Monday, August 12, 2013

Urban Legends: Mist gives Norse gods the human touch in San Francisco

Image courtesy of Tantor Audio

Truth: I’m a sucker for urban fantasy. I love the idea of Thor shopping at Rite Aid, for example. We as mere mortals are constantly intrigued by the notion of bringing mythical creatures out of their legendary realms and placing them into our mundane human existences to spice up our lives.

Mist, Susan Krinard’s premiere into this genre, is equal parts funny, passionate, and thought-provoking. It is obvious she has a deep knowledge of Norse mythology, and she makes a concerted effort to write her immortal beings in a realistic way – that is, how someone might actually act if they had been around for, well, EVER and had seen it all. You’d probably be rude and have a perpetual sense of self-entitlement too if that were the case.  

The story kicks off with our heroine Mist, a no-nonsense Valkyrie living in modern day San Francisco. All she wants to do is create her custom-made swords for avid collectors in her smelting workshop, spar with her (supposedly) human boyfriend and attempt to live a mundane existence for a change. Her world of grocery shopping and paying rent like the average Joe gets turned upside down when the man she’s been seeing turns out to be not what he seems – and it has grave complications for the world she came from as well as the world she lives in.

Narrator Emily Durante gives a stellar performance. What drives the plot of Mist is the complex relationships the characters have with one another, and Ms. Durante's understanding of this adds an extra layer of enjoyment to the book in its audio form. She finds her way around the toughest Norse name pronunciations and manages to stay consistent with character voices and tone throughout. Her youthful voice can transition from hard-as-nails Mist to seductive Freya to cunning Loki in a snap, and the way she can believably fill the characters’ dialogue with the appropriate emotion in a given scene makes listeners want to hang onto every last word. It is also worth mentioning that the author’s depiction of shape-shifter Loki and Durante’s interpretation of his voice are both very, very sexy.

The dimension Krinard gives to her characters, highlighting their passions, fears, and insecurities makes for a compelling plot involving superhuman beings dealing with very human problems – of love and acceptance, establishing identity, and perhaps most prevalent, seeking how to continue to be valid in an ever-changing world. Even minor characters are significant, and she never loses track of anyone despite the complex storyline.  

The plot of Mist brings home the point that even the strongest of beings still want to be acknowledged and loved, and some will do most anything to attain those goals. Definitely a story that will give listeners food for thought long after it is over, and leave them hungry for the next installment! 


  1. Nice review. Do you think you'd need a lot of background in Norse mythology to appreciate it?

    1. Dear Will,
      Definitely not! It is very straightforward about everything in terms of who's related to whom and you definitely won't get lost.