Valhalla by L.A. Ashton
Published by: NineStar Press (coming 12.31.18)
Genres: YA, LGBTQ+, Romance, Novella
*This ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest and fair review.
Sakuma has served as a Valkyrie for centuries, smoothly escorting thousands of souls to the grand halls of Valhalla. While the world tears itself apart during WWII, he is summoned to retrieve the soul of a fallen Japanese soldier, Ishii Hiroshi. To Sakuma’s surprise, Ishii refuses his invitation to eternity.
The two meet again and again as the war repeatedly sends Ishii to death’s door, and what should have been a fleeting encounter becomes something much greater for the both of them.
When I first read the synopsis of Valhalla, the premise was difficult to wrap my head around. There were so many elements that just didn’t seem like they would work together cohesively – WW2, Norse Mythology, Japanese characters – but I was wrong.
Ashton balances the numerous elements by keeping the rest of the backdrop pretty vague so that we, as readers, aren’t inundated with information. Yes, it’s World War 2 and gruesome things are happening, but really Ashton could have picked any war. There are really only four characters (two of whom aren’t that important) and the plot is largely character driven/well-paced.
We follow Sakuma and Ishii’s interactions over the course of a few years and watch their relationship grow increasingly intimate. While this is a romance, it isn’t heavily passionate. There is no insta-love and the burgeoning relationship is both moving and believable. There’s actual growth.
I also liked that there was an actual conversation about the atrocities of war and the fact that everyone loses in battles like these. I think that was a moving addition and tastefully done.
The only issue I had with Valhalla is less of an issue and more of a personal preference. I’m a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to mythology so I was a little discomfited by the male Valkyries. Yes, world population and whatnot has grown so there is a need for more Valkyries (which was the explanation they provided in the novella), but I still think they should be women…. Again, this is a personal gripe. Overall, I did like Valhalla and it was an enjoyable, quick read.