AUTHOR: Karissa Laurel
PUBLISHER: Red Adept Publishing
Four months after her twin brother's murder, Solina Mundy leaves her quiet North Carolina home to clean out his apartment in Alaska. Though the police have designated the case as unsolved, she soon begins to suspect that his friends know more than they're letting on. What's more, she's been getting strange nightmares--visions of a wolf devouring her brother that seem to have come true. She soon discovers that there's more to Mani's world than he told her--legacies of gods and monsters from Norse legends come to life--and that she herself has a greater part in it than she could have imagined.
Okay, who doesn't love a good story of ancient mythology come to life in the modern world? I'm a sucker for this kind of thing, and Karissa Laurel's MIDNIGHT BURNING really hit the spot. The story follows the classic fantasy hero's journey... ordinary character gets jerked out of her banal life by unthinkable circumstances, discovers that she has supernatural abilities, and finds herself at the center of huge, world-ending conflict... But does so with unique flair.
Pause for disclosures. *clears throat* Karissa and I share a publisher, Red Adept Publishing. We're also buddies. However, neither Karissa nor Red Adept asked me to write this review, and all this gushing represents my honest opinion of the book.
Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, flair. MIDNIGHT BURNING is full of it. Solina herself is a mild-mannered character, a shy girl thrust into circumstances she's completely unprepared for, but the supporting cast is as full of color and energy as a laser show. There's Skyla, a tough-as-nails ex-Marine with the spirit of a modern day Valkyrie who was Mani's close friend and who refuses to rest until she and Solina uncover the truth behind his death. There's Val Wotan, Mani's coworker and buddy whose easy charm and swoon-worthy looks spell irresistible trouble. And then there's Aleksander Thorin, Mani's boss, who's more the strong-and-silent type, but who exudes a mysterious, magnetic kind of allure. As their surnames suggest, Val and Thorin turn out to be closely connected to their legendary Norse namesakes. Very closely connected.
I couldn't blame Solina for stumbling into that love triangle--who wouldn't have trouble picking between the unreliable but oh-so-charming playboy and the standoffish but oh-so-magnetic billionaire?--and for once, I seriously didn't know who Mr. Right was supposed to be.
But the romance part was only a small part of a much more complex story, full of rich worldbuilding that takes Norse myths of old and expands them into the modern world. And detective-story-like mystery-solving as Solina and Skyla seek the truth behind Mani's death. And fantasy adventure as Solina explores her newfound superpowers... and finds herself the target of villains who literally want to end the world. Talk about stakes!
As the story progresses, Solina grows and develops as a character, and I loved watching her emerge from her brother's shadow to become a kickass heroine in her own right. Between the plot and the world and the characters, I was completely hooked and found myself reading every chance I got (I was seriously pulling out my Kindle to sneak an extra page or two every time I had even five minutes to myself).
By the time I reached the end, I was bummed it was over. Fair warning: this book ends on a cliffhanger. The good news: The sequel, ARCTIC DAWN, is now out! Plus, rumor has it that Karissa's working on a prequel novella that will tell Mani's story...
Book trailer for MIDNIGHT BURNING (made by yours truly):
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Karissa Laurel has tried her hand at many things -- cooking/catering, law, art -- but writing makes her the happiest.
When she's feeling brave, she's on the slopes or riding off-road motorcycles with her guys. When she's less adventuresome, she's on the couch with her nose buried in a book.
She lives in North Carolina with her kid, husband, occasional in-law, and a hairy husky named Bonnie.