The nationwide bestselling writer of the award-winning novel “The Witch’s Coronary heart” (2021), Genevieve Gornichec, delivers one other subversive reimagining of Norse mythology in her new novel “The Weaver and The Witch Queen” ($27) — publishing from Ace (an imprint of Penguin Random Home) on July 25, 2023.
Like Madeline Miller’s “Circe” and Neil Gaiman’s “Norse Mythology,” Gornichec’s novels breathe new life into the extra obscure characters of fantasy and historical past. “The Wall Road Journal”‘s Tom Shippey wrote that Gornichec’s debut, “The Witch’s Coronary heart,” “subverts the mythology from inside, knowledgeably and provokingly,” detailing the story of a banished witch who fell in love with the trickster god Loki.
In “The Weaver and the Witch Queen,” Gornichec crafts one other sweeping, feminist story, this time exploring the highly effective bonds of sisterhood — each by blood relation and by sworn blood oath — by means of a hanging new tackle the story of the Viking Queen Gunnhild, Mom of Kings.
This excerpt from “The Weaver and the Witch Queen” introduces us to Gunnhild when she was nonetheless only a baby, lengthy earlier than establishing her legacy as Viking Queen.
A horn sounded throughout the water in two brief bursts.
Upon listening to it, Gunnhild Ozurardottir dropped her spindle and distaff and ran, ignoring the admonishments of the opposite serving girls sitting beneath the awning, the place they’d been spinning all afternoon. They’d scold her later, however she cared little.
Her associates had been about to reach. And at such occasions, she discovered it onerous to care about anything.
Gunnhild rounded the nook of the longhouse and sprinted up the hill, making for her father’s watchman on the jap aspect of the island. He was stationed on a small platform overlooking the water and at all times had a blowing horn available.
“One ship!” he referred to as over his shoulder on the different males milling about, not even noticing as Gunnhild hiked up her costume and scrambled up the platform’s brief ladder. “It is Ketil’s!”
Earlier than he might protest, Gunnhild grabbed the horn off its peg and blew it twice. Beneath, she might hear disenchanted noises coming from the kids on the ship, and she or he grinned.
“Oi!” the person mentioned, snatching the horn. “That is just for emergencies!”
“This is an emergency,” Gunnhild replied with gravity. She pointed to a darkish form within the water. “As quickly as they cross that huge rock within the bay, they blow the horn. And if I do not reply earlier than they dock, I owe them a trinket. Two blasts for hi there, three for goodbye.”
“Aren’t you a bit of previous for video games, lady?” He hung the horn again the place it belonged with an air of reverence.
“Not once I know I can win,” Gunnhild mentioned, nonetheless grinning. She descended the ladder and ran for the shore, leaving the watchman shaking his head.
As she received nearer, she might see Ketil and his son, Vestein, and his males tying up their rowboat on the rickety picket dock, which might quickly be full. Three others disembarked: Ketil’s spouse, Freydis, and their daughters, Oddny and Signy, whom Gunnhild virtually tackled in a hug as she ran as much as them. After sighing and shifting the bedroll in her arms, Signy rummaged in her rucksack and handed over a single glass bead, which Gunnhild snatched up with an air of triumph and stuffed into the pouch at her belt.
At twelve years previous, Gunnhild was precisely between the sisters in age—Signy a 12 months older, Oddny a 12 months youthful—and the ladies not often received to see one another besides at gatherings like this, which made the day even sweeter.
“You are too quick,” Signy complained as Gunnhild threw an arm round every of her associates and herded them up the hill towards her father’s corridor.
“Or possibly you are not quick sufficient,” Gunnhild mentioned, “as a result of once I go to you I nonetheless at all times win. I’ve a set to show it.”
Oddny, the youthful of the 2 sisters, sniffed and picked at one of many furs rolled up in her bedroll, skinny shoulders hunched, her common pinched expression wanting much more so than common. “It could assist if Signy ever paid consideration as an alternative of daydreaming on a regular basis.”
“Hush, you. I concentrate,” Signy mentioned calmly, tossing one among her chestnut-colored braids over her shoulder. Her inexperienced eyes had been, as at all times, brimming with mischief. Gunnhild at all times appreciated that about her: whether or not it was stealing oatcakes from the cookhouse or pulling a well-timed prank on the farmhands, Signy was at all times up for a bit of enjoyable, the place Oddny was extra prone to sit again and provides them a disapproving look from whichever of her chores she was dutifully performing. Oddny wasn’t a lot enjoyable, however not less than she by no means tattled on them.
As they entered the longhouse, Gunnhild noticed that preparations had been effectively underway to obtain the völva, the sensible lady who would quickly be visiting. A small, sq. platform had been raised on the far finish of the corridor, close to her father’s excessive seat, for the witch to make use of as she carried out the ritual to look into the opposite world and reveal the longer term. It sat slightly below the picket statues of the gods Odin, Thor, and Frey which loomed from the jutting lintel above the doorway to the antechamber the place Gunnhild’s household slept.
Gunnhild had by no means seen her father’s corridor wanting fairly like this: buzzing with exercise, the air charged with pleasure. It felt like a much-needed rainstorm was about to blow by means of.
Picture Supply: Courtesy of Ace Publishing