Friday, October 20, 2017

TRIPLE BOOK REVIEW: The Norse Chronicles / Karissa Laurel

Hey everyone! I recently finished reading Karissa Laurel's Norse Chronicles series, and it was a blast! I read and reviewed the first book, Midnight Burning, a bit over a year ago, then finally got around to the sequel this summer, and finished up just now. It's been a fun adventure through Norse mythology and twisty-turny plots... so, without further ado, here are my reviews of all three books in the trilogy!

Actually, there is some further ado. I must disclose that Karissa and I share a publisher (Red Adept Publishing, which published my sci-fi books Artificial Absolutes and Synthetic Illusions), but neither asked me to review these books. I bought 'em with my own cash monies, and they are mine to review as I please.

Oh, and one more ado: There's a prequel novella to the series, Moonlight Falling, that I haven't read yet, but totally want to! 

And yet another ado: there are no spoilers in the reviews below, so read without fear!


Series Title: The Norse Chronicles
Author: Karissa Laurel
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing

Urban Fantasy



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 out!

Find it on Amazon.


Arctic Dawn, the second book in Karissa Laurel’s Norse Chronicles urban fantasy series, picks up where
Book 1, Midnight Burning, left off. After discovering that she’s the reincarnation of the ancient Norse sun goddess, Solina Mundy found herself entangled in a potentially world-ending battle between immortals. Now, after a harrowing fight that forced her to unleash her powerful-but-still-unfamiliar supernatural abilities, Solina just wants to lie low. But a stranger with an legendary weapon forces her out of hiding, and sending her back into the fray.

I loved the first book in this series, and the sequel did not disappoint. Ancient legends in a modern setting, intriguing characters and shocking plot twists – it’s like book candy, and I loved every page! Solina’s quick wit and relatable quirks make her such a fun narrator to follow, grounding the out-of-this-world plot in a way that makes it feel real, even though we’re talking about gods and goddesses and monsters and prophecies and such. She’s grown a bit as a character since she was introduced as a na├»ve newcomer in Book 1; now that she understands her place in the Norse world, she’s not afraid to take charge of her own fate.

Also returning are the swoon-y god of thunder, Thorin (not Thor, who perished in Ragnorak, but Thor’s son), who’s both a love interest and a source of conflict for Solina, and modern-day Valkyrie Skyla Ramirez, Solina’s best friend. The story has a lot of supporting characters, most of whom are drawn from Norse mythology, creating a colorful pantheon. Oh, and I should also mention, there are some pretty cool action scenes.

Anyway, if you like magical stories in the contemporary world, you should totally check this series out!

Find it on Amazon.


Molten Dusk is the final installment in Karissa Laurel’s Norse Chronicles urban fantasy
trilogy, and man, does this series end with a bang! Solina Mundy, a contemporary girl with a modest life who discovered that she was the reincarnation of the ancient Norse sun goddess, has had her world turned upside down in more than one way. Though she’s started to gain control over her supernatural abilities, a recent betrayal has left her shaken (I won’t say more, since it would ruin Book 2, Arctic Dawn, but suffice it to say that I messaged Karissa to say “Noooo how could you!!!” when I reached that part of the book!). She finds comfort in her growing relationship with Thorin, the god of war, and her friendship with Skyla, a modern-day Valkyrie.

Meanwhile, world-ending plots are still in motion—someone is trying to bring about a second Ragnorak. And Solina has the sneaking suspicion that it’s not just the obvious villain—someone on the inside has been feeding the enemy information. Done with hiding and letting others protect her, Solina takes matters into her own hands, searching for the enemy and trying to untangle their secrets. This book further expands upon the rich world-building developed in the first two books of the series, introducing new elements of the mythology and expanding on previous ones. The same can be said about the romance with the swoon-worthy Thorin…

Also included: battles with stone soldiers and trippy explorations of Norse realms.

Full of thrilling action scenes and unexpected twists, all building up to a climactic final battle, Molten Dusk is a truly satisfying conclusion to an awesome series.

Karissa lives in North Carolina with her kid, her husband, the occasional in-law, and a very hairy husky. Some of her favorite things are coffee, chocolate, and super heroes. She can quote Princess Bride verbatim. She loves to read and has a sweet tooth for fantasy, sci-fi, and anything in between. Sometimes her husband convinces her to put down the books and take the motorcycles out for a spin. When it snows, you'll find her on the slopes.

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