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10 May 2021

Excerpt: The Witch's Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

I am very excited today to be sharing an extract from The Witch's Heart by Genevieve Gornichec as part of the blog tour! I love it when stories play with Norse mythology, and once I get a copy this book will definitely be featuring in my Norse Gods guide on Instagram.

The Witch's Heart by Genevieve Gornichec book cover

When a banished witch falls in love with the legendary trickster Loki, she risks the wrath of the gods in this fierce, subversive debut novel that reimagines Norse mythology.

Angrboda's story begins where most witch tales end: with being burnt. A punishment from Odin for sharing her visions of the future with the wrong people, the fire leaves Angrboda injured and powerless, and she flees into the furthest reaches of a remote forest. There she is found by a man who reveals himself to be the trickster god Loki, and her initial distrust of him—and any of his kind—grows reluctantly into a deep and abiding love. 

Their union produces the most important things in her long life: a trio of peculiar children, each with a secret destiny, whom she is keen to raise at the edge of the world, safely hidden from Odin's all-seeing eye. But as Angrboda slowly recovers her prophetic powers, she learns that her blissful life—and possibly all of existence—is in danger. 

Angrboda must choose whether she'll accept the fate that she's foreseen for her beloved family—or rise to remake it.

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Excerpt


This is a scene between Angrboda and Loki, I think it perfectly captures Loki's mischievous side and as shocking as it is, it did give me a giggle.

One rainy night a short time later, Angrboda was sitting in her chair by the fire when Loki appeared at the mouth of her cave, drenched and stumbling. He closed the door behind him, facing away from her, his shoulders hunched and shaking. His hood was up. She could not see his face.

“Loki?” she asked hesitantly, standing. “What brings you here so late?”

He shuffled over and sat on the bench, put his head down on the table. His breath came in ragged, wet gasps, and his fists were clenched so hard that his knuckles were white.

Alarmed, Angrboda went over and sat on the bench beside him, carefully placing a hand on his shoulder. He twitched away and lifted his head a bit to reveal a small puddle of blood on the table. Angrboda paled and made to rip his hood back, but he put his head down on his arms and would not move.

“What did you do?” she asked him.

“Nothing,” he said, his voice muffled and odd. “Why do you assume that I did something?”

“Because ‘things’ are generally what you do. It seems to me in the time we’ve known each other that you can’t keep your mouth shut to save your life.” Her scowl deepened as she took note of the blood now seeping onto his forearms. “What happened?”

“Nothing.”

She put her hand on his shoulder again. “Let me see your face.”

“No.” Loki sat up, his features still hidden by the hood, and at this point Angrboda could see the blood soaking the front of his tunic. “Leave me be.”

“You wouldn’t have come all the way here in the first place if you wanted me to do that.”

“I had nowhere else to go,” he said, very quietly.

Angrboda threw the hood off his head and he turned his face away. She could feel his shoulder shaking feverishly under her hand, and she moved closer to him and said, “I cannot help unless you show me.”

At last, he turned to her so she could see the source of the blood: His mouth was a mangled mess, crudely stitched shut with a thick cord and without much care for evenness. He’d clawed about half the stitches out, and the bloody cord was dangling free on one side.

The breath left her as she stared first at the wounds and then at his green eyes, which were bloodshot and glassy as he looked back at her helplessly. Angrboda didn’t say anything more. She drew her knife—a recent gift from Skadi, a fine blade with an antler handle and a thick leather sheath that hung from her belt—and cut the dangling cord as close to his face as she could, and her nimble fingers began to gently pull the stitches out. Loki winced at her touch, his eyes watering, but he said nothing. When she was done, she had him hold a dry rag to his mouth to stanch the bleeding and told him she would be right back. He stared past her with glazed eyes and nodded.

The rain had let up a bit. She fetched two pails of water from the stream and poured one into her pot above the fire, and when it was hot, she wetted a clean linen scrap and dabbed silently at his mouth. This time, Loki did not so much as flinch.

“Shall I ask what they did to you,” she said at length, “or what you did to them to deserve it?”

“I made some mischief and fixed it, as I’m wont to do. But in the meantime, I simply could not stop myself from shooting my mouth off.” He rolled his eyes. “As you would say.”

She gave him a wan smile as she continued to dab his lips. “Shocking. What sort of mischief was this that you pulled?”

“You know of Thor’s wife, Sif? Well, while he was off drinking with the rest of the gods, I snuck into their chambers while she slept and cut her hair off. She didn’t so much as stir as I did it, but in the morning, you could hear her screaming all over Asgard. And then they heard me screaming as Thor chased me down and threatened to break every bone in my body if I didn’t fix it.”

Angrboda blinked and gestured for him to hold the rag to his mouth. “And why, exactly, would you do such a thing to her?”

“It was more a prank on Thor than a prank on her. He loved her hair.” Loki gave a shrug, but his voice sounded oddly pained as he added, “I thought it would be funny.”

“I question your sense of humor,” Angrboda said dryly. She crossed the room to her potions cabinet, where she got to work making a fresh healing salve. “Among other things. What happened next?”

“I lost a bet. I went to the dwarfs seeking new hair for Sif and got two more items out of the deal. Then I went to another pair of dwarfs and bet them they couldn’t make items as fine as the first set, but the gods liked the second set better. If it weren’t for my own boundless cleverness, I wouldn’t have a head right now.”

“How so?”

“I bet my head. They couldn’t have my neck, you see. So they settled on sewing my mouth shut with an awl.” 



8 comments:

  1. Sounds like an interesting one! I love the cover too.

    Anika | chaptersofmay.com

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  2. I love this style of book for pure escapism! Your review is great, defo checking this one out!

    Rosie

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  3. Love the excerpt and it sounds really intriguing. Maybe I'll check this out as I wait for Loki on Disney+ haha. Thanks for sharing the excerpt!

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  5. I haven't heard of this but it sounds good! I haven't read many books on Norse myth, should change that.

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  6. I love all things Norse mythology (hello, Neil Gaiman) so this sounds like something I'd enjoy for sure. Plus I always see Loki as Tom Hiddleston, so happy days :)

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  7. This one sounds so interesting. I'm adding it to my TBR!

    Lois | https://loisreadsbooks.com

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