Mythology has long fascinated me as a source of inspiration for novels. I devoured them when I was younger, mainly anything that drew from Greek myths because the first book I remember reading was Edith Hamilton’s Mythology in school.
Julia Ember’s The Seafarer’s Kiss and now The Navigator’s Touch draws from the Norse pantheon and features gods, sea creatures, and Viking shield maidens, all fiercely written and strongly upheld on the page as they storm into adventure across ice fields, through frozen seas, and more.
Published: 13 September 2018
Publisher: Duet Books
Category: Fantasy/LGBT (F/F)/Young Adult/Mythology
After invaders destroyed her village, murdered her family, and took her prisoner, shield-maiden Ragna is hungry for revenge. A trained warrior, she is ready to fight for her home, but with only a mermaid and a crew of disloyal mercenaries to aid her, Ragna knows she needs new allies. Guided by the magical maps on her skin, battling storms and mutiny, Ragna sets sail across the Northern Sea.
She petitions the Jarl in Frisia for aid, but despite Ragna’s rank and fighting ability, the Jarl sees only a young girl, too inexperienced to lead, unworthy of help. To prove herself to the Jarl and win her crew’s respect, Ragna undertakes a dangerous expedition. But when forced to decide between her own freedom and the fate of her crew, what will she sacrifice to save what’s left of her home?
Inspired by Norse mythology and J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, this companion novel to The Seafarer’s Kiss is a tale of vengeance, valor, honor, and redemption.
Content Warnings: from the publisher’s website (interludepress.com/content-warnings):
- Part 1, Chapter 4: Murder of a child, beating with a belt
- Part 1, Chapter 11: Discussion of torture
- Part 2, Chapter 1: Animal death, graphic depiction of battle injuries
- Part 2, Chapter 4: Depiction of a human-eating monster, graphic execution
- Part 2, Chapter 5: Imprisonment of children
General warnings: violence, depiction of kidnapping
Rating: 4 Stars
Note: I have not yet read The Seafarer’s Kiss. This review is based solely on the content within The Navigator’s Touch without regard for character actions in previous works.
Fraught with tension, The Navigator’s Touch takes Ragna, Ersel, and the crew of their commandeered ship through treacherous seas and across the frozen land on a quest. Ragna wants vengeance for her family and to save whatever is left of it; the men, the mercenaries, gold she promised to secure their tenuous loyalty; and Ersel, the opportunity to see a world unlike the one she was born to.
Following them across the sea, through narrow straights full of icebergs that could destroy them at any moment, under the threat of Loki on Ersel’s trail, was epic. There were flashbacks to Ragna’s village before it was raided, her imprisonment by Haakon’s men (the previous leader of her crew), her origin with Ersel, and more. This informs the reader of Ragna’s motivations and why she’s willing not only to sail through such treacherous waters, but to take on the added danger of a crew that may or may not turn on her at any moment.
As much fear, worry, tension, and other horrible things as there are in this book, there were also moments of respite. Ragna and Ersel share some moments that could almost be termed tender, though a relationship is not exactly how I would describe their situation. Perhaps it is the beginning of one, a foundation, because there is still much to learn, such as communication. Ragna takes liberities with decisions regarding Ersel’s abilities and while she attempts to make up for them later, her rashness is a violation of the freedom that Ersel has and needs as she makes her way into the world and away from the potential prison she faced at the hands of Loki back beneath the sea. There was something in the these occurrences that made me think these two would need to work a lot out before coupledom was something they could claim.
Besides the more severe parts of the books, there are also some moments of pure wonder on Ersel’s part as she travels inland for the first time and experiences things like seeing a horseshoe on a pony or touching a three-man-wide pine tree. Things that seem so simple to us, but to someone who’s life is based on the bottom of the North Sea are incredible and entirely new. Julia Ember conveyed Ersel’s joy, even told through Ragna’s perspective, in a lovely way.
There are many themes found within The Navigator’s Touch. There is love (in various forms), fear of mortality, vengeance, comradeship, sacrifice. These themes weave the characters together and, at times, away from each other, making for an engaging experience to read about.
The Navigator’s Touch is book two in The Seafarer’s Kiss series, but can be read as a standalone. Book one gives more background information on the relationship between Ersel the mermaid and Ragna the shield maiden, such as details on how they met, the origin of Ersel’s shape changing abilities, etc.
About the Author
Julia Ember is the author of The Seafarer’s Kiss and The Navigator’s Touch, as well as several novellas and short stories for young adults. Originally from Chicago, Julia now resides in Edinburgh, Scotland. Her hobbies include riding horses, starting far too many craft projects, and looking after her city-based menagerie of pets with names from Harry Potter. She regularly takes part in events for queer teens. A world traveler since childhood, she has now visited more than sixty countries.
Prize: one winner will receive an annotated paperback copy of both books in the series (Open INT)
Shanza Writes – Interview
Maiden of the Pages – Excerpt
A Book Addict’s Bookshelves – Excerpt
Amy’s Booket List – Interview
Confessions of a YA Reader – Spotlight
Cuz I’m a Nerd – Guest Post
The Hermit Librarian – Review
Declarations of a Fangirl – Guest Post
Dani Reviews Things – Review
To Be Read – Review
Lisa Loves Literature – Guest Post
Rockin’ Book Reviews – Review
Chapter by Chapter – Interview
BookCrushin – Guest Post
Rattle the Stars – Spotlight
Wishful Endings – Guest Post
BookHounds YA – Interview
Chapters through life – interview
Tween 2 Teen Book Reviews – Spotlight
Don’t Judge, Read – Review
Oh Hey! Books. – Guest Post
I received a copy of this book as part of the Chapter by Chapter Book Tour in exchange for an honest review.