This Book Read Like A Dead Weight.
First review of the month of December and lets just say this was not the way I was hoping to start out the month. This review is over Weight of A Soul by Elizabeth Tammi which publishes December 3rd. I received this book on both Netgalley and as a phyiscal copy from its publisher Flux. Now here is one of the downsides of this hobby.... publishers say that they want honest reviews. And I strive to always be honest in whatever I put out there. And I have to remind myself that not every book I love, everyone else will.... and vice versa. So I strongly recommend everyone to take to Goodreads and check out other reviewer's opinions on this read because while I hands down wouldn't recommend this book to my mother... some people ranted and raved about it like it was the best thing since air. That being said. Let me tell you why this read may be my absolute least favorite of the year.
So because I believe in starting out strong and positive I'm going to talk about the two things I actually enjoyed about this book. One. This book was extremely well written. Tammi definitely worked hard to conjure a realistic and accurate description of a viking clan and their way of life. The research on the Gods featured in this book as well is very obvious as well. Which obviously took a good amount of time and a lot of thought as well. Both of which are very much apparent in the story. And two. I genuinely love the concept of this book and I was super psyched about the plot after reading the blurb. I cannot get enough of any sort of European mythology and when I received this title on Netgally I literally squealed. When I received in it person I danced.... yeah. That might be part of why this book was such a disappointment...
Now lets talk about what was wrong with this book. I will try and keep the spoilers to a minimum but I am finding when I dislike a book its much much much harder to not spoil things for people when I rant like I'm sure I will with this story. So fair warning now.
Lets start with the way the plot is structured. This book's plot is built off of Lena's sister murder. Which in this day and time is a fairly common occurrence. Side note before jumping in... Odin and Loki are at odds during this story. They are opposing Gods who want different things for humanity. I am really going to try and not speak of them while writing this because its complicated and I honestly struggled to retain the knowledge. Regardless... Lena convinces Amal (who is her best friend and her sister's fiancé) who can read runes to summon the goddess Hel (daughter of Loki) who is said to rule the Norse underworld in hopes to contact her sister. While speaking with Hel Lena learns that Odin has taken Fressa to Valhalla even though she didn't die in battle. Hel and Lena strike a bargain to find a soul of equal "weight" to send to Valhalla to replace her sister's so she can come back to the real world.... because according to Hel Fressa is an extremely important piece to a much larger puzzle. Now I state again I was all for this plot... until Lena actually began trying to attempt to find a soul to match Fressa's. Here the story begun to descend down hill as it was very clear in Hel's explanation what was to be expected. Lena's first soul offering wasn't horrible and I figured that she would be turned away at least once. So obviously she fails...but she doesn't think of the consequences of the kill itself. And that ends up rippling out into her world. Unfortunately it felt super out of character from what we had learned about Lena up to this point. At this point it is announced to Lena that her and Amal will be wed. That they were always meant to be wed. Because in this culture wedding is for power and not love... something Lena has obviously been aware of and raised to know. But she's obviously not happy as he was in love with her sister......... Lena begins to get sloppy now in her quest to get a soul for Hel and the plot nosedives. As she is then married and proceeds to then kill again and make mistake after mistake just by being thoughtless. Then what I am assuming was suppose to be a huge plot twist involving Loki and his encouraging Lena to bring her sister back. Long story short...... the obvious is finally revealed to Lena and the story proceeds to where her sister is alive and reunited with Amal. The End. The plot had the opportunity really stand out and shock when while reading it I was bored because every event was so freaking predictable. Even the "shocker" plot twist felt lack luster because almost too many hints were dropped through the book, that being said you really either need to know your Norse mythology or you could miss the hints. But even a person with very minimal knowledge would be able to pick up on a few of them with no trouble. This whole book just feel super flat when I should have been on the edge of my seat and while this is a fairly detailed breakdown of the book.... literally most of the story is Lena and Amal trying to figure out a way to not get married to each other.... and Lena doing nothing to avenge her sister or obtain a soul. My biggest issue with the plot though honestly is that Lena not once thinks about what will happen once her sister comes back to life. She assumes that life will go back to the way it was and that Fressa and Amal (even though her parents have already said they can't) will marry and everything would be peachy...... HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO REACT WHEN THE DEAD GIRL COMES BACK TO LIFE IF YOU CANNOT TELL ANYONE ABOUT HEL AND LOKI?! This alone pulls us into the other reason this book just truly sucked for me.
Lena..... was just awful. Selfish is literally the first word that comes to mind during and after finishing this book to describe her. While the ending was meant to paint her as selfless.... once all the info was put into the world.... it was just bad. But she also spends the entire book not worrying about anyone else including Amal whose love of his life died and is now having to marry her sister. Every once in a while the author would attempt to pull Lena back and be like "Oh Amal loved her in a different way but still understands..." No it would last a second and it would go right back to Lena. How unfair it was that her sister was taken from her. How unfair it was that she couldn't be chieftess if she is unwed. How unfair it was the all the soul she brought Hel weren't enough. How unfair it was that she had to marry Amal who literally tells her he loved her first. It was eye roll after eye roll after eye roll for me and it was torture just keep hearing her complain and do NOTHING. Ugh....
Long story short... I gave this book a one star review on Netgalley and a two star review on Goodreads. This is the first time I have ever really been split on a book rating wise. I felt like this story really could have been great. But with the messy plot and horrible main character.... the attention to detail couldn't save it. So I would give this book a one and half stars only because the research put into this book really shines and that is my least favorite part of anything because it can be so time-consuming.... so that at least deserves a .5 addition to its low score. There will be a book two I believe that I will not be reading.
This all being said..... there were reviews in which people literally were blown so far away they gave the book five stars. So maybe it's just me. Take the risk read it yourself!
These pages take me places and I cannot wait to get as far away from Lena and this book as I possible can.
All the best and thank you once again!