The Linden’s Red Plague (The Valkyries)

Written by Ann Chamberlin
Review by Linnea Tanner

Ann Chamberlin brings the Nordic legends of a banished Valkyrie, Brynhild, and hero, Siegfried, to life in the historical fantasy, The Linden’s Red Plague. Brynhild awakens from a deep sleep that Odin induced by stabbing her with a sleep-thorn because of her disobedience. He condemned her to sleep until “sons are sires,” and she meets a man her equal. Unaware of how many years have passed, Brynhild finds herself on Iceland’s treeless, volcanic island and discovers a sword she recognizes from her past. Brynhild meets the sword’s owner, Siegfried, who has a scar of a linden leaf on his back. After disclosing their pasts, they realize that Brynhild saved Siegfried’s pregnant mother after his father was slain in battle. Their subsequent adventure together reveals whether Odin has sent Siegfried as a hopeful omen or as a curse to claim Brynhild’s maidenhood and thus her magical youth and strength.

As this is the second book in The Valkyries series, I strongly recommend that you read the first book to familiarize yourself with the backstory. Author Chamberlin’s prose is rich in sensory descriptions of the landscape and everyday tasks, with unique metaphors. Weaving in Nordic mythology provides insight into ancient beliefs and culture. The tale is told from Brynhild’s first-person perspective until midstream, where it diverts to the point of view of Gudrun, Siegfried’s love interest, to explain what happens to him after he leaves Brynhild, promising to return. The abrupt switch in viewpoint jolts the storyline and downplays the role of Siegfried in the tale.

The Linden’s Red Plague might appeal to readers who enjoy Nordic mythology and legends.