After reading so many Greek mythology retellings (Ariadne, The Song of Achilles, and Circe), reading The Witch’s Heart was an excellent way to sate my desire for mythological retellings when tired of hearing about Zeus and what a giant asshole he is.
The Witch’s Heart is, instead, a Norse mythology retelling, centered on Angrboda, Loki’s mate and mother of monsters Fenrir, Jormungand, and Hel. Her story is similar to that of many women’s in history – one of an overlooked and forgotten mother who has enough rage in her heart to raze entire cities to the ground when pushed far enough.
Anyone familiar with Loki (and not the obnoxious Tom Hiddleston Disney version) knows that he is an utter and complete asshole and a master manipulator. So it comes as no surprise that he’s not the good guy in this tale, but rather an accessory to Angrboda’s rage, which comes forth when her children are threatened, provoked, and talked down to. Each one is different in their own monstrous way – Hel is a goddess of the Underworld, Fenrir a direwolf, and Jorgunmand a giant serpent prophesied to devour the world – but Angrboda loves them all regardless and brought them forth out of love and loyalty to Loki, who inevitably betrays her.
This telling of Ragnarok was enlightening, adventurous, and captivating. I enjoyed going along for the ride as Angrboda and Skadi kicked ass and took names. This story had some bite to it that Circe, The Song of Achilles, and Ariadne couldn’t compare to. Like adding salt to the pasta water, The Witch’s Hunt just had that little something extra in that it didn’t hold itself too reverently.
I highly recommend The Witch’s Heart, especially for those interested in mythological retellings from any culture.
Dates read: September 27-28, 2021