Hello everyone – another book review. This time it is for Shield Maiden by Sharon Emmerichs which is due for release in 2023.
Having grown up hearing tales of her uncle, the great King Beowulf, Fryda’s one desire is to become a shield maiden in her own right. Yet a terrible childhood accident has left Fryda disabled – thus, she believes, thwarting her dream of becoming a warrior-woman for good. But still, somehow, she feels an uncontrollable power begin to rise within herself.
Meanwhile, a great celebration of Beowulf’s reign is underway, and Fryda’s house is soon overrun with foreign kings and chieftains. Amidst the drunken revelry, a discovery is made that threatens the safety of Fryda’s entire clan – and her own life. Enraged, Fryda resolves to fight for her people, no matter the cost… and all the while, her powers seem only to grow stronger.
But she is not the only one to feel its effects. For, buried deep in her gilded lair, a dragon is drawn to Fryda’s untamed power, and is slowly awakening from a long, cursed sleep…
So I haven’t enjoyed much YA fantasy romance recently. I’ve found issues of consent and grumpy male love interests to be the main culprits.
I only mention this because Shield Maiden is a welcome relief to what is currently on the market. We have both a captivating female protagonist called Fryda and a worthy partner in Theow. However, Fryda is a princess and Theow is a slave and they cannot be together.
These star crossed lovers don’t have an easy time, but their romance blossoms despite all this – and it was wonderful to read. As such it makes the story more wholesome and ‘coming of age’ than the average YA fantasy romance.
The world building is also interesting as the legend of Beowulf is the mythological inspiration. This story focuses only on the part of the Beowulf poem that deals with the dragon, which feels quite fresh as other stories around Beowulf usually feature Grendel and Grendel’s mother.
Beowulf himself is a side character in this novel, however, we are treated to POV chapters from the dragon – which were beautifully written and intriguing – and contained some of my favourite moments from the whole novel.
Fans of YA fantasy romance will enjoy this novel and linking the story with the epic poem of Beowulf was an inspired decision by Sharon Emmerichs!
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