The Navigator's Touch

256p. glossary. Duet. Sept. 2018. pap. $16.99. ISBN 9781945053702.
Gr 9 Up—While Seafarer's Kiss focused on Nordic mermaid Ersel's pursuit of freedom, love, and legs, this companion novel is Ragna's story. Beginning with the godborn origin of her powerfully accurate navigational tattoos and the slaughter of her village in order to capture her magic, Ragna's survival and quest for revenge take front stage. With Ersel's assistance in her kraken form, thanks to the trickster god Loki granting her more legs than she bargained for in the first book, Ragna and a crew of reluctant Vikings fight their way through icebergs, fenrir (Asgardian monster-wolves), and one another to reach Ragna's homeland. When they find her town guarded by one of Loki's deadliest creatures, Ragna's band must form an alliance with Jarl Honor, a dark-skinned female ruler of a nearby settlement, Honor's genderfluid deputy, and, in desperation, Loki. Ragna's commitment to Loki promises a continuation of this exciting and violent quest with mostly female leads and fascinating mythology. Many Old Norse terms are defined in a glossary. Also included in both front and back matter are content warnings. These unnecessary alerts for what is clearly a potentially barbaric adventure—the attractive cover features raging waters, a Captain Hook–like female warrior holding an axe, a menacing tentacle curled alongside the ship, and skulls floating in the churning sea—are very concerning.
VERDICT This companion novel elevates the captivating stories of mermaid Ersel and warrior-captain Ragna introduced in Seafarer's Kiss. Fans of mythology adventures will embrace this high-action, emotional, and gory tale.

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