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Reviewed by Nina Longfield

One might think two women living one thousand years apart would have little in common with each other especially when one woman is of the Viking era and the other a modern American woman. Yet Amalia Carosella skillfully interweaves the stories of Freydis and Emma throughout her novel, Daughter of a Thousand Years, so that these two women of disparate centuries are kindred spirits. Through the pages, the reader grows to know Freydis and Emma who live a thousand years apart but whose lives are in some ways parallel as both strive to live as they desire.

Around the year 1000 AD, Freydis, daughter of Erik the Red, is a hot tempered, free spirit devoted to her father and the ancient gods of her ancestors. Freydis’ story is not a tale of raging Vikings but that of an independent woman caught in a world changing from the worship old gods to that of a single Christian god. Iceland has converted to the church and the push for conversion has landed on Greenland’s icy soil. Erik the Red refuses to convert and his daughter Freydis, ever loyal her father, resists the pressure to convert as well. Freydis maintains her faith in Thor praying for her freedom to do as she pleases. She marries a man beneath her at her father’s suggestion so that she might achieve her dream of owning her own ship and finding her own destiny. Her pride and calculation might also prove to be her downfall as the Greenland settlement changes more under her brother Leif Erikson’s control.

Over a thousand years later, Emma Moretti has finished college and returns to her small hometown in New Hampshire to teach at the local community college. Emma is the good daughter of a respected congressman up for reelection. Her movements are watched and monitored for any slip up. Emma is trapped between maintaining an image of Christian devotion to support her father’s conservative family values and her longing to follow her own beliefs, which lie in her Icelandic heritage.

Carosella has a skill with words and bringing her characters to life. Daughter of a Thousand Years is well written and an interesting mix of stories from different eras. Freydis’ story feels well researched and paints a different, more domesticated, picture of Viking life.

As for liking Daughter of a Thousand Years, I have mixed feelings. I enjoyed Freydis’ story very much, whereas, I wasn’t overly fond of Emma’s story. Freydis’ story is engaging. She is a strong character and had good cause for her desire of independence and longing to continue worshiping the old gods as her father and ancestors did. Emma’s story was weaker and less engaging in comparison to Freydis’ narrative. I respected Emma’s desire to worship as she felt best for herself, but she seems whiny in her attempts to leave the church or be squelched due to her father’s pending reelection. Overall, Daughter of a Thousand Years was a good novel and the dual perspectives was an interesting approach, but I wonder if the novel would have been better if it had just been Freydis’ story. In the end, I would recommend Daughter of a Thousand Years for Freydis’ story, which was worth reading.

Nina Longfield is a writer living in Oregon’s fertile wine country. When she is not reading or writing in her spare time, Nina enjoys hiking in the hills surrounding her cabin.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Lake Union Publishing. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

Daughter of a Thousand Years