The Lost Sun by Tessa Gratton
In the United States of Asgard, the old gods walk among the people. Thor Thunderer does battle with the mountain trolls, keeping them back from the cities. Odin presides over the House of Congress. Loki can be found anywhere and everywhere there is mischief to made or disguises to be had. And every year, on Baldur’s Night, the people of new Asgard breathlessly await the favored god of light’s return from the six months he spends in the underworld.
Soren Bearskin is a berserker. It’s in his blood, always lurking just beneath his skin, a buzzing fever he fights every day to contain. It keeps him apart from his classmates – even if Soren didn’t distance himself from them to keep them safe, the arrow tattooed on his cheek marking him as one of Odin’s own ensures everyone gives him plenty of space. After all, no matter how hard he fights it, Soren knows he can’t fight fate. He, too, is destined for horrible greatness the day the fever breaks loose – just like his father, who lost himself and his life to the berserker rage when Soren was eight.
Astrid Glyn is the daughter of a great seeress, also destined for greatness. She, too, lost a parent – her mother vanished five years ago, presumed murdered. All Astrid has left of her mother are the black pearls around her neck – and the ability to see how the threads of fate twist the lives around her.
But when Baldur the Beautiful fails to rise from his ashes beneath the New World Tree in Philadelphia, chaos erupts in the United States of Asgard. When it is revealed that the ashes everyone thought were those of the god were replaced with those of a pig, Odin offers a boon to any who can bring his missing son home. Soren wants nothing more than to have the berserker fire in his chest put out, and Astrid wants desperately to find her lost mother. Together, they set out on a quest across the United States of Asgard to find the lost god of light. Adventure, visions, trolls, gods in disguise, and unexpected allies await them – but both Soren and Astrid are keeping secrets that may change the fate of all the world.
This has been in my to-read pile for a long time, and I wish I’d picked it up sooner! Author Tessa Gratton’s short stories are featured in The Curiosities along with Maggie Stiefvater and Brenna Yovanoff (together, the three are critique partners and The Merry Sisters of Fate, short story writers extraordinaire), and I’ve been meaning to read her novels for ages. Fabulous world-building, lush writing, heartrendingly flawed characters, and a plot that is a slow simmer until it explodes with action all combine to make an all-consuming reading experience. If you love Norse mythology, American Gods by Neil Gaiman, epic road trips, the Thor movies, or really enjoy alternate histories like The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim, be sure to check this out! And, when you’re done, snag The Strange Maid, the sequel that’s available now.