REVIEW: Avelynn by Marissa Campbell debuts!
The Dark Ages come alive in this historical adventure romance debut! A strong female lead must choose between the man her father says she is to wed and the Viking enemy who has stolen her heart. In a war-torn land, can Avelynn save her people and earn the right to choose her own destiny?
Her father’s lenience allows Avelynn to overstep the set boundaries for women and he hasn’t felt the need to curtail her until now. He has spoiled her, especially after his beloved wife’s death. After four years of waiting for Avelynn to choose a husband, her father Eadlorman of Somerset chooses a husband for her in order to protect her from an oncoming war. For Avelynn, not marrying for love is a fate worth fighting to the death.
Avelynn’s pagan faith is strong, yet practiced in secret within a Christian land. She enlists her tutor’s help, who is also her mentor, and they find a deserted beach where Avelynn can worship unseen. When a Viking breaks her protected circle, Avelynn doesn’t expect another Viking to save her. Alrik charms Avelynn like no other man, and they agree to meet in secret again in the future.
Like many strong heroines in fiction, Avelynn has many attributes in her favor. She is trained in warfare and knows how to fight. She has assisted in decisions within her father’s council, so she knows how to reason. Her sense of fairness often irritates her father and her adversaries but pleases her people. She has been allowed freedom not necessarily given to most women in her position. This makes Avelynn strong and opinionated, as well as not able to cope with her father’s decisions when they’re not equal to her desires. Her growth as a character derives out of hard lessons learned throughout the story.
Upon the suggestion of her best friend who is married to the king’s brother, Avelynn decides to meet Alrik secretly once again. She’s sure she can find a way out of her pending marriage but she doesn’t yet realize how far her betrothed will go to make her his. Determined to find a way out of her future, while still keeping her younger brother and her people safe, Avelynn becomes a pawn in a deadly game of cat and mouse.
This novel takes place in a time of history that I don’t read as often, so I had some difficulty getting into the rhythm of the book at first. Some of the character names are difficult and somewhat similar, so I became confused a few times in the beginning. They’re realistic names so if you read this time period or fantasy, you won’t have any trouble with them. It’s one of the reasons I don’t read as much fantasy as I’d like to but this historical adventure had enough flavor to make it realistic but not overtly to make it a slow read for me. I think if you like fiction with a mixture of historical realism and Celtic mythology, you’ll enjoy this first book in what promises to be an exciting series.
This novel gets better with every chapter. Avelynn grows into a woman with strong convictions, willing to risk everything for what is right. I enjoyed the pagan twists in this novel and I can’t wait to find out if Avelynn succeeds in her dream for more peaceful times for her people. Despicable villains increase tension and I’m betting we haven’t heard the last from them either.
I enjoyed the historical accuracy in this book, so much so that I did some research to further my knowledge. That helped me to understand how “Viking” and “pirate” were used interchangeably, something I didn’t understand at first. The pagan and Christian difficulties in the ninth century are well versed, offering some insight into the plight of both sides in this dark period of history. The gory aspects of war are vividly depicted and may make some readers squeamish, but they’re necessary to continue the plot. Some of the torture horrified me so I had to look it up to find out if it was true. What I found was historically accurate so it’s there with purpose. I loved the inclusion of the mystical Avalon within the story and look forward to how that’s used in future books.
Marissa Campbell has done her research, creating a sensual love story with enough closure, but still dangles a few unanswered questions to increase anticipation for the next book. I hope Avelynn’s brother Edward will be a primary character in book two. A stimulating new voice in historical fiction is always welcome and I’m anxious for Marissa Campbell’s next endeavor. If you love historical adventure with a bit of old world mysticism mixed in, add AVELYNN to your next-to-read list.
Review courtesy of Romance Junkies and The Zest Quest. Print ARC provided by the publisher.
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Avelynn by Marissa Campbell
Category: Historical Fiction
St. Martin’s Griffin (September 8, 2015)
Rated 4 out of 5
Do you enjoy adventure style historicals?