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Friday, July 19, 2013

Review: The Lost Sun by Tessa Gratton

Fans of Neil Gaiman's American Gods and Holly Black's The Curse Workers will embrace this richly drawn, Norse-mythology-infused alternate world: the United States of Asgard. 

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.

Tessa Gratton's The Lost Sun is a beautifully written and imagined introduction to The United States of Asgard series. This tale of two teens with interwoven destinies unfolds with an insistent pull from Gratton's steady hand and, before the reader realizes what's happened, they're completely under the spell of this alternate universe and the characters they've come to love.

The Lost Sun follows Soren, a born with the gift, or curse, of berserking in this blood, and Astrid, a gifted prophetess like her mother before her. The country is thrown in chaos when the Sun God, Baldur, goes missing. When Astrid tells Soren that she's believes she knows where to find Baldur, they set out on a cross-country road trip to save him. However, what begins as a simple recovery mission turns into something much more complex than either anticipated. Along the way, they discover truths about themselves, form bonds and relationships that can never be broken, and, ultimately, embrace destinies that will define the courses if their lives.

The alternate world in Gratton's novel incorporates many of the key players in Norse mythology. Though I know very little about Norse mythology, I recognized all of the borrowed characters and Gratton clearly defined the personalities and dominions of each so I never felt that I was missing any important details. In comparison to Roman and Greek mythology, there is a wildness and obvious danger to Norse mythological figures. I really, really loved what this brought to the otherwise contemporary setting in the novel. Having this mix of contemporary and aged, or, perhaps, ageless in the case of gods and goddesses, created a world that was both nostalgically familiar and entirely new. 

While I have heard complaints of an insta-romance in The Lost Sun, I have to say that I completely disagree with this claim. From the start, Soren has strong feelings toward Astrid, but he never once falls into being some type of lovesick, sappy character. Soren and Astrid's journeys are tied together and they both carry gifts from the gods, as a berserker and a prophetess, so they have a bond forged of unique understanding that adds a deeper layer to the relationship. 

I didn't expect to have the added pull of a roadtrip to contribute to the charm and magic of this novel, but that's exactly what I found. There's just something about a roadtrip that bonds characters (and readers to those characters) that simply can't be forged any by any other method. I am so thankful that The Lost Sun is the first in a series because I am entirely too attached to the four main characters in this novel; I'm just not ready to let them go.

Read The Lost Sun. Whether you loved, liked, disliked, or never read Gratton's first books is irrelevant: The Lost Sun will enchant you and leave you wanting more.

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Random House, June 2013, Hardcover, ISBN:9780307977465, 368 pgs.


  1. This book sounds very interesting and I have never heard of it before. Great review! Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  2. I've always loved the way Tessa handles romance (and kissing) in her fiction. Would love to see how the relationship between Soren and Astrid plays out.

  3. That cover makes me sad, but I'm hopeful the rest of the book makes up for it. I've only read one other book that dabbled with Norse mythology, but I didn't end up liking the book. I'm really curious to see how this one plays around with it.


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