Claws of Midgard by Des M. Astor
3 stars – Okay, But Not My Style
Once again on the hunt for new content to review for indie authors, I turned to a website for ARC readers. I filtered to Young Adult Fantasy “to be released” and found this book. Since I like Norse mythology, I committed to it. I started reading on October 3, 2022.
Finished reading on October 11, 2022.
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Not What I Typically Enjoy
Set in the modern day with the conveniences of phones and nightclubs and motorcycles, the world is aware of all supernatural creatures and lives in harmony with them. Werewolves, vampires, dragons, fae, and more mingle together with humans, and it seems that the city of Wyrmbite is in a time of peace, but all is not well. Odin, along with his raven-vampires, Huginn and Muninn, is working to bring about Ragnarok so the vampire kind can rise to power and take humans and werewolves alike as their blood slaves. Working against them is a motley crew of do-gooders, headed by the Lord Wolf, Fenryr.
Even after reading the first page of this book, I knew it probably wouldn’t score higher than three stars in my eyes—not because of the quality of the writing or anything, but because it’s not the type of story that I enjoy reading. I continued reading until the end because of the promise I made, but I was misled by the description, so this will be in my review.
My preference for stories with supernatural elements is those in which the unknown becomes known. This is why I like books and TV shows like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Lucifer, and The Vampire Diaries. The main character (or one of the main characters) doesn’t know about the supernatural world at the beginning, and their journey is entwined with learning about the new world. In this book, it is modern day, and every character within the story already knows everything about the world, so either the reader is confused, or the author is forced to provide major exposition, which is not to my taste.
I understand that some people may like stories like this, where the world is already built and they can jump in with an understanding of how the society works, or they don’t care about the politics and simply want to follow the story, but it’s not for me.
Similarly, I didn’t like that the werewolves become wolfmen rather than full wolves and that they—and all other supernatural beings—have claws even in human form. There is a kitsune character who, even in human form, has several tails, which I can see might be interesting and unique, but to me just feels like toeing the line of furry territory.
So far, my favourite character is Loki because he reminds me of a mix between Lucifer (from the Netflix series) and Fred & George from Harry Potter. I especially loved his line, “while I look and sound scary, I’m really just several ferrets in a trench coat,” which was quite hilarious. Among the other characters: Fenryr, Eldingar, Mia, Rune, Kaida, Atzi, and Thyra, none really stood out to me, though I enjoy Rune because he reminds me a bit of Magnus Bane from The Mortal Instruments series, being a super-powerful nightclub owner. I love the imagery used for Thyra in her moth form (she is a faerie and therefore a shapeshifter) because I can really picture it, but I don’t know how I feel about every character having claws instead of regular fingernails. The aesthetic is also too overly punk for me, and it seems like every other character is layered top to bottom in piercings, which feels like stereotyping to me. Plus, it seemed like every character also had animal plushies. I’m not sure if that’s just a thing of this world (if they have any benefit or whatever), but I just found it odd that nearly every main character had them.
This book is obviously for a mature audience, as there is much swearing, gore, and sexual content, though there are warnings at the beginning of the book for that. Each of the sex scenes (one straight couple and one lesbian couple) take place in chapters 43 and 44, and since they weren’t in my interest, I skipped them. Overall, the quality of the writing isn’t bad, but it isn’t the best I’ve read, and there are quite a few parts where the wording/word flow grates on me. I could read the book without complaint, so I’d say it was still quite good, but as an editor and writer myself, I would’ve cut out a lot of unnecessary verbiage. Still, the scenes were easy to visualize, and I was entertained by the action scenes.
I’m not sure who I would recommend this book to, as even though I love the unique Norse take on vampires and werewolves, I’d say that it just wasn’t for me.
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