REVIEW: Ragnarok Unwound by Kristin Jacques

I received a review copy of this book through Netgalley; all opinions are my own and honest.

Summary: Prophecies don’t untangle themselves.

Just ask Ikepela Ives, whose estranged mother left her with the power to unravel the binding threads of fate. Stuck with immortal power in a mortal body, Ives has turned her back on the duty she never wanted. 

But it turns out she can’t run from her fate forever, not now that Ragnarok has been set in motion and the god at the center of that tangled mess has gone missing. With a ragtag group of companions — including a brownie, a Valkyrie, and the goddess of death herself — Ives embarks on her first official mission as Fate Cipher — to save the world from doomsday.

Nothing she can’t handle. Right?

Genre(s): Adult, Fantasy, Mythology (Norse & Hawaiian)
Representation: APIDA (Hawaiian main character & her father), strong female characters & friendships
Content warnings: death and near-death experiences, mentions of torture

Series: Ikepela Ives #1
Publisher: Sky Forest Press
Release date: January 8, 2019 
Book links*: Goodreads | Book Depository | IndieBound

*These include affiliate links, which means that if you click through and buy a book I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. [Full disclaimers here.]


2 stars

I love that mythologies besides Greco-Roman are on the rise (Norse; APID(A): Asian/Pacific Islander/Desi (American) – in this case Hawaiian; Native American; Egyptian; etc.), but it also means the market is starting to become oversaturated and I need to stop leaping for books just because of their premise. (Plus, the “diversity” in this book is split between “bronze-skinned” characters on the Hawaiian side and “inhumanly pale and attractive” on the Norse side.) I also really appreciated the strong female relationships, particularly since they took precedence over the too-convenient heterosexual romances.

This one had an interesting idea, but I found it generally underdeveloped. I wasn’t quite sure what was going on in terms of worldbuilding – it’s implied that all the mythologies are true, a la Riordanverse, but besides a couple of exceptions it’s limited to the Norse pantheon and Hawaiian deities – and the Fate Cipher role itself seemed to be defined as “whatever keeps the plot on track,” with far too many instances of perfectly-timed divine intervention and frankly illogical developments, leaning heavily on the “main character doesn’t know her own strength but will somehow manage to save the world through good intentions and sheer force of will and convenient magical abilities” trope. In addition to the unnatural progression of Ives’ powers, the plot development seemed a little contrived, hinging on offhand comments and random remembrances, and it was far too easy to figure out what was happening because the POV jumps gave the reader much more information than the characters could know – the villain and their plot were completely obvious.

While I’ve found that excellent prose can make up for a formulaic plot, that unfortunately wasn’t the case here. The action was bogged down by an excess of description, ominous statements, and a lot of cliched turns of phrase; the characters were pretty archetypical and lacked nuance. I also found the attempts at modernization a little jarring, and not altogether relevant to the story.

So with all that said, it definitely wasn’t for me, but if you like modern mythology with strong female leads and you’re less nitpicky than me, it’s probably still worth a try.

4 thoughts on “REVIEW: Ragnarok Unwound by Kristin Jacques

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