An unknown magic disturbs Hela, Queen of Hel, in her own realm. Angry at the intrusion, she begins to search for the source. At the same time, Brunnhilde the Valkyrie is awoken from disturbing nightmares full of dread, night after night. Uncertain of the cause of the dreams, she only knows that the lack of sleep and the lingering sense of dread are slowly driving her crazy. Could these two events be connected? What could possibly affect the Queen of Hell and a Valkyrie? Find out in Anna Stephens’ Queen of Deception: a Legends of Asgard book from Aconyte Books.
[Note: While I am reviewing this novel independently and honestly, it should be noted that it has been provided to me by Aconyte for the purpose of this review. Warning: My review of Queen of Deception contains some spoilers!]
Greed, vanity, arrogance and mysterious magical objects
Lord John Dee, the Queen’s astronomer, and magician is out for a stroll through the town market. A once close advisor to the queen, he has been pushed out by politics. Suddenly a mysterious merchant calls to him from the shadows. Lord Dee is wary but approaches. The merchant tells him that he has very unique items that only Lord John Dee can appreciate. Lord Dee laps up his flattery and the anticipation builds.
When the merchant finally opens the box, Lord Dee sees a crystal orb and an old book in a language he doesn’t recognize. Dee can feel the magic coming off the objects and after some perfunctory haggling races home with them. He sees them as a way to worm his way back to the queen’s side. But he doesn’t really know what they are, or what they’re capable of. As he begins to experiment with these mystic objects. he is certain that God himself sent them to him. But meddling with things you don’t understand rarely works out well.
Lord Dee has no idea what he’s really messing with or what these objects do. He just is certain that they are meant for him and that he is the only one smart enough to wield and understand them. So he continues to commune with the power behind the objects, weaving spells he doesn’t understand for unknown entities.
Ripples of power reaching out to the Queen of Hel
Hela is bored out of her mind as she receives updates on her kingdom. Suddenly something catches her attention. It’s someone using magic that she doesn’t recognize. It doesn’t seem like an attack but she decides to hunt down the source of the magic. She wants to know what it is, who is using it, and why it was able to reach her in her own realm.
Hela also wants to see if she can use it in her never-ending quest to destroy Asgard. Hela traces the source to 17th-century London and heads out to try and seize it for herself.
Meanwhile, Brunnhilde, the Valkyrie in charge of choosing fallen warriors, has been unable to sleep for a couple of weeks. Every time she tries she wakes screaming and full of dread. Unable to bear the torture any longer she seeks help from Frigga.
When Frigga is unable to find the cause of Brunnhilde’s condition, they bring the matter to Odin. Odin pairs Brunnhilde with Lady Sif and sends them out into the nine realms to track the source of Brunnhilde’s disturbance.
The Bifrost lands them in London, and the hunt is on! The three powerful women begin to hunt for the source of the magic – but who will find it first? And who sent the objects to Lord Dee in the first place? And why? The only thing we can be sure of is that it wasn’t God for the glory of England.
Strong women turning England on its head in Queen of Deception
Stephens crafts a hilarious buddy comedy and a funny anti-hero saga and mashes them together in Queen of Deception. Lady Sif and Brunnhilde are hilarious together. Hela isn’t funny on her own but Stephens pairs her with a human sidekick that plays off her personality perfectly.
Both the Asgardian ladies and Hela bristle at the restraints placed on 17th-century women in London. People, especially men, talking down to them, having to wear dresses instead of pants, and people scoffing at the idea of female warriors, drove all three women crazy. And rightfully so. Watching them try to blend in while still very much standing out made for a great read.
Even though Stephens’ is titled Queen of Deception, Brunnhilde felt like the real subject of the story. She and Sif are certainly the heroes who we are rooting for. Hela is a known villain and openly admits that she only wants the magic to attack Asgard. But Brunnhilde and Sif are trying to protect both Asgard and Earth. Of course, we want these unselfish warriors to find Lord John Dee and end his magical meddling before Hela finds him. Or before something worse happens.
An exciting addition to the Legends of Asgard series
Queen of Deception is an action-packed novel. The Asgardians are always good for an exciting tale but I really loved how Stephen placed these powerful women in a society where everything about them was unwelcomed and set them loose. Watching them fight stereotypes and enemies alike was exhilarating. And having them win the day with only minor male assistance was beautiful.
Stephen really did women right with this story. Every woman out there should read this story and try to absorb just some of the confidence that Hela, Sif, and Brunnhilde exude everywhere. Even when they aren’t sure they can win, they give it their all. It was very inspiring and entertaining at the same time. Of course, men can read Queen of Deception and enjoy the story just as much, but I think it will hit women a little differently.
So Asgard fans will want to pick this book up and Marvel fans will also enjoy it. Those who like magic and mayhem will be pleased with this tale. Women, men, adults, teens, basically, everyone will enjoy Queen of Deception so look for it online and in your local bookstore when it comes out!
My Rating: 9/10
Queen of Deception: a Legends of Asgard Novel by Anna Stephens arrives on March 7th, 2023. Are you interested in reading it? Let us know on Twitter or in The Cosmic Circus Discord. And if you haven’t already, check out our review on The Mask of Silver!