Friday, January 25, 2013

Iduna's Apples, Jennifer Willis (5 stars)

Summary of Iduna's Apples
(from author's website)

Iduna’s Apples is the second book in the Valhalla series of urban fantasy/YA fiction.

Thor and his kin are depleted by the battle for the White Oak Yggdrasil and are in desperate need of Iduna’s apples—the sacred fruit that grants immortal strength and long life to the Norse gods.

But Iduna’s Grove in modern-day Norway comes into harvest only once every four hundred years—just in time for retreating glaciers to free the dreaded Frost Giants from their icy prison. The gigantic and eerily courteous Frost Giants hold the harvest ransom and demand wives: Freya, Saga, Heimdall’s girlfriend Maggie, and even teenaged Norse Witch Sally Dahl.

Will Heimdall and Thor track down the Frost Giants and the apples before succumbing to sudden mortality? Can Sally atone for accidentally calling up an army of old lady Berserkers to stand against Odin? Is that Thor in a wedding dress? And is there a darker, more sinister enemy on the loose, targeting both the Norse gods and their Frost Giant foes?

Also check out the online glossary of Valhalla characters, terms, places, and more!


Too often I love the first book in the series only to be disappointed by the second, or what I like to refer to as sequel slump. As excited as I was to read Iduna's Apples, the sequel to Valhalla (a 5-star read, see review here), I was nervous. Would I love it as much?

I opened the first page with a bit of trepidation. But my nervousness did not last long, because the story and characters pulled me right in.

The Norse gods of old are still living within the constraints of the human world. After a fierce battle at the end of Valhalla, they need the renewing lifeforce from their sacred fruit--Iduna's apples. Unfortunately, an old enemy stands in their way. One they thought was safely imprisoned and no longer a threat.

When Heimdall, Thor's brother, and his girlfriend, Maggie, go on vacation to his native Norway, the Frost Giants take them by surprise and kidnap Maggie. They need to grow their numbers and demand wives in exchange for the apples. As the gods become increasingly weaker, other long-forgotten enemies come forward. Will the gods be able to survive and keep their immortality? Can they keep their loved ones safe?

What I love best about this series... the humor. The scene where Thor disguises himself as a possible bride for the Frost Giants had me in stitches. Literally, I was laughing out loud. Jennifer Willis has an amazing ability to create vivid images, and she's equally gifted with action and humor scenes. Not a small feat.

I'm so excited for more books in this series, and I highly recommend both Valhalla and Iduna's Apples to all readers--not just the ones who love mythology and the young adult genre, but all readers who appreciate good writing, great story, and memorable characters.

Plus, Iduna's Apples raises a really intriguing question... if you were offered the chance at immortality, would you take it? The decision is not as cut and dry as one might think.

Rating: 5 stars

About Jennifer Willis

On the fiction side, I write kooky stuff -- frustrated witches, vampires, old gods having to get jobs as photocopier repairmen. It's simply my nature. Apparently, my work is in that popular YA/mainstream crossover category inside the urban fantasy genre, which is really just a happy accident.

I'm a native Virginian living in Oregon, and my fiction is frequently set in one of these locales.

As a freelance journalist and essayist, I specialize in sustainability, religion/spirituality, health, history, and living. I've written for The Oregonian, The Christian Science Monitor,, The Portland Tribune, The Writer, Ancestry Magazine, The Lund Report, The Jewish Review, Skirt!, Heeb,,, HGTV's, Spirituality & Health, Vegetarian Times, and other online and print publications at home and across the globe.

Oh, and I really like dogs. And trees. And bellydancing.

Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not guaranteed or requested; the opinions expressed are my own.


Elizabeth Seckman said...

A good review is priceless. Best of luck Jennifer.

Deniz Bevan said...

I always worry when I open the next book in a series, too!
This one sounds like lots of fun - I don't think I've ever read YA about the Norse gods before!