I bought this boxed set because I’d come across C. Gockel in a short story anthology and liked the writing and the world.
I’ve never reviewed a boxed set before. As I just finished the first part, Wolves: I Bring the Fire Part I, I thought I should jot down my thoughts as I go. The first installment in this series definitely is an installment. Veterinarian student Amy Lewis encounters the Aesir Loki, on Midguard/Earth to find information related to saving his sons by Sigyn from the void where Odin sent them in punishment for their democratic politics.
That’s alot, isn’t it? A strength of this series is that there is a well-crafted world here, where Gockel has taken Norse myths and given them her own tweak. It’s particularly cool how Amy and the other humans are constantly comparing Loki to comics-Loki and movie-Loki, etc.
But as I said, this is an installment. There’s a lot of learning about some of Loki backstory, a fun jaunt to visit an elf queen with Amy’s grandmother, Beatrice, who I adore and am sad is not featured in the second book. And there’s a nascent romance between Amy and Loki. This is probably the strangest paranormal romance dance I’ve ever read– we keep getting glimpses of Loki’s prior loves (Anganboda and Sigyn) and nary a kiss for quite a long time. (In fact this is quite chaste…all the major stuff happens off camera and Loki mostly kisses Amy’s hand, knuckles or forehead for the first two books)
And then the book ends. Loki’s sons’ situation is not resolved. Loki’s time on Midgard is not resolved. The romance is not resolved. Amy’s fate is left as a cliffhanger. Let me just say I’m glad I got this as a boxed set because if I had bought this as a standalone novel it might have run up against my pet peeve of purposeful, obvious cliffhangers that end a novel without anything at all resolved.
And also its written in the present tense. This might not bother you at all, but it kept tripping my writer-brain awareness which was annoying, but not a deal breaker. My own personal taste for fantasy/UF/Paranormal is not present tense.
The second book veers away from Amy. We get the introduction of Agent Steve Rogers who is part of ADUO, the gov’t organization trying to deal with more and more World gates opening in Chicago letting in monsters like wyrms and trolls. We get alot of Loki backstory, and a continuing, teasing dance between Loki and Amy while Amy becomes less an actor in the story and more of a sidekick.
In the third book, Amy almost completely fades away. It’s Loki and his quest to control Cera, this sentient powerful magic thingy coupled with bursts of Agent Roger and various other military and police handling monsters. This is still interesting and fun in an action way (plastic explosive laced goat meat!) but I missed Amy. I missed her as an active part of the narrative rather than just a repository for Loki’s feelings and Rogers’ worry.
The final little short story/novelette at the end of this Box Set (In the Balance) actually brought back Amy to the forefront of the narrative– which made me like the entire box set more. It also lets her experience “other” Lokis in a multi-world/parallel reality kind of way that was interesting.
The end was abrupt again (this is apparently a thing in this series) and set up more story to come. while I enjoyed this box set, I think I might be done with this series. This is a matter of personal taste, however. I like emotional character arcs that…..end. I like relationships with some sort of closure. There are series that go on and on that I love, but I feel like each novel in those series is a complete story, where this Box set reads more like one really long, marathon novel that got chopped into three pieces. I did read the stand alone (same world) Soul Marked book by this author set in a world after Loki brings on Ragnarok to Chicago and enjoyed it more. Possibly because its a full story in one novel with a conclusion both to the “story problem” and also the main relationship.
Like I said, a matter of taste.