Thank you, Tamara Goranson, NetGalley, and One More Chapter Books for the opportunity to read this book! It was released yesterday, July 22nd!
The Voyage of Freydis by Tamara Goranson immediately sparked my interest! First. just look at that gorgeous cover! Second, I am all about the mythology/historical retellings at the moment. If you aren’t aware, Freydis is the sister of THE Leif Erikson. You know, that guy who landed in the Americas long before Columbus was even born! Also, the daughter of Erik the Red! The Sagas briefly mention Freydis and she is always described as fierce. In this book, we are immediately introduced to her as a young woman married to Thorvald who constantly abuses her. She is determined to be free of his grasp and explore new worlds like her brother.
Trigger Warnings: SO MUCH domestic abuse, rape, miscarriage, pregnancy loss, racism, homophobia
I have been thinking about how I would write this review all night. I am going to start with that the first 200 pages are just straight abuse. I am not exaggerating. It is nonstop, day after day. It is brutal and hard to read. With the help of friends, she escapes. Unfortunately, that help comes with a price as everyone around her suffers. Again, not exaggerating. I could understand her fear and PTSD. There are moments when she shows unbelievable strength, only to be crippled with fear the next. The one thing that made me pause when there are discussions of the abuse is that her husband is gay and according to Freydis, that is why he beats her. However, from a little research, there is no mention of homosexual relationships in Norse history. As long as a person married and procreated, their business was their own. They could be brought to the law if they refused to marry for the sake of the said relationship but Homosexuality didn’t become a common mention until Christianity appeared. So it made me pause when it was mentioned that he was abusive because he was gay.
There is mention of racism when the Norse comes across the Indigenous peoples, but I did love the relationship that bloomed between Achak and Freydis. Now, you may think, oh well at least she isn’t abused anymore. Well, the worst just keeps happening to her and the ending is brutal. However, the ending made sense to me considering the time but it could be detrimental to someone who is in an abusive relationship. The last aspect I will mention is the random time jumps. In the middle of a paragraph, the book would say, “some weeks later…” It just didn’t help the flow of the novel. It didn’t help that I didn’t feel connected to the characters. There wasn’t much development or personalization. I think there is a lot of potential here. I went back and forth on how to score this book and unfortunately, I think I have settled on 2 out of 5 stars.