Today I am excited to be part of the blog tour for The Goddess of Nothing At All, a Norse fantasy by Cat Rector, organised by Storytellers on Tour. Thank you so much Justine and Timy for having me along on the tour. Don’t miss the international giveaway and please check out the other bloggers taking part in this tour:
The Goddess of Nothing At All by Cat Rector
Series: Unwritten Runes (#1)
Published: October 1, 2021
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Norse Myth Retelling
Content Warnings: Vulgar language, Gratuitous violence and torture, Mental, emotional, and verbal abuse, Unhappy situations for LGBTQA+ characters, Mentions of sexual coercion and rape, Death and violence involving animals, Discrimination and fantasy slurs, Death. For more, see the author’s website.
Perhaps you know the myths.
Furious, benevolent Gods.
A tree that binds nine realms.
A hammer stronger than any weapon.
And someday, the end of everything.
But few have heard of me.
Looking back, it’s easy to know what choices I might have made differently. At least it feels that way. I might have given up on my title. Told my father he was useless, king of gods or no, and left Asgard. Made a life somewhere else.
Maybe I would never have let Loki cross my path. Never have fallen in love.
But there’s no going back.
We were happy once.
And the price for that happiness was the end of everything.
I read this book on my kindle, thank you very much to Justine, Timy and Cat Rector for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Tread carefully – this book WILL destroy you emotionally! However, I mean that in a really good way – sometimes we humans need to be forced to feel emotions just to jolt us out of our complacency and make us think – and this book certainly made me think. It left me with a book hangover for days after I finished it, and no amount of Bloody Marys or Hair of the Dog can cure a book hangover.
The Goddess of Nothing At All is a Norse dark fantasy told entirely in first person, from the perspective of a little known goddess named Sigyn. Sigyn is Odin the Alfather’s daughter, yet he fails to acknowledge her status as a goddess and grant her a title. She longs for his recognition and goes to Loki, the God of Lies and Chaos for help on the advice of their mutual friend, the goddess Idunn. Poor Idunn is such an innocent, loving friend to them both and really has no idea what she is setting in motion by suggesting these two characters get to know one another!
Loki saves Sigyn’s life and shows her his kind and generous side but he is still a trickster, someone to be cautious of, the kind of person you should really run a mile from before you start to care for them… They discover they have much in common as both have been treated unfairly by Odin and soon Loki and Sigyn are falling head over heels in love, despite warnings from pretty much everyone else in Asgard and unfortunately her fate and heartbreakingly, that of her children, is sealed.
Sigyn slowly comes to realize that however hard she studies or trains as a fighter, capricious Odin will never give her the title she so desperately craves:
Odin leaned forward in the chair, glaring down with that one eye, a scowl under his grey-streaked beard. His pet ravens rustled and squawked from the back of the throne. “I’m waiting for you to show me something worth rewarding, and I haven’t seen it yet, not in the least. Give up on this maddening chase; I’ll tell you when you’re ready.”Odin
A great number of the well-known Norse myths are intertwined with the main story of this book, such as Loki cutting off Sif’s hair; how Thor got his hammer; the theft of Thor’s hammer; Loki using Freya’s falcon cloak; Thor as a bride; Loki having his lips sewn shut by dwarves; Loki and the goat (!), Sleipnir’s origin story and many more. I enjoyed coming upon each of these and recognising them, and was impressed by how the author was able to fit them into her story so seamlessly. You do not need prior knowledge of these myths in order to enjoy the book, but if you do know them it is fun to find them interspersed through the main story of Sigyn and Loki’s tumultuous lives.
It’s hard to believe this is Cat Rector’s debut novel – it’s so well written. An impressive amount of research has clearly gone into it and the characterisation is very deeply portrayed and utterly believable.
We see Loki the Trickster as a victim, since he tells Sigyn things about his life that he would never tell anyone else. He is a devastatingly tragic character who sees rebellion and chaos as his only defences – and they lead to more pain and destruction for both his enemies and loved ones than he can possibly imagine.
I knew the story of Sleipnir, the eight legged horse’s conception – but the way it is retold here and it’s timing in terms of Sigyn’s pregnancy with their firstborn son is heartbreaking and almost brings an end to their relationship. Their love is strong, however and Sigyn forgives him. She is happy for her shapeshifting beloved to be male or female – whatever Loki desires as long as he/she is able to stick around the next time they have a baby.
Sigyn has been written as an amazingly loyal, brave and feisty woman – she has a fantastic depth and strength of character and seems to always know exactly the right words to say to Loki and her sons in the many emotionally charged situations they share. She swallows her pride/horror and buckles down to whatever is needed to protect and preserve her little family, whether that means standing up to her father, the fearsome Odin, or nursing and healing Loki when the dwarves have been allowed to sew his mouth shut. Loki puts her through so much turmoil and still she keeps going for the sake of the children. She is an absolute Mama Bear who will do whatever it takes to protect her children and help them survive without question.
Loki’s wit and emotional range are on full display as well. We see him tormented, elated, frustrated and worshipful of his beloved Sigyn. He bounces back from every horror thrown his way, yet remembers them, storing them up and holding them against the other gods. Who can blame him when he occasionally tries to get his own back a little. More often than not his vengeance attempts are foiled and he finds himself punished even more by these cruel, unyielding gods.
Loki is put in a position where he makes a terrible choice and Idunn pays the price. This has unbearable consequences which are finally too much for Sigyn to put up with:
“How the fuck could I? I’m here, day in and day out, sticking up for you. Protecting you. And you’re keeping secrets I can’t pry out of you. How could I ever understand? You won’t let me. I’m just your moronic wife, too simple to understand complicated, tortured Loki.”Sigyn
They are tethered to one another but Sigyn is unable to forgive Loki and life turns nightmarish for her. Deep down she still loves him but thinks she can never forgive him for what happened to her best friend Idunn.
To the Norse gods manliness and strength as a warrior are everything and they do not tolerate effeminate men. This kind of intolerance is clearly an unacceptable way of thinking to both the author and her main characters. When her son, Vali admits to Sigyn he is gay she is immediately accepting, opening her house to his boyfriend, but is equally sympathetic to his concerns about coming out in such a toxic environment:
“You and I both know what people in this city think. The worst thing you can be is a man who doesn’t act like one. The things they say about Loki! That he’s argr, that he sleeps with beasts and lets men use him. They used to tell me that every single day, made sure I knew it, until I beat one of them so badly, he didn’t wake up until resurrections the next day.”Vali
One of the author’s strengths is dialogue. The conversations between Loki and Sigyn are so well-written and believable. You can imagine how frustrating and devastating it must be being married to the God of Lies, second guessing everything he has to say. The author also gives Sigyn a wonderful, poetic turn of phrase:
There’s a silent knowing to mourning. A sadness that falls into place like a mist, and it’s so thick that the only way to see through it is to sit close and stay together.Sigyn
There were quotations at the beginning of each chapter, setting the scene for what was to come, which I really liked, and a glossary of Norse terms at the back of the book. I think the glossary of Norse terms could have been better placed at the beginning of the book, as I was unaware of its existence until about halfway through reading the book.
In conclusion, this story is both devastating and unputdownable, at times heart-warming and at others it will make you want to scream. An emotional ride to say the least! I really can’t wait to read the sequel – but not before I have had some recovery time, please!!
***International Giveaway !***
Prize: A hardcover copy of The Goddess of Nothing At All by Cat Rector
Starts: September 29th, 2021 at 12:00am EST
Ends: October 6th, 2021 at 11:59pm EST
Click here or on the banner below to enter.
About the Author
Cat Rector grew up in a small Nova Scotian town and could often be found simultaneously reading a book and fighting off muskrats while walking home from school. She devours story in all its forms, loves messy, morally grey characters, and writes about the horrors that we inflict on each other. Currently, she lives in Belgium with her spouse. When she’s not writing, you can find her playing video games, spending time with loved ones, or staring at her To Be Read pile like it’s going to read itself.
The Goddess of Nothing At All is her debut novel.