Self-Published Book Review: “Odin’s Promise” by Sandy Brehl

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When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review:

odin's promise sandy brehl

mipa - midwest independent publishing association's midwest book award winner

Odin’s Promise

by Sandy Brehl

ISBN: 9781977216168

 

Synopsis*:

ODIN’S PROMISE is a historical novel for middle-grade readers, a story of the first year of German occupation of Norway in World War II as seen through the eyes of a young girl.

Eleven-year-old Mari grew up tucked safely under the wings of her parents, grandma, and her older siblings. After Hitler’s troops invade Norway in Spring 1940, she is forced to grow beyond her “little girl” nickname to deal with harsh new realities. At her side for support and protection is Odin, her faithful elkhound.

As the year progresses, Mari, her family, and her neighbors are drawn into the Norwegian underground resistance movement.

“Readers will cheer for Mari as she discovers her inner strength – and the courage to help celebrate Norway’s spirit of resistance.” — Kathleen Ernst, author of American Girl’s Caroline Abbott series and Chloe Ellefson Mystery series.

“Beautifully written, emotionally taut novel of one girl’s coming of age during war time.” — Gayle Rosengren

 * courtesy of Amazon.com

Reviews

Odin’s Promise is a real coming of age story.  At first, Mari is a shy, quiet girl who frightens easily, but the reader can see how the circumstances she finds herself in enable her to find the courage and strength to grow and to do what needs to be done, even in the face of overwhelming threat on the part of young impulsive Nazi soldiers.

Resistance stories are among my favorite kind of WWII narratives.  While I like the stories of hidden organized armed resisters, I really like to read about the ordinary citizens who loved their country so much that they not only refused to support the occupation, but actively did what they could to make thing more difficult, or even to just annoy their occupiers.  Mari, her friends and school children all over Norway wore red hats every do to show their loyalty, and irate the Germans.  Norwegians are very patriotic,  and were very loyal to King Haakon VII after he escaped the Nazis and that really comes across in Sandy Brehl’s debut novel about Mari and her family.

There is lots of Norwegian culture included in Odin’s Promise, particularly around the wedding of Mari’s sister Lise, where outright defiance of Nazi orders was the real order of the day.  And be sure to read the Author’s Note at the end of the novel to learn all about how Sandy came up with some of the ideas for Odin’s Promise that give it such a feeling of authenticity.  And remember, there is a glossary included in the back matter that will help with both Norwegian and German words used.  And, just in case Sandy has peaked your curiosity about Norway and the Resistance in WWII, she has provided at very nice bibliography, including other middle grade novels about set in the same time with similar themes.

I found Odin’s Promise to be a beautifully told story of courage and perseverance in the face of immense challenges. Mari’s very appealing as a main character, an eleven-year-old girl whose 1940 Norwegian village has been taken over by the Nazis. She struggles to adjust to the often frightening changes in her world. But through it all her beautiful Norwegian elkhound, Odin remains by her side. But after Odin makes enemies of some of the soldiers, Mari really starts to worry about how she and her family will survive.
I’ll admit that one of the first things I did after I started reading the book was look up Norwegian elkhounds on the internet. I wanted to know what they looked like. As you can see from the picture above (from the American Kennel Club website), they are beautiful dogs.  Odin, it turns out is mostly black with white only on the tips of his paws and the tip of his tail. I confess I fell in love with Mari and Odin’s relationship from the first page.
Not only is this a sweet story about the relationship between a girl and her dog, but also the strength of the human spirit in finding ways to keep one’s hope up in the face of sometimes heart-breaking circumstances. For those who enjoy historical fiction, I can heartily recommend this one!
– excerpted from Heidi’s review on the Geo Librarian
What I Thought –
I loved this story! I first read about the German occupation of Norway and the Norwegian resistance in Steve Sheinkin’s BOMB and I thought the subject was interesting. I like World War II history and that time period in general, so this book was something I really wanted to read. While reading this book, I learned even more about the Norwegian resistance and the culture/history of Norway. Ms. Brehl wrote a believable, exciting story with characters you care for. I like that she wrote a sub-plot into the story to show that sometimes even the “enemy” is thrown into situations they can’t help being in or maybe don’t want to be in. Mari is a great main character. The reader can really understand how she feels throughout the story. Ms. Brehl includes a bibliography and glossary in the back section of the book , which is very helpful. I enjoyed the descriptions of the Norwegian setting. I could picture the small streets and hillsides in my mind. It is a good contrast when Ms. Brehl describes the beautiful scenery and the harsh reality of the German occupation. I liked learning about the rationing during this time and how the citizens bartered with and helped one and other. I completely enjoyed this book!
Five out of five bookworms for Odin’s Promise!
– excerpted from Erik’s review on This Kid Reviews Books

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