Thursday, June 4, 2020

MG review and Excerpt from Christoffer Johansen and the Return to Jötunheim (Zaria Fierce #7) by Keira Gillett

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Christoffer Johansen and the Return to Jötunheim by Keira Gillett 
Series:  Zaria Fierce #7
Format:  E-ARC
Publisher:  Keira Gillett

Number of Pages:  296
Published:  May 1st, 2020
Source:  Author in exchange for an honest review

Opening Line: "Christoffer Johansen loved magic and adventure, and not just the dungeon and dragons variety."

Christoffer Johansen and the Return to Jötunheim is the first book of Christoffer's series and the seventh book in the Zaria Fierce novels.  At the end of book six,  The Drakeland sword was broken into a dozen shards after it was used in a battle to keep the second of the three dragon brothers from wreaking havoc on the Under Realm.  A fact that Zaria has yet to confess to her mother, Queen Helena. 

 In the latest book, Christoffer traveled with Olaf to the Underrealm where they witnessed goblins gathering along the riverbank, bringing a concern that the goblins might have aligned with the final dragon brother. Olaf also shared that the water level of his river has been declining, seemingly drying up.  Upon bringing the terrible news to Queen Helena, Christoffer is given a note from the Queen to pass to Zaria.  The Queen gives Zaria a quest to replace the Drakeland Sword, the only weapon that can destroy a dragon.  Hoping for answers on how to go about this difficult task, they headed to the witch of Gloomwood Forest but her answers come with a price, they must bring her the first two items that they find in the sea.  She also tells them that "what you seek can only be gained by fulfilling a promise already made."  Which reminded them of the promise they made to bring Master Brown a white raven.  Hoping to secure a raven, Christoffer and his friends then traveled to the realm of giants but were met by resistance and the white raven, Skorri refused to help unless they pass three of his tests. 

My Thoughts:

My summary is a very condensed version of the plot but the story involves replacing a broken sword, a witch, a surly white raven, a giant who has been offended by Zaria's past actions and completing various tests and trials.  The Zaria Fierce series includes Zaria and her friend's journeying across various magical kingdoms acquiring knowledge and allies to prevent the dragon brothers from destroying the Underrealm.  Throw in a few precarious situations, making for an exciting adventure.   There is a mix of modern-day Norway with various magical kingdoms.   There's lots of questing and at the heart of the novels are the relationships between all of the characters.  I really like how the stories are broken down into each character's story arc.  The first three centering on Zaria, then the next three about Aleks and now we get to learn more about Christoffer, the human among his magical friends.  Christoffer doesn't see himself as the hero of the story, not having any magical powers, but his words are probably his best weapon.  He's the peacekeeper between his friends, in tune with everyone's emotions, and first to make a joke or help to defuse tension.  I quite enjoy watching his story evolve.  There's a lot going on in these stories and quite a few books in the series overall, so they really should be read from the beginning.  As always, I love the illustrations by Keira and am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.              


Gazing about at the city around him, Christoffer zeroed in on the unwelcome sight of a tall, lanky figure standing at the far end of the bridge.
“Oh, come on now,” he whined. “I don’t want to be kidnapped again. I’ve got plans this weekend. Good plans. Great plans, even.”
The river-troll cocked his head inquisitively, raising his webbed hands in supplication. “Olaf be not kidnapping you. I be asking for your help.”
Suspicious, Christoffer asked, “If you need help, why are you asking me and not Zaria?”
Olaf scowled. “I be not bothering her with me troubles just yet. I be needing another pair of eyes. You be doing the job nicely.”
“Gee, thanks,” said Christoffer dryly. “You know, I really have to get to school, and I’ve got this thing after with my baby sisters. What about Queen Helena? Is she free?”
“She still be recovering from the last dragon. She not be needing more worries.”
“Queen Helena’s still recovering? Zaria didn’t mention this,” Christoffer said, concerned. “How is she watching over the dragons?”
“She not be watching. She be with me in my river, away from the wretched things,” Olaf said. “Only way to heal.”
“But the Under Realm,” protested Christoffer. “It needs to be protected.”
Olaf waved his hands. “It be protected. King Hector be guarding it.”
“No offense, but Hector’s a tree,” scoffed Christoffer. “I get how he and the Golden Kings keep the dragons from escaping the Under Realm through the barrier of their roots, but Fritjof was able to breach them just a year ago. Who’s to say another dragon can’t do the same?”
“Look, boy,” Olaf growled, causing the hairs to rise on the back of Christoffer’s neck. “It be not for you to decide. Queen Helena be very weak, and she needing to be free of their presence for a time. Somebody need be protecting her like she always be protecting us.”
“Okay, okay, fine,” said Christoffer, giving in. “But I think you should tell this to Zaria. She should know how her mum’s doing.”
“Olaf not be asking her for help unless it be absolutely necessary. Her mother tell me she not be wanting her involved in Under Realm business until there be no other options. Come with me. I must show you this.”
He canted his head. “I’m confused. Didn’t you just say that Queen Helena didn’t know?”
“She not be, but Queen Helena still be wanting Zaria away from the dragons. She wanting her to be a normal girl for as long as possible.”
“I think that ship has sailed,” said Christoffer, wryly.
“It be not for us to decide,” said Olaf, waving his long-fingered hands vaguely.
Despite himself, Christoffer asked, “So, you think you found something related to dragons?”
Instead of answering, the troll half-turned and beckoned, “Come.”
“Oh, all right, I’m coming,” said Christoffer, shrugging his backpack high on his shoulder again. “Let’s go.”
He shook his head at his own folly as he accepted Olaf’s outstretched hand. The cool slick feeling of scales met his warm palm in a disconcerting fashion. Christoffer tried not to grimace as he clambered on top of the wrought-iron railing.
The languid water flowed by in a constant, soft burble as it lapped against the rocky embankment. Looking down at their wavering reflections, he could not imagine he’d willingly be doing something like this, not even in a million years.
“We be jumping on three,” said Olaf, twitching his long, thin fingers.
The water churned, at first sluggishly, and then faster and faster until a whirlpool frothed and foamed. The scene reminded him of another whirlpool and another time four years ago.
*  A huge thank you to Keira for the review copy and permission to post the excerpt from her book.*  


  1. How exciting that there is a 7th book in the series. As soon as I saw the cover I recognized Keira Gillett's style. I love it. Looking forward to read this! I love your enthusiasm for the whole series. :)

  2. To me, MG fantasy often takes on issues in a subtle yet wonderful way. And even when they don't, they are a great escape tool. This sounds great.

  3. This story sounds interesting, thank you for your review of it!