I recently read a book called Avelynn, by Marissa Campbell. The scene setting in 869, it features a protagonist named Avelynn, who is a young, noble, strong-willed Saxon woman attempting to forge her future during a volatile time in England that is the Viking invasion.
Upon hearing about this book, I immediately wanted to read it. Those that know my reading style know I’m not much for romance, unless it’s historically tastefully done and makes me swoon right along with them. And generally, the woman must be a very independent type. The synopsis of this book, with it featuring Vikings, is pretty much what sold the book to me to read. Though it is a debut novel, coming out Sept. 8, 2015, it was so strikingly done and now I’m sold on her writing style.
The book reminded me, of course, a little about my favorite show, “Vikings.” However, ultimately it swept me off on it’s own tale to a another place and time as her eloquent storytelling was set with scenery of perfect description. I became wrapped up in the life of Avelynn, loving her character and personality, intertwined in her hopes, dreams, desires, and passion, and her character development was amazing. You can tell that Marissa is either a seasoned writer or has a wealth of talent, or both, as her flowing style will have you mesmerized from the first chapter.
I love the action scenes, as I do love a good battle, much of what I like about the show Vikings or any other historical epic. I thought she wrote those fairly well and created suspense throughout the book. I’m more for the action and suspense in the book than for the steamy love scenes, but yet, when done with passion as these were and the most compelling wording, I find myself slowly opening up to this in books. I think her writing in these parts was sensual and divine, not cheesy like the romances I abhor. She bound together the chaos of the time with the fervent desires of the flesh and it made me love this book.
The historical research into the time period, as well as all the other little details, amazed me. I liked her drippings of paganism into the story, which were moving and authentic, and the thought processes she used in her characters. This was no light and fluffy romance read by any means. I think that as she writes more into this series (that’s me hoping she does), she’ll grow even deeper as a writer and can stand with some of the best historical fiction writers in the genre as she can appeal to many. Thomas Dunne is certainly finding some of the best talent out there and Marissa has a great amount of potential.
A story full of hope, tragedy, sacrifice, and love. I highly recommend this book if you are looking to get swept away this fall; and if you like books by Susanna Kearsley, you’ll want to devour Avelynn. I’m in love with Avelynn’s determined warrior nature and I absolutely can’t wait to visit her world again. Part historical fiction interspersed with romance and part fantasy, this book will captivate you for a day and stay with you for much longer. A strong 4 stars!
Excerpt of Avelynn~
A coarse, bloodcurdling shout reverberated through the mist. The drum silenced. I froze. My heart took up a thunderous beat as if a thousand starlings’ wings beat in my chest. Something was terribly wrong. I turned my gaze to the sea, frantically scanning the swirling, ebbing mass of gray, willing the mist to lift.
Shades and shadows melted away. The outline of a Viking ship materialized before my eyes. A blood-red sail pierced the gloom, a black bird emblazed upon the fabric. A beast of a man ran toward me, a painted shield in one hand, an axe in the other. He stepped over the circle and grabbed my arms. I could smell the fetid reek of his breath, the unwashed sweat and sea spray on his filthy clothes. I screamed. He snarled, covered my mouth, and thrust me to the ground. I kicked and thrashed as he fumbled one-handed with the drawstring on his trousers.
Then he stopped, a look of surprise etched in his wide eyes. Blood sputtered out of his mouth, and he fell sideways. I scrambled back as his body twitched, my breath ragged. An axe was stuck fast in his spine.
I screamed again as another Viking appeared before me. Taller than Glastonbury Tor, he wore a silver helmet with nose and cheek guards and full mail. The same black bird as on the ship’s sail stretched its wings across the battered wooden surface of his shield. A sword and a knife, cradled in their scabbards, hung from a leather belt on his waist. He grabbed one of the dead Viking’s feet and hauled him out of the circle. He jerked the axe free of the body and tucked the weapon into a sling that hung on his back.
I found my feet, spinning to discover the extent of my trouble. Were there more invaders? Did the Viking know I was alone with no chance of aid? Were his men scoping the surrounding area even now? Did they find our campsite with only two horses and two bedrolls? Where was Bertram?
The Viking looked down at the circle drawn in the sand and bowed. With his body still bent, he raised his head, blue eyes regarding me. “I apologize for the disruption to your ritual, Seiðkana,” he said, speaking in the Norse tongue.
I narrowed my eyes at him. Seiðkana? I wasn’t sure of the translation of the word, but I thought it meant witch.
“Who are you?” I asked in Norse, earning a look of shock.
“I am Alrik the Bloodaxe, your servant.”
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance
One extraordinary Saxon noblewoman and one fearless Viking warrior find passion and danger in this dazzling and sensuous debut.
Marissa Campbell’s debut novel is a winning combination of romance, history, and adventure sure to appeal to fans of Diana Gabaldon.
It is 869. For eighteen years, Avelynn, the beautiful and secretly pagan daughter of the Eadlorman of Somerset has lived in an environment of love and acceptance. She hasn’t yet found a man to make her heart race, but her father has not pressured her to get married. Until now. With whispers of war threatening their land, her father forces Avelynn into a betrothal with Demas, a man who only covets her wealth and status. The dreaded marriage looming, she turns to her faith, searching for answers in an ancient ritual along the coast, only to find Alrik the Blood-Axe and sixty Viking berserkers have landed.
Alrik is unlike any man she has ever known, strong and intriguing. Likewise, he instantly falls for her beauty and courage. The two stumble into a passionate love affair, but it’s more than just a greedy suitor who will try to keep them apart.
As the Saxons and Vikings go to war, Avelynn and Alrik find themselves caught in the throes of fate. Can they be true to their people as well as to each other?
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“Marissa Campbell brings a long-forgotten era splendidly to life in this adventurous and passionate debut.” –Susanna Kearsley, New York Times bestselling author
“Avelynn is a captivating tale of star-crossed lovers. He is a Viking and she is a Saxon. Their struggle to be together will lead you on an exciting journey through a background filled with rich and detailed description.” –Connie Mason, New York Times bestselling author of Viking Warrior
“Marissa Campbell’s Avelynn is a fast-paced, rollicking historical novel whose irresistible heroine starts out as the willful daughter of a Saxon earl and evolves into a warrior and leader, as fierce as she is passionate.” –Barbara Rogan, author of A Dangerous Fiction and Suspicion
“A hot-blooded tale of Viking invasion, Saxon valor, and a love that conquers kingdoms. Get ready to be bewitched by the bold, brave Avelynn.” – Barbara Kyle, author of The Queen’s Exiles
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, Marissa Campbell~
Her debut historical fiction Avelynn publishes September 8th, 2015, from St. Martin’s Press/Griffin.
Currently hard at work on the second book in the Avelynn series, she is a proud member of the Historical Novel Society, Romance Writers of America, Writer’s Community of Durham Region, and local critique group B7.
When she is not writing, she is busy looking after her wonderful children, spending time with her fantastic husband, hanging out with her awesome friends, teaching yoga, dancing, laughing, and having fun!
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