Rise of the Northmen is an engrossing collection of erotica novelettes with a theme of Vikings, mythology, and the supernatural. The five stories included share a common thread: a primary female character who has both strength and undeniable sexuality.
The anthology begins with “Fathoms,” a surprising, creative, and almost shocking story by Mark Henry. Here, Solveig, mourning the death of her husband and Viking warrior Jerrick, suspects she’s being lied to regarding the circumstances of his demise. As she embarks on a quest to discover the truth, she finds herself on a twisted erotic journey involving a sea monster and Jerrick’s fellow warriors.
In “Mark of the Raven” by Alyssa Breck, Kára has been called to Valhalla and now bears the mark of a Valkyrie. She has left her mortal love, Gram, behind on earth, and when Gram is marked for death by a visiting raven, Kára is willing to sacrifice everything dear to her to save his life… but even that may not be enough.
Paul Goat Allen’s “Wildflower in Snow” tells Gyda’s story as she struggles to survive during the collapse of her doomed village. Her intense love for Søren, a man who is not her husband but her one true love, fuels her strength in this mythical, erotic, and harrowing but ultimately beautiful tale.
Throughout this collection there are beautiful maidens, brave Valkyrie, and dangerous, sometimes brutal, but irresistible men, with sensual and graphic sex smoothly incorporated into the narratives. Each story is compelling and well developed, with fully realized characters and complete, satisfying plots.
Both “Fathoms” and “The Wolf Who Swallowed the Sun” have elements of horror, but the blood and gore aren’t terribly graphic. The latter is perhaps the one story that doesn’t fit with the rest, due to its more current setting. Also, although an enjoyable read, the plot is more complicated than the others, with almost too much detail for the short format.
Overall, however, Rise of the Northmen performs well as an anthology. With its array of interesting characters and stories laced with palpable chemistry and desire, it’s a captivatingly unique collection for those who enjoy darker, edgy, graphic erotic romance with a nod to myth and fantasy.