed a friend, and should topiary hair and woolly vests be part of the package, so be it.
Author: Wendy Delsol
Synopsis: Displaced from Los Angeles to a traditionally Icelandic town in Minnesota, teenage Katla Leblanc finds herself battling not only small-town priorities and new-girl difficulties, but magic. She’s quickly inducted into a secret society of Stork ladies who, by dream and symbol, choose the mothers for souls needing to be born. To add to her troubles, not all of the Storks like having her around—and neither does popular, threatening Wade—and neither, apparently, does the also-magical Jack Snjosson, who shares a bit of history with her that everyone except her remembers. When she starts getting caught in deadly situation after deadly situation, Katla isn’t sure who to suspect or how to defend herself, much less which potential mother ought to have the baby girl who comes to her in dreams.
Notes: Delsol’s melding of Norse mythology with a quirky, fashion-conscious teenage voice is a quick and pleasant read. Despite the fact that quirky teen voices can be a touch headache-inducing at times, Katla comes off likable, and her alternating humor and sadness make her very sympathetic.
For a mild teen paranormal fantasy, it’s quite enjoyable. Worldbuilding, character development, plot and romance are all handled rather lightly, but Katla is engaging enough to carry the tale, and it never gets dull.
It seems to fall somewhere between attempting seriousness and the slightly zany, however. The villain, like the hero, is a tad too big and archetypal for the britches he’s cast in. Plot points felt random at times, and the smaller ones were left unresolved as often as not. The fourth chair in Kat’s dream is still a niggling mystery to me; I spent half the book speculating on it, and not only did it never get clarified, but Kat’s relevant lie didn’t seem to make any final difference to the outcome. Granted, there’s a sequel out and a third in the works, so perhaps some of the stray threads will get tied up therein.
The hero turned out to be the dream-guy sort who comes off rather more believable in an epic fantasy setting than in modern high school. His traditional, hardworking upbringing is the one thing that saves him from seeming entirely implausible. I’ve got to admit, though, that he’s lovable. Aspects of Penny’s behavior are difficult to comprehend, however, even under the guise of “Minnesota nice.” The various Frus have some interest and uncertainty about them, and Kat’s parents were comprehensibly flawed and decent at the same time.
Parents may wish to be advised that there's a fair amount of extramarital sexual activity going on in this book, and that Kat's (European) father lets her drink. Kat, however, is not sexually involved thus far, and she regrets her one overuse of alcohol.
As the end of the book approached, it became very clear that there weren’t enough remaining pages for full resolution. That said, more of the story got wrapped up than expected, and Delsol spared us the terrifying cliffhanger ending that so many trilogy- and series-writers use to keep interest going. As for myself, I was happy enough with the tale and the ending to come away with some interest in the sequels.
Recommendation: Read it for a fun, easygoing take on the modern-day-meets-mythology meme.