‘Elsker’ (Elsker Saga #1) by S. T. Bende

*This review will contain spoilers!*

Firstly, and most importantly, I need to say a massive thank you to S. T. Bende, for sending me an electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I hadn’t heard of the Elsker Saga before I had the opportunity to read and review it, but I will probably be buying the next two books in the New Year, because it’s a story that I’d definitely like to continue on with.
‘Elsker’ is a New Adult novel that tells the story of Kristia Tostenson, a girl from a one-spotlight town called Nehalem who decides to start living her life, based off of the advice of her best friend, Ardis, and decides to transfer to Cardiff University for a year as an exchange student. Once in Cardiff, she meets the dreamboat Ull Myhr, who is automatically abrasive and rude towards her, irritating and intriguing her in equal measures. As they start to get closer she still holds back, terrified about the ‘nice Ull’ reverting back to his brutish counterpart, but it’s not long before she’s fallen head over heels in love with him. Everything’s going swimmingly – until she finds out he’s a mythological God?!
I absolutely adored the first half of the novel. Yes, it had aspects of a lot of YA novels that I’d read (most blatantly, ‘Twilight’: clumsy, awkward girl relocates to a new town and falls for an out-of-this-world beefcake – check! Accepts his paranormal/otherworldiness without batting an eyelid, check!) but it was endearing: I loved Kristia’s character, her interactions with her roommates, Emma and Victoria, were funny and endearing, and Ull had enough intrigue to keep me turning pages. However, after the first half it just went downhill quite quickly, because nothing was happening.
You might be thinking – of course there was something happening, there were pages flicking past so there must have been events – but really, it was nothing of consequence. The arguments between Ull and Kristia grated on my nerves, he kept trying to control her and she kept defying him so there was quite a big impasse there, so I just wanted to bang their heads together to shut them up. Their relationship was equally annoying – her constantly trying to jump his bones while he desperately tried to stay chivalrous wasn’t attractive in the slightest, and the fact that he proposed to her and then exclaimed “I hope you want a short engagement” was an obvious ploy to get her into bed, so that exasperated me even further. I knew this was the first book in the trilogy, so I was expecting a lot of set up, but after the first half of the novel it was all just unnecessary babble.
Don’t get me wrong, there were some scenes that I enjoyed. All of Kristia’s visions were ominous and threatening, sending chills down my spine, but as soon as Kristia told us ‘I didn’t see the Elf Man again while I was at Cardiff’ a little piece of me gave up all hope, because the Elf Man premonitions were so utterly captivating and heart racing that I was desperate for another one. I do think it was clever of S. T. to make sure to write that in, because if there are many readers that are like me they won’t be able to resist picking up the second book, just to see when the Elf Man reappears, and what he does to Kristia.
Furthermore, the mythology spread throughout the book interested me in a way that most things don’t. Maybe this is because I’ve always been interested in mythology – particularly of the Norse gods – but I’m almost definite that it was because of S. T’s gorgeous writing style. The appearance of Thor towards the end of the novel was a stroke of genius (who doesn’t love Thor?! Even though this wasn’t the gorgeous Chris Hemsworth, I still couldn’t help picturing him while reading the novel) and the knowledge that Kristia can be turned into a God was also intriguing, but the fact that it wasn’t exactly explained how that can occur left me feeling a little bit cold. The ending of the novel cemented that feeling; knowing that Kristia and Ull are going to get married in the next book makes me worry that that will be the focal point of the next installment in the series, when I really just want that over and dealt with so that we can move on with the action that I’m sure will be occurring while Kristia trains to be a goddess.
If you’re thinking about picking up ‘Elsker’, I would definitely suggest buying the Kindle box set of all three novels (and the shorter novella) because I found it to be a very quick read, and because of where it finishes you definitely need to pick up the second book quickly. I’m going to try and read it within the next month or two, because my interest is definitely piqued at the moment and I’m sure that the story is going to speed up in the future installments, but if you’re looking for an action filled novel, don’t just pick up the first segment of this saga, because it’s much more character driven than I’d been expecting. I really wanted to love this book, but I’m coming away feeling quite ambivalent – hopefully I’ll be swayed in the positive direction over the next book or two.