ARC Review: The Serpent and the Dead by Anna Stephens

Book Description

In The Serpent and the Dead, Brunnhilde the Valkyrie, the fearsome Asgardian warrior entrusted with conveying worthy souls to the heroes’ afterlife, stalks a battlefield finding only empty husks. Yet the souls are not already in Valhalla, or the lesser afterworlds—they have vanished.

She enlists the aid of the valiant Lady Sif, and together they scour Asgard for answers. Rumors abound of towns being attacked by a horde of soldiers who cannot be killed. Someone is building an immortal army and stealing Asgardian souls… A worthy challenge for two of Asgard’s mightiest champions!

The Serpent and the Dead is the third prose novel in the LEGENDS OF ASGARD line, which is set in the legendary realm of Asgard and rich in Norse-inspired mythology, follows The Head of Mimir and The Sword of Surtur. These fantastical stories centering on Thor’s daring companions celebrate heroism, adventure, fate, honor, and myth, bringing their stories to the fore. Raise a flagon of ale and enjoy tales of the extraordinary exploits of heroes and heroines from the Ten Realms.


My Review

I was granted a digital copy of this book by the publishers, Aconyte Books, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you very much!

I have heard great things about Anna Stephens books and have been meaning to read them, so when I saw that she had written a novel for the Marvel Legends of Asgard series I had to read it. I am a fan of Norse fantasy so this would be a perfect combination…and I am so glad I did. I have not yet read the other books in this series but they have now been added to my To Be Read List. I hope they are as good as The Serpent and the Dead!

The Serpent and the Dead starts with an exciting action packed battle scene with shieldmaidens Sif and Gyda fighting the Vanir. A mystery develops when Gyda falls to one of the giants and her soul is not collected by a Valkyrie to help her get to Valhalla. Sif and Brunnhilde, the leader of the Valkyrior, suspect Loki’s involvement. 

Sif vows to find Gyda wherever she has been hidden and to get her revenge, and Thor decides to send Sif and Brunnhilde along with Brunnhilde’s warrior girlfriend, Inge, on a mission to find out who is behind this outrage and bring them to justice. Thor gives Sif a Quellstone with the power to both destroy and heal – an invention of his mother’s – to help protect them.

These are badass female warriors from Norse myth and legend. I really enjoyed the female camaraderie between these ladies and their characterisation was done very well. They care deeply for one another and treat each other with love and respect as they make their way to solve the mystery of what exactly is going on and who is to blame.

Sif is a fearsome warrior, but has a tendency towards anger and recklessness. Her existing hatred of Loki dates back to when he cut off her beautiful blonde hair and replaced it with black hair. Brunnhilde suspects that this hatred is probably clouding her vision.

Inge is painted as a natural diplomat. She is tremendously brave, but not fearless. She is scared for her family in her hometown of Meadowfall and what she might discover when they arrive there on their way to find a portal which will let them jump to the realm of the ice giants, where they expect to find Loki. Inge is terrified by the thought of deathless warriors and the glorious dead not making it to Valhalla.

Brunnhilde is a leader, the manager of the trio, very capable and driven by her duty as a Valkyrie to help souls of warriors to safely make it to Valhalla. All of them are supportive of each other and when Sif and Brunnhilde realise their emotions and fears are being manipulated, they come up with ways to ensure neither of them succumbs to this manipulation.

More warriors have been soul-snatched than they at first believed which is a horrifying prospect. 

A new deadly enemy has also been appearing recently, warriors who refuse to die unless their limbs and head are cut off and burned. Otherwise they knit themselves back together and come back to life. They have a familiar look to them which makes them even scarier. The enemy behind these abominations wants nothing apart from annihilation and to snatch souls where possible.

There were many exciting action sequences in this fast-paced novel with plenty of well-choreographed fight scenes. I would recommend this book to fans of Marvel, Norse fantasy and action hero movies with female protagonists.

Amazon | goodreads


About the Author

Anna Stephens is the UK-based author of the Godblind trilogy – Goblind, Darksoul, Bloodchild – and the in-progress Songs of the Drowned trilogy. She also writes for Black Library and Marvel. 
You can sign up to her newsletter here: https://anna-stephens.com/get-in-touch/ or her Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/join/annastep…?

Anna has a BA (Hons) in Literature from the Open University and has wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember. She much prefers the worlds she makes up to the real thing, even if most of her characters meet sticky ends. 

Anna lives with her husband, a huge book, music and movie collection, and no pets. She intends to remedy this lack of furry friends as soon as fame and fortune strike.

You can help her realise her twin dreams of being an author and a proud dog-walker by buying her books. Thanks.


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