Book Review: Forest Child by Heather Day Gilbert

Since today is International Viking Day, and the title I’m reviewing this week seemed a particularly good thematic fit, I’m posting this week’s blog post a day earlier than normal. Happy International Viking Day!

Title: Forest Child
Author: Heather Day Gilbert
Publisher: WoodHaven Press
Published: October 2016
Series: Vikings of the New World Saga, Book 2
Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction

About the Book: (from the author’s Web site)

Viking warrior. Dauntless leader. Protective mother.

Determined to rise above her rank as the illegitimate “forest child” of Eirik the Red, Freydis launches a second voyage to Vinland to solidify her power and to demand the respect she deserves. She will return home with enough plunder to force her brother, Leif, to sell her the family farm in Greenland.

But nothing can prepare her for the horrors she must confront in Vinland…and nothing can stand in her way when her family is threatened.

In her race to outrun the truths that might destroy her, Freydis ultimately collides with the only enemy she cannot silence—her own heart.

Historically based on the Icelandic Sagas, Forest Child brings the memorable, conflicted persona of Freydis Eiriksdottir to life. This immersive tale is Book Two in the bestselling Vikings of the New World Saga.

My Thoughts:

It was a long wait between the release of the first and second books in Heather Day Gilbert’s Vikings of the New World Saga, and then it was a while more before I could make the time to squeeze that second book into my reading schedule. But now that I have read it, I can say that Forest Child is so worth the wait.

If you have read and enjoyed God’s Daughter, then you’ll definitely want to find out what’s going on with Freydis, a colorful secondary character in that tale, who takes center stage in Forest Child. If you haven’t, then I have one word for you:


Yep. These two historical novels are based upon The Saga of the Greenlanders about the Vikings’ exploration of North America. I would recommend starting with God’s Daughter and reading the whole series through at once, though Forest Child could be read as a stand-alone, if you really want to.

Freydis, the lead character in Forest Child, is a strong woman who doesn’t trust easily, and who alienates a lot of people. But with her as the first person viewpoint, the readers know her motivations for the things she does, and we can empathize with her feelings and her reasons, even as we cringe at many of the decisions she makes along the way. And with the story told in the present tense, there’s an unusual level of immediacy, naturally drawing the reader in to experience the story’s vivid descriptions and historical details as if it were all happening right now.

Themes of marriage, motherhood, and family ties give this story many layers, but for much of the plotline, I wasn’t sure where the Christian element would fit in. We don’t start out with a strong Christian character like we did in God’s Daughter. But looking back on it now, I can see how the twists and turns in Freydis’s journey were leading her to a point where she could come to an important realization and make some much needed changes in her life. That’s where the Christian element fits in, and in my opinion, this kind of redemptive story is very much worth telling and worth reading.

Highly recommended. Particularly for those fascinated by Viking history, as I am.

Thank you to the author for providing a complimentary electronic copy of this ebook for review purposes.

Quick Links: About the Book | About the Series | Author’s Site

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