Thursday, October 29, 2015

Review: Avelynn

By Marissa Campbell
Published: September 8, 2015

This dazzling debut brings the Dark Ages to light and illuminates one Saxon noblewoman's romance with a Viking warrior and her struggle to find her path in a changing and dangerous world

869. For eighteen years, Avelynn, the beautiful and secretly pagan daughter of the Ealdorman of Somerset, has lived in an environment of love, acceptance, and equality. Somerset has flourished under twenty years of peace. But with whispers of war threatening their security, Avelynn's father makes an uncompromising decision that changes her life forever.
Forced into a betrothal with Demas, a man who only covets her wealth and status, Avelynn's perception of independence is shattered. With marriage looming, she turns to her faith, searching for answers in an ancient ritual along the coast, only to find Alrik The Blood-Axe and sixty Viking berserkers have landed.
In a year of uncertainty that sees Avelynn discover hidden powers, stumble into a passionate love affair with Alrik, and lead men into battle, Avelynn must walk a fine line as her deceptions mount and Demas' tactics to possess her become more desperate and increasingly brutal.
Avelynn and Alrik are caught in the throes of fate as they struggle to find the way back to themselves and onwards to each other.

My review:

Avelynn is an intelligent and headstrong young woman who believes she has some say over her future. She uses her intelligence to help her father and her people but she realizes just what her father thinks of her when he pushes her into a betrothal with Demas. Initially she just finds him annoying but as she gets to know him she realizes what a dangerous man he actually is. 

She is a pagan as her mother raised her to be and she keeps that quiet for the sake of her life but when she travels to the coast with a trusted druid priest she is spotted by a band of Vikings. Her life is spared by Alrik and the two are instantly attracted to each other. He dares her to meet him again in a month's time. Even though he is supposed to be an enemy of her people, Avelynn is drawn to him so she persists in meeting him in spite of the danger. The novel is more than a romance however as the two have very little page time together. Alrik is busy doing his brother's bidding and Avelynn has plenty of worries of her own. 

Avelynn is a strong heroine though she doesn't always think her actions through. I liked her and the determination and courage she displays in the face of hardship and misery. She really wants to protect her people and have her own life but she is constrained by her circumstances and the time she lives in. Her best friend Ealswith is a comfort as is her younger brother Edward. She also finds a new friend in Muirgen, an elderly pagan priestess who some call a witch.

The romance between Avelynn and Alrik is very much "instalove" or perhaps "instalust" that later becomes love and I didn't completely buy into it. The physical aspects of their relationship are portrayed more than meaningful connection or development between the two of them. I would have liked more depth from the villain of the novel too but he remained pretty one dimensional aside from a few surprises. Thankfully the novel's other merits appealed to me more. 

Avelynn is a historical novel with strong romantic elements (and some steamy scenes) that might appeal to fans of authors like Philippa Gregory and Marion Zimmer Bradley. The medieval setting is strongly evoked with descriptions of daily life as well as battle scenes and pagan practices. Both the Saxon and Viking cultures are explored and there are even some elements of magic. Overall I liked the novel mainly because of the protagonist and the historical setting which I found interesting. While there are some flaws, I still found the book to be an engrossing and enjoyable read. I don't know if there is a sequel in the works though the ending leaves room for one. I certainly wouldn't mind reading more.

Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley


  1. This is a new-to-me book, but I love Gregory's novels and since it's similar, I should check this one out. The medieval setting sounds pretty interesting! Thanks for putting this book on my radar. I hope you have a great weekend!

  2. The cover caught my eye when I saw it on your blog and I love reading about saxon/viking culture so I'll keep an eye out for it. I'm glad you enjoyed it for the most part.


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