Series: Mist #1
Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Published by Tor Books on July 16, 2013
Source: Author, NetGalley
Reviewed by: Julia
Non explicit sex and rape scenes.
New York Times bestselling author Susan Krinard launches her first urban fantasy series
Centuries ago, all was lost in the Last Battle when the Norse gods and goddesses went to war. The elves, the giants, and the gods and goddesses themselves were all destroyed, leaving the Valkyrie Mist one of the only survivors.
Or so she thought.
When a snowy winter descends upon modern-day San Francisco in June, Mist’s quiet existence starts to feel all too familiar. In quick succession, Mist is attacked by a frost giant in a public park and runs into an elf disguised as a homeless person on the streets…and then the man Mist believed was her mortal boyfriend reveals himself to be the trickster god, Loki, alive and well after all these years.
Loki has big plans for the modern world, and he’s been hanging around Mist for access to a staff that once belonged to the great god Odin. Mist is certain of one thing: Loki must be stopped if there is to be any hope for Earth. But the fight is even bigger than she knows….
Because Loki wasn’t the only god to survive.
MIST is urban fantasy in the most classic application of the genre, taking the intricate mythology and tropes of classic Fantasy and transporting them to the streets of San Francisco. Reminiscent of Mercedes Lackey's Bardic Voices, but with a Nordic twist, Krinard brings frost giants and ancient godlings to life in the modern world.
While the Krinard's premise and mythology worked really well for me, the heroine Mist was the confluence of several mechanisms that fell flat. As a Valkyrie with intimate knowledge of the history an politics of the gods, Mist had many expository conversations that poured all of that knowledge into the narration, too much and for too long to keep me interested. At the same time, the heroine is also experiencing changes in her magic, lifetime secrets are being revealed. Fated, innate magic that swoops in to save the day distanced me from the story as well, as the mechanics of these transformative events are beyond the character's grasp (or being kept from her) and thus not interesting to unravel.
In addition to Mist's developing magic, both the hero and lover-turned-villain points of view make it clear that there are a lot of machinations behind the scenes of which Mist remains unaware. Though the story initially paints Mist as a strong, kick butt Valkyrie, these key elements of the story repaint her as progressively more vulnerable and oblivious. The narrative took on flavors of an old school romance, complete with a damsel in over her head, a hero with a tortured past and a secret, and Loki providing the sexually depraved villain point of view. Unlike a romance, however, this urban fantasy series has a long road to go before happily-ever-after, making this particular installment fall flat for me.
Despite a strong start and original mythology, the mechanics of how Krinard's characters unfold didn't work for me. The cast of characters expanded before I was particularly invested in the hero and heroine, and as the narration followed Mist, Dainn and Loki, I found myself equally alienated from hero, heroine, side kicks and villain. Fans of classic fantasy will enjoy this modern take on Norse mythology, but the excellent world building wasn't enough to keep me anchored in the story.