Book Review: The Strange Maid by Tessa Gratton

The Strange MaidThe Strange Maid
The United States of Asgard Book 2
Tessa Gratton
Random House Children’s Books, June 2014
ISBN 978-0-307-97751-9

A wizard is that person who is outstandingly clever, the person of amazing skill and accomplishment; she who practices magick, also known as a conjurer and enchanter. Ms. Gratton epitomizes this definition, she is a true wizard and The Strange Maid confirms it.

As the second in The United States of Asgard Books, I assumed that Signy’s saga would pick up where The Lost Sun left off. (Ms. Gratton throws back her head and wickedly laughs at my basic expectation.) Of course she would never do something so simple, so mundane, so exactly-what-the-reader-expects. No, her way is cooler than the other side of the pillow. Using her mad, magickal skills, Ms. Gratton seamlessly gives the reader a more comprehensive look at Asgard as a whole, then cohesively melds Book 1 and Book 2, evoking a familiarity and comfort level in the oh-so-fortunate-reader.

The passionate, albeit petulant, Signy is such a strong, laudable, endearing character that, truly, Ms. Gratton could have had her eating cereal and still given us a remarkable yarn. This reader couldn’t keep from rooting for the courageously determined, head-strong heroine with a carefully hidden, yet not closely guarded, pure and kind heart.

Signy is plagued by a riddle. She firmly believes that the answer to the riddle will reveal who she is and what she is meant for. This lyrical portrayal of Signy’s journey is captivating and wholly engrossing with colorful and alluring characters all along the way. It is also sneaky and clever in that the journey proves more enlightening than the destination.

True to form, Ms. Gratton masterfully and oh-so-subtly unveils Signy’s self-realizations throughout the story, beautifully presenting growing pains and character developments that all adolescents experience in their voyage to adult-hood. The supporting cast including trolls of all varieties, gods and goddesses and my personal favorite, Glory the Fenris Wolf; keeps this story fresh and wildly entertaining.

Tiny twists throughout amused and delighted me. Ms. Gratton’s uncanny ability to present various points of view is a unique, remarkable trait that keeps the reader open-minded and hopeful. Red-Stripe exemplifies this. Which author could have me terrified of mountain trolls while simultaneously wishing I had my very own Red-Stripe? None other than Wizard Gratton, of course.

I’ve come to learn that whenever I pick up a Tessa Gratton book, I’m in for a special treat. There is no doubt that the tale will be compelling, heart-felt and diabolically funny at times. The other certainty is the plethora of quotes that I pull from each tome: “…that a way of life, a tradition, does not equal truth.” Righteous.

Reviewed by jv poore, September 2014.