Asa is the daughter of a Viking chief whose clan is struggling to survive a never-ending winter. All the able-bodied men head to sea in search of food, leaving behind the children, the elderly, the sick—and Jorgen the skald, the wise man who will stop at nothing to take over the clan. When Asa learns the skald wants to kill and eat her beloved horse, she runs away. But then she meets a strange woman who talks to her two pet ravens, and who warns Asa she’ll have to make a great sacrifice to save her clan. Now Asa must face the biggest challenge of her life in this eerie, absorbing adventure tale.
Asa's Viking clan is suffering from a winter that seems never-ending, her mother has fallen ill, and her father the head of the clan has set sail in a desperate quest for food. But in his absence, the clan's evil skald (storyteller), Jorgen, plots a takeover. Fourteen-year-old Asa escapes in the middle of the night, meeting a strange old woman named Wenda, who talks to pet ravens and helps Asa prepare to return to the clan, both to fight Jorgen and find a way for them all to survive. Multiple perspectives, including Jorgen's, round out Wilson's (Firehorse) tale, making both Asa and the secondary characters emerge as fully developed characters even her horse, Rune, becomes an important player, thick with personality. Although the story takes place over just a few days, Asa matures tremendously, becoming someone capable of sacrificing greatly for the good of her people. Outside of some references to Odin and draugrs, not much places the story as explicitly Viking, but the strength of the storytelling should keep readers rapt through the brutal but satisfying conclusion. Ages 10 14.