Synopsis: Malin is a Valkyrie-in-training. It’s her responsibility to slay immortals, returning them to the afterlife to maintain balance in the world. She also struggles to maintain balance in her own life – between her studies, her duties as a Valkyrie and her conflicting feelings for her ex-girlfriend.
But when a beguiling stranger breaks into her home on a quest for vengeance, Malin’s carefully balanced life falls apart. Asher is hunting the rogue immortal who murdered his mother, and he thinks Malin may have information. Her loyalties are tested, as she uncovers a betrayal that unravels everything she thought she knew. And she must decide if helping the mysterious Asher enact his revenge is worth the risk – to the world, and to her heart.
Author: Amanda Hocking
Title: Between the Blade and the Heart
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
The synopsis of Between the Blade and the Heart caught my attention and I thought it sounded like a really fun read.
Malin has almost completed her training to “return” immortals to their underworld to preserve a balance here on Earth. Her distant-but-efficient mother is overseeing her training and apart from complicated feelings about an ex-girlfriend, Malin is happy. But when some stranger breaks into her apartment and reveals her mother isn’t as perfect as Malin believed, everything unravels.
Despite the fight scenes, the complicated relationships, the immortals and a quest for revenge, this story is ultimately about love, both platonic and romantic. Malin hates her mother for what she has done: she will also do anything to avenge her. Quinn will face impossible odds if it gives her a chance to win Malin back. Despite being on his own quest for revenge, Asher also puts Malin first, ensuring her survival because of budding feelings. Oona doesn’t have strength or a sword, she has sorcery. But she also enters this fight because Malin is her best friend and she won’t let her face those odds on her own. Love binds this group together.
I didn’t even know exactly how I felt about my ex-girlfriend or my current sorta-beau, and now we were all going on a road trip together to avenge our mothers and save the world.
I really enjoyed Between the Blade and the Heart. Underlying tension from the start – we meet Malin as she decapitates an immortal – gives the book a steady pace, which quickens in the drama of the end. A sense of normalcy – Malin still attends school (of sorts!) – blends with the unnatural elements of her life. It keeps the story grounded in today’s world, even if not the present time, which makes connecting and empathising with the characters easier.
The characters are well developed. Malin’s conflicted feelings about her mother ring true and her uncertainty about love gives a clear character development arc as the story progresses. I loved Asher – he wants to protect Malin but knows full well she can handle herself far better than he can. He respects her and her talent from the start. Quinn is more distant to connect to, but it’s clear how she feels about Malin. And Oona is the type of best friend that we all want; ready to dive into a mystery and danger that has nothing to do with her because her friend needs help.
Some of the romance undermined the book a little for me. It was Malin’s romantic feelings that placed the book in the YA category for me due to her thought processes and actions. It also followed the now-old trope of a love triangle with Asher/Malin/Quinn. Thankfully, however, Malin didn’t spend the entire book lamenting over who to choose. It felt repetitive when she was thinking about her potential partner though; we find out more than once how the two of them make her feel.
Between the Blade and the Heart is a solid story with excitement, romance and interesting characters. It’s an enjoyable, albeit fairly easy read, and I could connect to the world being portrayed. I would happily read the next book!