I have always been drawn to books based on mythology and folklore, and the gorgeous cover for The Helheim Princess drew me in just as much as the title did. I’ve become quite familiar with the goddess Hel and Helheim through various fictional interpretations, and I was curious to see what this one was like!
There is a death of a horse and some moments where horses are handled badly, bordering on being mistreated.
I wanted to like this book more than I did because it has a beautiful sapphic love story, some great characters, and wonderful Norse world-building, but the sad reality is that it is chock-full of YA tropes. The first problem straight out of the gate is that the title and the synopsis gives the plot away immediately. You’re probably thinking, hold on a second, The Helheim Princess is for teen readers, and you’re a thirty-something year old woman. Of course, it seems obvious to you! Sorry, but teenagers aren’t idiots. This novel is listed as being for 12 to 17-year-olds on Amazon, and while I can see readers of the younger end of that age bracket not piecing things together, I can tell you from experience that older teens definitely will.
Despite the predictable plot, The Helheim Princess was an enjoyable read. I feel that it suffered from what I call ‘first book syndrome’, where the author sticks to a very basic plot to get the protagonist’s original story out and get them in position for book two. In this book, Sigrid finds out who she is, follows her destiny and decides who she wants to be, while falling in love, making friends and learning a few hard lessons along the way. It is a very typical coming of age story, so what made The Helheim Princess different enough for me to give it a decent rating? Well, that would be the world-building.
Warner has created a unique and magical interpretation of Norse mythology and the nine worlds, and offers an insight into her creative process at the end of the book. It was interesting to see where her path took her from original sources and academic texts as she explained how one of the few two sources we have of Norse folklore was written by a Christian, and the other, a primary source, is filled with gaps. The world she has created in The Helheim Princess is her interpretation of these sources and an attempt to fill in some of the gaps, creatively. The result is a fantastic world where baby Valkyries are born at the exact same time as a winged mare, rather than them being the traditional “chooser of the slain”. Instead, they are guardians, warriors who protect the nine realms. For the most part, the nine realms are the same, with a few changes here and there.
This is also a book for horse lovers. Warner is a lifelong rider, and it shows in every scene. She brings all that experience to provide authentic, fast-paced action scenes with the horses, and they are probably the best I’ve seen in a fantasy novel.
An easy read with lovely characters and a great romance, The Helheim Princess might not have scored high for me as an individual book, however it definitely put The Helheim Prophecy series, and it’s author Tiana Warner on my radar. I’ll certainly be keeping my eye out for book two because I want to see where Sigrid and Mariam’s story goes, and spend more time in the world Warner has created.
Books by Tiana Warner
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Over to you
Thanks for reading my review for The Helheim Princess. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the book, so let me know what you think about The Helheim Princess in the comments 🙂
The Helheim Princess by Tiana Warner is due to be released on January 4th 2022 and is currently available for pre-order from any of the links in this post!
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