I focus primarily on Young Adult, Middle Grade, and Children's books, but my tastes are eclectic, so I change things up frequently!
Tessa Gratton's The Lost Sun is a beautifully written and imagined introduction to The United States of Asgard series. This tale of two teens with interwoven destinies unfolds with an insistent pull from Gratton's steady hand and, before the reader realizes what's happened, they're completely under the spell of this alternate universe and the characters they've come to love.
The Lost Sun follows Soren, a born with the gift, or curse, of berserking in this blood, and Astrid, a gifted prophetess like her mother before her. The country is thrown in chaos when the Sun God, Baldur, goes missing. When Astrid tells Soren that she's believes she knows where to find Baldur, they set out on a cross-country road trip to save him. However, what begins as a simple recovery mission turns into something much more complex than either anticipated. Along the way, they discover truths about themselves, form bonds and relationships that can never be broken, and, ultimately, embrace destinies that will define the courses if their lives.
The alternate world in Gratton's novel incorporates many of the key players in Norse mythology. Though I know very little about Norse mythology, I recognized all of the borrowed characters and Gratton clearly defined the personalities and dominions of each so I never felt that I was missing any important details. In comparison to Roman and Greek mythology, there is a wildness and obvious danger to Norse mythological figures. I really, really loved what this brought to the otherwise contemporary setting in the novel. Having this mix of contemporary and aged, or, perhaps, ageless in the case of gods and goddesses, created a world that was both nostalgically familiar and entirely new.
While I have heard complaints of an insta-romance in The Lost Sun, I have to say that I completely disagree with this claim. From the start, Soren has strong feelings toward Astrid, but he never once falls into being some type of lovesick, sappy character. Soren and Astrid's journeys are tied together and they both carry gifts from the gods, as a berserker and a prophetess, so they have a bond forged of unique understanding that adds a deeper layer to the relationship.
I didn't expect to have the added pull of a roadtrip to contribute to the charm and magic of this novel, but that's exactly what I found. There's just something about a roadtrip that bonds characters (and readers to those characters) that simply can't be forged any by any other method. I am so thankful that The Lost Sun is the first in a series because I am entirely too attached to the four main characters in this novel; I'm just not ready to let them go.
Read The Lost Sun. Whether you loved, liked, disliked, or never read Gratton's first books is irrelevant: The Lost Sun will enchant you and leave you wanting more.