Title: Claimed by Gods
Author: Eva Chase
Genre: Romance/Urban Fantasy
Version: ARC – ebook
Page Count: 258
Publisher: Ink Spark Press
Notable Notables: It’s reverse harem time!
Recommended Readers: Fans of Norse mythology and multiple pairings (not a slow-burn read)
I wish I could give Claimed by Gods by Eva Chase a higher rating than this. It’s a reverse harem story (something much needed in book publishing period) featuring Norse gods Thor, Loki, Baldur, and Hod and a once-human girl, Aria Watson, who is resurrected to be the gods’ valkyrie, charged with the task of finding the Allfather, Odin. While I didn’t hate it, I didn’t particularly like it much either.
The book has its good qualities. I liked that Ari wasn’t a squeaky-clean heroine and wasn’t painfully edgy to read, either. All her POV chapters had a good cadence to them, and I liked her outlook on things; she behaved and reacted to her situations believably.
However, her motive for doing literally everything so she could protect her younger brother, Petey, felt extremely old hat, and well, boring as far as character motivations are concerned. It didn’t help either that Petey as a character wasn’t fleshed out and was just the sickeningly sweet, doe-eyed innocent little brother trope; a motive was literally all he was, and I’m getting tired of sibling narratives being like this.
I’m tired of female characters especially giving all of themselves just to save a sibling, having no other goals or prospects for their future. Even Ari’s treasured switchblade is a memento from her dead older brother, one she won’t part with (understandable), even refusing to use other weapons because it “wouldn’t feel right” (ridiculous, and honestly, stupid).
I’m also very tired of the urban fantasy trope of the heroine coming from a physically abusive home, but I’m even MORE tired of the trope to tack on an extra layer of sexual assault/rape to deepen her past or whatever the point of that is. Not that these terrible things don’t happen to women–they obviously do–but the amount of times it’s been used to prop up a female character’s foundations is something I want less of unless it’s actually, seriously addressed. There’s got to be more creative ways to create an engaging female heroine than this, and I wish Chase had taken the time to think on it a little more.
I did enjoy the tidbits of Norse mythology that are in the book, but some inter-relationship drama between the gods and their histories are lost between the lines, with Chase leaning heavily on the reader’s assumed Norse mythology knowledge. As someone who learned almost exclusively about Greek/Roman mythology in school, I could’ve used a little more information, especially concerning Baldur and Hod who I know very little about.
The gods themselves were mostly in-character and diverse given what I do know, especially Loki and Thor. (It was really funny to picture them as their original, red-headed selves versus their more recent Marvel counterparts–and okay, yes, I did say screw it and pictured Loki as black-haired Tom Hiddleston, I couldn’t help it.)
But I feel like I only really got significant page time out of Loki and Hod. Maybe that’s because of the four gods, Loki and Hod progressed the furthest relationship-wise with Ari, but Loki’s was the only one that felt natural and true to character. (And if I’m being totally straight with you, the three-star rating is almost solely for the Loki sex scene alone, which, while not perfect, was something I didn’t know I desperately needed.)
The plot of the novel itself was just okay. A lot more of it could’ve been fleshed out along with the characters and their romantic/sexual intentions and relationships with Ari. Too much felt rushed or coming from out of left field just to move or force things along.
I wish more had been done with the dark elves, too, as villains instead of the vicious, mindless horde they were. None of them were named or had much of a presence, and talk about a missed opportunity. We could’ve had a dark elf villain love interest in a harem story, is all I’m saying. Why are dark elves so tragically underused and underrepresented?
Anyway, I’m glad I had the opportunity to try out this novel. It wasn’t downright terrible by any means, but I expected more out of it–and wanted it once I’d got going and saw these characters and what could’ve been, only for it to fall short. Given how rushed the relationships were and that I’ve already received the one I really wanted in this book (Loki), I doubt I’ll pursue the sequel.