River of Shadows (Underworld Gods #1) by Karina Halle
ABOUT THE BOOK
In order to save my father, I have to marry the God of Death.
When 24-year old Hanna Heikkinen’s estranged father dies, she reluctantly makes the trip to Northern Finland for his funeral. Being in the enchanting land of ice and snow feels miles away from Hanna’s busy life back in Los Angeles, especially under the complicated circumstances.
But when Hanna discovers that her father’s body is missing, that’s when things really get weird. A mysterious man, Rasmus, tells Hanna the truth: her father was a powerful shaman who went into Tuonela, the Realm of the Dead, in order to barter for more life, and has been held captive by Tuoni, the God of Death. The only way her father can be freed is if she travels with Rasmus into the mythical underworld to rescue him.
Willing to do anything to have a second-chance with her father, Hanna accompanies Rasmus into the dark and bloody realm, traveling via the River of Shadows, stalked by dangerous creatures, monsters, and the living dead, until they finally come into the haunted kingdom ruled by Death and his family. Only for her to be captured and held prisoner by the God of Death himself.
Turns out Death is intrigued by Hanna’s beauty and fierceness and makes a bargain with her. If she marries him, and spends an eternity in the Realm of the Dead as his wife, he’ll set her father free. But even the most noble sacrifices come with hidden costs, and Hanna’s might involve the most unexpected of all things: her heart.
What a wonderfully dark fantasy with mysterious characters, a gripping adventure, and a beautifully morbid and creepy setting. Can a mortal escape Death’s door…literally?
Hanna Heikkinen is shocked and devastated by her father’s death. As she travels from the states to her father’s home in Lapland she regrets that she hadn’t visited sooner when he was alive. She loved her father so much. So much that she would sell her soul to the God of Death to get her father back?
Who can Hanna trust in this fantastical land of shamans, talking bat-winged zombie unicorns, Gods, and Death himself? She had no idea her father was a powerful shaman and the world she knew is behind her as she follows her father’s apprentice, Rasmus, in the Land of the Dead to get her father back. She barters her eternal life for her father’s life and lands herself in the City of the Dead with a cruel, yet surprising, God of Death. Guarded by Deadhands and Deadmaidens with skeletons for bodies Hanna’s prison becomes something more when Death unveils himself both physically and emotionally. In addition, she starts to feel comfortable and free in her new setting with a God who makes her feel things. But she must follow her plan to become Death’s queen and use that power to return to her father. Sometimes the best-laid plans go awry.
Hanna is a strong heroine with some kind of unawakened power that pops out every once in a while but is not revealed in this book. Her father is a shaman so perhaps she has inherited some of his magic. I can’t wait to find out. Hanna is vulnerable in a strange land surrounded by untrustworthy people and things that could kill her in a second. However, her instincts and intelligence help her to survive while asking questions and meeting new beings along the way. Death has a plan to marry Hanna to fulfill a prophecy to prevent an uprising in the Land of Death, but he didn’t expect to be so intrigued and addicted to the beauty who has changed his life. After all, the weather has changed for the better since she’s been around and it’s all based on Death’s moods. Is Hanna the one prophesized to marry Death? The exciting cliffhanger leaves us guessing.
I am pleasantly surprised by this gripping dark fantasy filled with curious and obscure characters in a murky, yet breathtaking, setting. It’s on to Book 2 for me.
Thank you to Ms. Halle for giving me the opportunity to read this book with no expectation of a positive review.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Karina Halle is a former travel writer, music journalist & screenwriter, and The New York Times, Wall Street Journal & USA Today Bestselling author of over 55 bestselling novels, ranging from horror and suspense to contemporary romance. She lives on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband, and her adopted pitbull Bruce, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books.
Halle is represented by the Root Literary Agency and is both self-published and published by Simon & Schuster, Hachette & Montlake. Her work has been translated and published in 20 languages.