Whispers of the Runes

Written by Christina Courtenay
Review by Helen Johnson

In 2021, Sara Mattsson, a York silversmith, pulls a seax – a short sword – from an archaeological dig. She reads its runic inscription and is catapulted into the 9th century. Cue for an epic romp as Sara meets Rurik, a shipwrecked Viking.

As a 21st-century woman, Sara must learn to cope with everyday living in the Viking age. Everything, from underwear to cleaning her teeth, is explored. Fortunately, Sara happens to be granddaughter of a Viking scholar, speaks Old Norse, and learns quickly. But what Sara really enjoys exploring is Rurik, a man with the honed, hardened body of Viking life, but surprisingly 21st-century views on consent and respect. Despite Rurik’s progressive character, the details of Viking life are solidly researched, and the encampment of the Great Heathen Army is vividly brought to life.

I have to say that some plot twists and misunderstandings that divide the couple tested my credibility. But this is not that sort of book. This is fun fantasy, for a girl to imagine some hot Viking re-enactment. Courtenay lovingly describing toned muscles, neatly combed hair, and the magnificent fitness of a Viking lover.