Seventeen-year-old Soren Bearskin is trying to escape the past. His father, a famed warrior, lost himself to the battle-frenzy and killed thirteen innocent people. Soren cannot deny that berserking is in his blood--the fevers, insomnia, and occasional feelings of uncontrollable rage haunt him. So he tries to remain calm and detached from everyone at Sanctus Sigurd's Academy. But that's hard to do when a popular, beautiful girl like Astrid Glyn tells Soren she dreams of him. That's not all Astrid dreams of--the daughter of a renowned prophetess, Astrid is coming into her own inherited abilities.
When Baldur, son of Odin and one of the most popular gods in the country, goes missing, Astrid sees where he is and convinces Soren to join her on a road trip that will take them to find not only a lost god, but also who they are beyond the legacy of their parents and everything they've been told they have to be.
The United States of Asgard series has to be one of the most unappreciated gems in YA that is currently available to readers. Tessa Gratton, a favourite author of mine who wrote the poe-esque Blood Magic and it's sweeping companion Blood Keeper does a number of things in her writing that I relish: she picks subject matter that's fresh or takes familiar subjects and breathes fresh life into them, she writes ballsy female characters who are a force to be reckoned with, completely unapologetic about anything they do but who are still wonderful and heartbreakingly lovable, she writes brutal scenes that are dark, powerful and which feed my bloodthirsty readers soul, and most of all, her stories remind me of classic works I fell in love with at various points during my years of university English classes.
The Lost Sun is no exception to these rules. A bizarre tale to try and whittle down into an elevator pitch, it would be more telling to sell it as Myth and Gods for readers who grew up on Rick Riordans' books, or as a YA old English retelling. Both are true and both are more likely to give you a sense of the kind of epic adventure and style you'll be enjoying more than trying to parse the story into a condensed blurb. Suffice it to say, Gratton makes her alternate USA so believable and intriguing you will be caught up in the details of it very quickly.
Normally I find alternative world stories a bit gimmicky, and have trouble with my suspension of disbelief, and although I love Gratton's work, I would be lying if I didn't tell you I was worried when she first started talking about this book online. Although I bought it as soon as it released last year, it languished on the bottom of my To-Be-Read pile for several months before I got up the nerve to give it a try. However, her modernization of Viking/Scandinavian legend and myth is brilliantly done. The way she has woven the gods into everyday life, how she's worked out the details of faith, dedication and fate, and more to the point, how she illustrates it with Soren and Astrid is what sets this book apart for me.
The pacing and the tone, which remind me so very much of old English stories I read in school, like Chaucer or the Greek tales like the Odyssey will hopefully start the love of classic reading young, for a new set of readers. There is a lot to be said for a tale that is told with purpose as opposed to a quick or light read, it makes for reading you can really spend time rolling over your tongue, re-playing in your imagination and re-reading to eke more details from later. The Lost Sun is a many layered thing, and it makes me look forward intensely to the rest of the series and where Gratton will go with it next.
I will stop here, because I want for you to be happily surprised by the details, and because I know you'll love it as I did. Therefor I predict you'll be heading out to add it to your collection very shortly, if for no other reason then because part two comes out a week from tomorrow and it is even better than part the first. So really, you'd be crazy if you took a pass on these books.
Join me tomorrow, when Tessa Gratton stops by the blog to talk about her research for the series, and then again on Wednesday for my review of The Strange Maid, book II in the United States of Asgard series.
The Lost Sun, by Tessa Gratton
Published by Random House, June 2013