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eARC Review: A Fate Inked in Blood by Danielle L. Jensen

Release date:  27 Feb 2024

Rating:  3/5

Book box/SE’s:  FairyLoot February Adult, Goldsboro Signed Edition, LitLove Box March

Synopsis:  A shield maiden blessed by the gods battles to unite a nation under a power-hungry king—while also fighting her growing desire for his fiery son—in this Norse-inspired fantasy romance from the bestselling author of The Bridge Kingdom series.

Bound in an unwanted marriage, Freya spends her days gutting fish, but dreams of becoming a warrior. And of putting an axe in her boorish husband’s back.

Freya’s dreams abruptly become reality when her husband betrays her to the region’s jarl, landing her in a fight to the death against his son, Bjorn. To survive, Freya is forced to reveal her deepest secret: She possesses a drop of a goddess’s blood, which makes her a shield maiden with magic capable of repelling any attack. It was foretold such a magic would unite the fractured nation of Skaland beneath the one who controls the shield maiden’s fate.

Believing he’s destined to rule Skaland as king, the fanatical jarl binds Freya with a blood oath and orders Bjorn to protect her from their enemies. Desperate to prove her strength, Freya must train to fight and learn to control her magic, all while facing perilous tests set by the gods. The greatest test of all, however, may be resisting her forbidden attraction to Bjorn. If Freya succumbs to her lust for the charming and fierce warrior, she risks not only her own destiny but the fate of all the people she swore to protect.



Be advised this review contains snark (but no bad language).

I’ve read many books from Jensen’s backlist, and I’ve known about Jensen in the book world since the publication of the first book in the Dark Shores Series, so I’m no stranger to this writer.  I own all of Jensen’s books (yes, even the ones I haven’t read yet).  I have liked a few of Jensen’s books.  Trust me when I assert that it pains me incredibly to write that I did not enjoy this one.  It did not feel like a book written by an experienced author.  The plot was repetitive, dull, and uneventful.  The book also falls into the cheap trap of trudging along and boring me and then ending the last two or three chapters with what the previous 5,000 should have had in them.  Sigh.  Also, I wonder how there are so many reviews posted for this when the ebook from the publisher requested for reviews not to be posted until publication date.  Maybe that was just my edition?  Not sure.

Mainly, the druthers I have about this one stem from the plot structure and the romance between the love interests.  It is awkward, forced in setup, and just not really that good.  The two people are attractive, and that’s about the only quality that pits them together as a couple.  Bjorn (for an authentic Scandinavian spelling, see Bjørn or Björn), though a halfway decent character, feels too incidental to be a love interest.  He’s eye candy at the start of the book and then a tagalong for the rest of it.  His role in the story comes to fruition mostly at the end (again, I can’t stand the boring, boring, boring, and then tons of action toward the end).  Freya, who should resemble a remarkable woman saddled with a terrible husband comes across only as a whiny, simpering idiot of a girl who continues to be loyal to her family to the detriment of the war and conflict going on around her.  I know Jensen can write females with conflicting inner turmoil and grown-up thoughts.  Freya is not one of those characters.  I won’t waste a reader’s time with a breakdown of all the side characters.  It could go on and on.  I don’t want to get myself worked up.

My bookshelves for a plot in this thing!  What a repetitive, completely inane story.  It was seriously Percy Jackson but with grown people and Nordic folk.  Throw in a little bit of Power Rangers because we have to say the god’s or goddess’ name to activate our powers.  I really can see Freya holding out her hand and saying dinosaur names in my head (which may or may not have happened when I was reading).  The problem with this type of magic system is the amount of repetition required to narrate action scenes.  With action-packed plots, the characters will constantly do and say the same thing in order to fight.  And Freya says “Hlin” a lot.  

The repetition doesn’t stop there, either.  In order to get Freya to fall in line, Snorri, the would be King of the south, threatens her family constantly (you know, just like parents who count when they’re trying to get their toddlers to do what they’re told).  It felt like I read for days when only 10% of the book had gone by.  Several things go on at one time, and the events don’t connect well together.  Jarls come after Freya.  Someone tries to murder Freya.  Freya and Bjorn make forbidden googly eyes at each other and then try to resist.  I felt intensely the circumlocutory nature of the plot.  How is this a Jensen book?  

We’re not really that far into 2024.  It’s only the end of February, but I will have to say, A Fate Inked in Blood is the biggest let down of 2024 for me.  I’ve learned not to really expect much from hyped books, but this one I self-hyped because I based my expectations on past experiences.  I had genuine, empirically-based high hopes.  What a wet blanket this book was, man.  

Despite my disappointment, I still profusely thank Del Rey and NetGalley for the eARC (I still can’t believe I got approved), for which I willingly give my own, honest opinion (as one can tell).

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