Avelynn is a novel by Marissa Campbell about a young woman named – surprise! – Avelynn. She is the daughter of a Saxon lord and as seems to be required in historical novels, she is headstrong, feisty, and a woman ahead of her time. I don’t really mind this, though. I mean, who wants to read about a meek, submissive woman, right? Anyway, her father has let her choose whom to marry. But none of her suitors are awesome and her father has finally run out of patience.
“You’re like, eighteen years old, daughter. An old maid! You need to get married now, okay?”
“No! I don’t want to! None of these men interest me. They’re all dumb idiots who don’t understand me!”
“Too bad. I’m your father and you must do what I say!”
“But dad, you and mother married for love, why can’t I? Why? I want to be married for love!”
“Nope, sorry. Father knows best. You will marry this wimp of a man recently returned from Francia. He’s funny and I get along real well with him.”
“But I don’t! He said he’ll beat me!”
“You’re being dramatic, girl. Shut up and go to your room. You’re getting married and that’s final!”
All right, I got carried away there. She didn’t actually go crying to her room. But she does scheme a way to get out of the marriage with Demas, who is as bad as his name sounds. He totally just wants to marry Avelynn for her land. And he’s totally planning to get rid of her father and little brother too to get it. But not many people seem to believe the dude is that bad. Only Avelynn’s close friends – Eahlswith (probably spelling her name wrong), the king’s brother’s wife and her childhood friend; Bertram, an old guy who is hiding the fact he’s a Druid; and later, Muirgen, an old woman who lives in the woods and sells potions for a living – seem to believe her.
Anyway, Avelynn seeks guidance from the goddess in a ritual by the sea one night. Oh yeah, she’s a pagan in disguise, too. That’s when Vikings come along, naturally, and interrupt. Their leader, Alrik, however isn’t so rude. He even lets her finish her ritual. Then when his men want to do stuff to her, he stops them, and then seduces her himself. Although they don’t get that far, reluctantly agreeing to meet again in a month’s time.
So the rest of the novel is basically about Avelynn’s struggle to control her own destiny with bits of romance thrown in here and there. The romance part is steamy but a little contrived. It seemed forced at times. There was certainly lust, but the love seemed out of place. The struggle over her destiny part is done well, however. There’s a lot of action and plot twists and general plotting all around.
All in all, this was an interesting, exciting read. Marisa Campbell is an author to look out for. She’s a bit of Kate Quinn but in the Saxon era. The time period is also a great setting as books set in this time tend to be all about men. It reminded me of Bernard Cornwell’s Uhtred series, but from a woman’s point of view. And it was surprisingly gory.
I would recommend this to historical fiction fans, Cornwell fans, and even fans of the Vikings TV series.
My rating: 4/5