Release Date: February 2nd 2023
Publisher: Ad Astra
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4.25/5 stars
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…
Shield Maiden is a beautifully written fantasy tale that follows Fryda, a young girl with a dream of becoming a shield maiden. After an accident in her childhood leaves her disabled, she believes she will never achieve that dream – no matter how badly she wants it. When her Uncle Beowulf comes to visit the clan and celebrations begin, Fryda uncovers a plot that threatens the safety of the people she loves most. Determined to do what she can to protect her people, Fryda soon feels a strange power growing inside her, but Fryda isn’t the only one who feels the power stirring and a dragon long sleeping might finally awake.
I admit I don’t know all that much about Beowulf but between the intriguing synopsis and that stunning cover I was incredibly keen to read Shield Maiden and I absolutely was not disappointed. This fast-paced fantasy retelling feels incredibly well crafted and lots of research has gone into creating the story. I immediately felt transported to this fascinating setting and I really enjoyed the author’s writing style. It was so easy to get lost in the story that I found myself sitting down to read a chapter and ended up reading for hours at a time. There’s plenty of action in the story and more than a few tense moments. The tension really ramps up towards the end of the story and that final battle scene definitely had me on the edge of my seat.
The characters are really interesting in this story and I really liked Fryda as a main character. There is quite a heavy romance focus in this story, the romance felt well developed and I really liked seeing their relationship develop as the story progressed. I also really liked that there were chapters from the point of view of the dragon, these were really intriguing and had me desperate to know more each time. Shield Maiden is a really captivating historical fantasy tale and if you’re looking for a story full of compelling characters, tense fighting, and a dragon then this one should definitely be on your TBR list.