Review: Echoes of the Runes by Christina Courtenay
Echoes of the Runes is an evocative tale that beautifully combines two strands divided by history. Christina Courtenay shows us present-day Sweden in the same detailed manner as the Viking age on the shores of Lake Mälaren.
Mia is a modern woman. Living and working in London, she is engaged to Charles. Their relationship is pretty normal, or so she thinks. She doesn't worry about them being incompatible in so many areas.
When she inherits her Swedish grandmother's summer house on the shores of Lake Mälaren, she is unsure whether to sell it, as Charles demands, or to keep it. The memories of a happy childhood are hard to ignore.
In a museum, she meets Haakon, a Norwegian archaeologist who accuses her of having kept an item of historic significance – a snake ring dating back centuries. A family heirloom her grandmother had given her!
When it transpires that the land she now owns on the lakeside may hold traces of an old Viking settlement, Mia decides to stay the summer and take part in the dig. What she didn't expect was for Haakon to be in charge!
But not everyone is keen to preserve ancient items in museums. Some are in it for profit – and this puts Mia's life in danger.
Meanwhile, in 9th century Wales, Haukr Erlendsson is looking for loot, and for slaves, to satisfy his greedy wife, Ragnhild. But he does not expect to fall for one of the captives he takes home with him.
Ceridwen, sister of the highest ranking man in her area, knows that her brother will arrive to ransom her. But time passes, and she is put to work by Ragnhild. During this time, she befriends the couple's mute daughter, and a gentle bond of trust develops between the stranger and the child.
Christina Courtenay entwines both stories with warmth, humour, and a sense of danger. In the present day, Mia has a choice to make, as does Ceridwen when the time comes. Their choices mean either sacrifice or unhappiness.
The characters grew on me very quickly, and there are plenty of conflicts for them to face. The story is full of twists, challenging the characters all the time, and making the reading experience truly wonderful.
A beautiful dual-timeline story that stays with you.
Their love was forbidden. But echoed in eternity.
When Mia inherits her beloved grandmother's summer cottage, Birch Thorpe, in Sweden, she faces a dilemma. Her fiance Charles urges her to sell and buy a swanky London home, but Mia cannot let it go easily. The request to carry out an archaeological dig for more Viking artefacts like the gold ring Mia's grandmother also left her, offers her a reprieve from a decision - and from Charles.
Whilst Mia becomes absorbed in the dig's discoveries, she finds herself drawn to archaeologist Haakon Berger. Like her, he can sense the past inhabitants whose lives are becoming more vivid every day. Trying to resist the growing attraction between them, Mia and Haakon begin to piece together the story of a Welsh noblewoman, Ceri, and the mysterious Viking, known as the 'White Hawk', who stole her away from her people in 869 AD.
As the present begins to echo the past, and enemies threaten Birch Thorpe's inhabitants, they will all have to fight to protect what has become most precious to each of them...