The Valkyrie by Charlotte Vassell

The Valkyrie - Charlotte Vassell

Book Blurb:

Glory’s job is to lead Valkyrie Unit 401 as they reap the souls of dead soldiers and take them to the Norse afterlife. That’s all fine and dandy when you haven’t got a raging hangover and the apocalypse to deal with. There’s also her psycho ex who won’t leave her best friend alone, a missing team mate, and a tonne of paper work to do. Follow Glory as she tries to save the world and her own dignity.


My Thoughts:

I decided to read and review this book because I like humor, mythology, and urban fantasy. I looked at the related website and it seemed to have a flavor that I would like and it looked like it would be funny. I also looked forward to reading about a Valkyrie as that isn’t a character I come across that often. As it turned out, I didn’t really enjoy it as much as I expected. The book was full of sarcasm, which I could certainly appreciate, but I didn’t really find it particularly funny. I was actually somewhat confused as to what was going on for a good portion of the story.

The characterization of Glory and her friends as Valkyries fell flat. We are told what they are but you don’t really get any significant scenes of them being a Valkyrie. The only thing they really did as Valkyries was plan the next big war so they can reap the souls of the soldiers. It seemed they needed to get as many as possible.  Not sure really why they needed them. Glory is also supposed to be the head of Valkyrie Unit 401, but I had no sense of her being the leader of anything.

Considering the book is supposed to be humorous, I was surprised at how melancholy the beginning felt and how jaded Glory seemed to be. Glory and her Valkyrie housemates popped pills, drank a lot of alcohol, snarked a lot, and didn’t seem to enjoy their existence much. The story does reveal why Glory gets that way and how she changes by the end of the book. Her character does show growth, but there are also things she does that made me think, “Why the hell did she do that?”  For example, at one point, Glory kills another immortal. I won’t say who so I don’t spoil it but it seemed really sudden and I didn’t feel there was enough motivation or reason why she would do this. It also seemed crazy simple for her to kill this person. A simple quick stab with a simple knife, not even a special super-duper knife made with some kind of magic or god-killing property.  Immortal gods and goddesses are usually portrayed as really hard to kill. I don’t know how they could last for millennia if they are so easy to knock off.  So that was another characterization fail for me.    

Then there is Apollo. At first he seemed like a total philandering jerk, but then you start to see another softer side to him. But then his personality changes again and he starts to act kind of psycho. As the story moved toward the end, I was flabbergasted at how it looked like it was going to end and was about to throw my kindle against the wall  (well, actually a proxy book—can’t hurt my precious kindle!) then something happens to spare my wall from damage. Phew! That was close. Thinking back on it though, I actually cannot remember exactly how this book ended (I had to go take another look see to remind myself) so I guess it didn’t really make much of an impression on me. I do remember the implied ending before the twist.

This book reminded me of a mythological Peyton Place. It was a soap opera of devious calculating gods and goddesses of multiple pantheons (though mostly Norse and Greek) bent on manipulation, betrayal, and backstabbing to achieve their own agendas--pretty much how gods are usually portrayed, I guess. There aren’t really any mortals in this story to speak of. One or two appear briefly in the story but it is primarily just about gods and goddesses.

Besides the lack of characterization, some of the issues I had with this book were mechanical such as typos and punctuation. First the typos, of which there were more that I would find appropriate in a published work. It really needs another proofread. There was one particular word “draw” that was used to mean “drawer” and occurred frequently and repeatedly. It happened so much that I started to wonder if it is British slang I am not familiar with. An internet search didn’t find evidence of this and there were a couple of instances of the correct word being used so I am considering this a chronic typo unless I learn otherwise.

Secondly, the punctuation was lacking. I’m not a pro at it and generally not too picky as I know it can be a fluid thing. As long as it reads smoothly, I’m good. But when it’s lacking, it makes for difficult or confusing reading and becomes an issue. There was quite a bit of what I felt were run-on type sentences that would have benefited from a pause or stop to make it easier to read. Commas after an introductory word were mostly missing and that really drove me bat guano crazy. The punctuation issues didn’t make for smooth reading.

So overall, I had to really push myself through the first part of this book. It did pick up a bit later but I still wasn’t being pulled through it. At some point in the book I actually put it down to read something else. The story just wasn’t engaging me. I was disappointed in the lack of humor that I was expecting and there was a lack of characterization of Glory and her friends as Valkyries. The story felt confusing at times and the mechanical errors distracted me. There is a lot of cussing which didn’t bother me—just a warning for those who don’t like it.  

I did really enjoy the mythological aspect and the interaction of all the gods and goddesses. The name Glory, and the names of her Valkyrie friends Liberty and Honour, ended up having some meaning to the story at the end which was interesting.  This book’s narrative and dialogue are very British, which I enjoyed though occasionally I had to look up a word or two. I have no idea if this is a standalone story or part of a future series.  Though it seemed mostly wrapped up at the end, there also seemed to be an opening for a continuing story.


I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review

Heat Level: Fade to black - sex scenes are implied and happen off screen.
Word count: ~74,000
Kindle Locations: 4660
Story text ends at 99%