Forest Child

Forest ChildForest Child by Heather Day Gilbert
Series: Vikings of the New World Saga #2
Genres: Historical
Published by WoodHaven Press on November 1, 2016
Pages: 290
Also by this author: Miranda Warning

 

Publisher’s Summary:

Viking warrior. Dauntless leader. Protective mother.

Determined to rise above her rank as the illegitimate “forest child” of Eirik the Red, Freydis launches a second voyage to Vinland to solidify her power and to demand the respect she deserves. She will return home with enough plunder to force her brother, Leif, to sell her the family farm in Greenland.

But nothing can prepare her for the horrors she must confront in Vinland…and nothing can stand in her way when her family is threatened.

In her race to outrun the truths that might destroy her, Freydis ultimately collides with the only enemy she cannot silence—her own heart. 

Historically based on the Icelandic Sagas, Forest Child brings the memorable, conflicted persona of Freydis Eiriksdottir to life. 

I have been waiting eagerly for the second installment of this saga, and I can easily say, I was not disappointed one bit! It’s hard to put my feelings for this book into words – Freydis’s story evoked so many strong emotions that words seem paltry in comparison. This brave story held me captive from page one.

Freydis, at once both wild and fragile, drew me into her story with her proud self-reliance. Contrary to thinking that I might not have anything in common with this warrior woman, more at peace in the forest with a dagger in hand, my heart found in her a kindred spirit. How often do we mistakenly hold those who love us at arm’s length, feeling unworthy of such a love? Not only does Freydis feel unworthy of her husband Ref’s love, but she is sure that she will never be capable of accepting the love of Gudrid’s God, He who seems to ask so much of her in return. It is much easier for her to hold on to the hate, anger and justification for her actions, than it is to admit her need. Freydis is a complex character, with many facets – the juxtaposition of warrior and wife is one she cannot seem to balance – she must be all warrior in order to never appear weak, yet recognizes that being a wife, woman and mother is as equally daunting as going into battle.

Contrary to thinking that I might not have anything in common with this warrior woman, more at peace in the forest with a dagger in hand, my heart found in her a kindred spirit.

The setting is vivid and alive. The hardships, and often danger, that they faced in these times add a heightened sense of the setting and time period. The details of how the Vikings lived – how they ate, their homes, clothing and adornments, their fierce pride of family legacy and their strong love and loyalty – all are touched on here with a deft hand, providing the reader with fascinating and authentic details. No details are sugar-coated; their lives were hard, dangerous, and often violent, but I never once felt like anything went overboard or went into more detail than necessary.

No details are sugar-coated; their lives were hard, dangerous, and often violent, but I never once felt like anything went overboard or went into more detail than necessary.

Even though this is a historical novel, issues relevant to readers today, especially marriage, family and feelings of unworthiness are a vital part of this story. There is such a tension found within these scenes, compounded by the exquisite tenderness in the scenes between Freydis and Ref. My heart ached and cheered for them in turns – I admit, I haven’t read about a fictional couple yet this year that put my heart through the wringer as these two did. What a heartbreaking turn of events, yet what a gorgeous resolution readers will discover here. And while nothing ever pushed the boundaries, I did appreciate how realistically their marriage is portrayed.

Even though this is a historical novel, issues relevant to readers today, especially marriage, family and feelings of unworthiness are a vital part of this story.

Certainly for readers who liked book one, God’s Daughter, I highly recommend continuing the saga with Freydis’s story. And if you haven’t read book one yet, I highly recommend them both! Though Forest Child probably could be enjoyed as a stand-alone, I do feel that I had such a strong connection with her because I met her first in God’s Daughter. I am a huge fan of Heather Day Gilbert’s writing, especially the characters she has created and how they become so real to me. In Forest Child, she has truly outdone herself. I can easily say it is my favorite book of hers to date, and it has a permanent spot on my keeper shelf.

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