Norse myth and magic collides with a small town Tasmanian Christmas in this festive romantic fantasy!
Lief Fraser has mixed feelings about returning home to Matilda, the only Australian town where it always snows at Christmas. As a TV weather presenter, it’s her job to report on the strange holiday phenomenon… but as a local, it’s her duty to preserve Matilda’s many magical secrets.
Then pretty Audrey Astor rolls into town to shoot the ultimate romantic Australian Christmas movie with her film crew. Sparks fly, secrets unravel… and soon everyone will know exactly how Mt Valkyrie got its name.
This book was recommended to me on twitter when I was asking for recs ‘short and light fantasy and/or romance’ and it turned out to be the perfect fit because it’s ALL of those things.
Merry Happy Valkyrie is short and sweet and a very satisfying read. It’s also thoroughly Australian, which I loved. The main character, Lief, is reluctantly returning to her home town after word has gotten out about their snowy Christmases–a very strange phenomenon considering Christmas in Australia is during the summer! Lief, a tv presenter and weather reporter at a TV station, is traveling with her overly enthusiastic camerawoman to do a live broadcast at the scene. Lief feels completely down to earth, but there is a mysteriousness about her centered around her hometown. Why does it snow in summer? Why is the town so opposed to outsiders? What’s really going on there?
Once they arrive in Matilda they find out they are not the only visitors this season. A film crew has been granted the right to shoot there as well and it turns out the person in charge, Audrey, is an former friend of Lief’s. Their relationship, both past and present, is one of the wonderful threads of this story. At first their dynamic is antagonistic and as their history is revealed you really start to feel bad for Audrey when maybe she wasn’t the most sympathetic character at first light. Lief’s character arc over the course of the book is great and goes a long way to repairing and furthering her relationship with Audrey.
This is a shorter book, but it’s packed full of fun and dynamic characters that you can’t help but fall in love with by the end of the story. Lief’s mother is a force to be reckoned with, and the various other inhabitants of Matilda all have their own unique quirks.
The story of Matilda is revealed over time, at first just getting hints and not a ton of exposition, which I loved. When things are explained later, you have pieced together key points on your own and it doesn’t feel like the author is just feeding you a bunch of information.
Overall, I loved this story! The fantasy elements were great, breathing new life into old tales. The romance was sweet and felt realistic. Definitely recommend to anyone looking for a fun fantasy romance for the holidays or anytime really. 4/5 stars.