Valkyrie Rising

Book review by
Julie A. Carlson, Common Sense Media
Valkyrie Rising Book Poster Image
Norwegian mythology adds interest to muddled fantasy.

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age 12+
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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Norse and Celtic mythology are introduced briefly at the beginning of Valkyrie Rising, and more heavily toward the end. Except for the occassional name of a Nordic town and some brief cultural references, the story could be located anywhere.

Positive Messages

Over the course of Valkyrie Rising, Ellie learns to become more independent, brave and loyal. Being true to yourself as well as learning to trust others and your instincts are themes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ellie is a strong and courageous heroine. She will do whatever it takes to keep her family, friends, and strangers safe, even if it means risking her own life. Ellie must make an important decision in the novel -- to join the Valkyries or fight Odin, the god of Death. Her brother, Graham is extremely overprotective. Their friend, Tucker, watches out for Ellie, too. Ellie's grandmother also looks after her and gives her advice.


Ellie battles Valkyries and Odin using weapons such as swords and knives, or in hand-to-hand combat. The Valkyries get into fist fights and hurt people, sometimes innocent bystanders. There are bar fights and a lot of physical combat. Ellie and Tuck get into a scuffle with a bunch of strangers outside a bar when the Valkyries magically force the fight. In one scene, Ellie is show how to use a gun by Tuck.


Minor kissing occurs between Ellie and Tuck.


"Damn," "crap," "s--t," and "hell." As an insult, a minor character calls Ellie a "filthy Valkyrie." Ellie calls a character "Eurotrash."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Graham, 18, drinks beer at a bar. Ellie, 16, drinks meed, a magical drink given to her. She also drinks beer, which she feels enhances her supernatural abilities. Kjell, a minor character, drinks beer at bar. It's unclear how old the Valkyries are supposed to be, but they enter bars and clubs to chose and capture young men.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Ingrid Paulson's debut novel, Valkyrie Rising, is about 16-year-old Ellie Overholt, who visits her grandmother in Norway for the summer. Young men around the country are disappearing, and the rumor is that mythological Valkyries -- females who capture young men to be dead "soliders" to take to Valhalla, the afterlife, ruled by Odin -- are responsible. Teens, including Ellie, drink beer and get into physical fights. There's some strong language ("damn," "crap," and "sh--t"). Ellie is uses knives and swords and is shown how to use a gun. There's a romance between Ellie and Tuck, 18-year-old brother's best friend, with brief kissing.

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Teen, 13 years old Written by14Faith September 22, 2014


At first I was kinda scared to read the book because of how it sounded but I finally bought the book and ended up loving it. If you are kinda scared to read th... Continue reading

What's the story?

Sixteen-year-old Ellie Overhold vacations at her grandmother's home in Norway for the summer, and her 18-year-old brother, Graham, and his popular friend, Tucker, join her. Tucker has always been kind to Ellie, but their relationship has been hot and cold. While in Norway, she meets Kjell, a young college student and friend of her grandmother's, who warns Ellie that something is happening in Norway -- young men are disappearing, taken by the mythological female warriors known as Valkyries. At first, Ellie doesn't believe the rumors, but when she comes face-to-face with a powerful Valkyrie named Astrid, everything changes. Ellie discovers that she herself is a Valkyrie and that her grandmother has been keeping the truth a secret. When Graham and Tuck arrive, Ellie is worried that she can't keep them safe from being taken. When more and more young men start to disappear, Ellie must take matters into her own hands -- and either join the Valkyries or fight them.

Is it any good?

VALKYRIE RISING IS a book readers will either love or hate. Though the novel's filled with teen angst, fantasy, supernatural elements, and romance, its heart is Ellie. Elements of Norse and Celtic mythology are few and far between. The book could have used much more of the supernatural, the history of the Valkyries, and especially Norweigian culture to make the plot more interesting. Ellie feels a pull toward the Valkyries, who look like supermodels, but only because she's one of them. She never questions why she feels drawn to the violent havoc the Valkyries cause, or her new magical powers, or if Valkyries are even real.

It's wonderful that her brother watches out for her, but his overprotectiveness borders on creepy and goes way beyond sibling advice. Ellie's a big girl and proves that she can handle herself. But Graham, 18, never gives his 16-year-old sis credit and treats her like a child, which irks Ellie, and just might irk readers. The romance between Ellie and Tuck is sweet but feels forced. Early in the novel, Ellie complains about Tuck's egotistical behavior and track record with women, but his supposedly flirty behavior is never shown because from the beginning Tuck only has eyes for Ellie. Valkyrie Rising has an intriguing premise, but falters in the execution.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what makes a good romantic fantasy. Which elements work best in Valkyrie Rising, the romance or the fantasy?

  • How convincing are the supernatural elements work in Valkyrie Rising?

  • What do you know of Norse gods and Norwegian mythology? Does this book make you want to learn more?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy and romance

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