When Lena’s younger sister Fressa is found dead, their whole Viking clan mourns—but it is Lena alone who never recovers. Fressa is the sister that should’ve lived, and Lena cannot rest until she knows exactly what killed Fressa and why—and how to bring her back. She strikes a dark deal with Hela, the Norse goddess of death, and begins a new double life to save her sister.
But as Lena gets closer to bringing Fressa back, she dredges up dangerous discoveries about her own family, and finds herself in the middle of a devastating plan to spur Ragnarök –a deadly chain of events leading to total world destruction.
Still, with her sister’s life in the balance, Lena is willing to risk it all. She’s willing to kill. How far will she go before the darkness consumes her?
The Weight of a Soul by Elizabeth Tammi is a tragic and emotional journey of the soul that focuses on secrets and the harsh consequences that ride in their wake. It’s a tale of love and loss, deception and guilt, and loyalty and ambition; all potentially conflicting concepts that plague those who are driven by desperation. It’s utterly heartbreaking, crushing, and bleak, all in a ways that make it feel so incredibly real and relatable to readers who have also suffered. It forces us to ask ourselves what we would be willing to do, what sacrifices we would be willing to make, in order to change the past and be reunited with those we hold dearest in our hearts.
When I originally spotted this title, I was immediately drawn in by its summary. I have an affinity for anything Norse or Norse-inspired, so this was a must-read for me. Unfortunately, I felt a bit misled by the blurb, thinking that this was to be an adventurous whodunit story throughout the realms with tragedy as the driving factor, but what I received was a very personal tale of a girl dealing with the devastating loss of her sister. The majority of this novel is really an examination of the human psyche when faced with harrowing events that bring about despair. It’s a bit slow-paced for my personal tastes, but there are plenty of aspects that would appeal to many readers.
This story uniquely considers the concepts of death and the afterlife while pulling in references to many different mythological histories, with major focus on Norse myths and ideology to match the setting. Tammi does a wonderful job of conveying many aspects with attention to the most minute of details, whether it be the descriptions of living conditions or the beauty of marriage celebrations. It’s well-written with simple, straightforward, and easy to follow prose, yet has poignant metaphors smartly peppered throughout for impact. The mystery threaded throughout is what kept me invested in the story, however, I felt it took on a secondary nature to the emotional factor of the book.
Tammi excels at infusing this story with such sincere and authentic emotion to make this a truly sentimental journey. She pulls back the skin, muscle, and bone, allowing us to peer into the very souls of those who are dealing with the effects of disaster and woe with pristine and stunning detail. The grief associated with loss is something that is touched upon by many authors, but the raw nature of it, along with the resolute desperation that follows, is not portrayed very often, making this a distinctively affecting story.
I felt the plot meandered for a good portion of this book, and then the final portion where light began to dissolve the shadows occurred at the pace of an avalanche, rushed and unfocused. I feel like this story would’ve benefitted from drawing out the ending a bit, and not just a “here are the answers” approach. I particularly enjoyed the mythological details imbued throughout, although I wish there was much more, or at least taken further. The little tidbits presented along the way allowed me to connect the dots well before the grand reveal, sadly making it somewhat anticlimactic. Lastly, for a character-driven story, the characters the author has given voice to left me with clashing thoughts, as assumed roles are often overshadowed by their lack of effort.
The Weight of a Soul was a read I went into with high expectations, and those expectations have unfortunately not been met simply due to misinformation. If you’re searching for an action-packed adventure and the ferocity associated with those of the Viking Age, this isn’t the one you’re looking for. The mythology is subtle, so it’s comfortable for readers who are not familiar with all the gods and terminology. Many readers will adore the intimacy of this book, which is beautifully illustrated without question, so if that’s what you’re craving, I suggest giving this one a shot.
Note: A huge thank you to Flux for providing me with an advanced copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.