The Goddess of Nothing At All
By Cat Rector
Genre: Mythology Retelling/Speculative Fiction
QUILTBAG Main Character: Yes
QUILTBAG Minor Character: Yes
Main Character of Color: No
Bechdel Test: Yes
Summary: Sigyn is the daughter of Odin and the only deity without a title. Despite decades of trying, Odin has refused to name her goddess of anything. In her desperation, she seeks out The Trickster, Loki, to teach her magic. Thus begins a relationship that will bring about the end of everything. Sigyn wants the respect of the gods; Loki doesn’t believe the gods are worth it; both of them are pulled closer together yet farther apart. When Loki does the unforgivable, Sigyn finds herself without resources, friends, or many choices. Can destiny be rewritten or is she doomed to watch her horrible role come full circle?
Let’s Get A Little Deep:
I promise I’m not going to just become a Norse myth retelling reviewer. Or at least that’s not my intention. When I picked up this book, multiple people said something along the lines of “another Loki book?” Yes, I told them, another Loki novel! Another fun Norse story with my favorite Norse god and his underappreciated wife! I was so thrilled to be reading it from Sigyn’s point of view as well, because I really do feel that she doesn’t get as much love in most retellings as she should. Little did I know that I was going to be clutching this book close because it had broken me and put me back together entirely. This book was different from any retellings of these myths that I’d read before, and it absolutely devastated me.
The Goddess of Nothing at All follows Sigyn over many decades from searching for a title from Odin, to being a wife and mother, to the inevitable end of days for the gods. It doesn’t start that dramatic. It starts with a daughter begging for recognition from her father. Sigyn is instantly relatable as a daughter who both craves recognition from a parent and is also growing increasingly aware that nothing she does will ever result in her getting what she needs. No wonder she relates so well to Loki, a man exiled from Asgard after decades of doing Odin’s bidding. The two form a bond, seeing in the other things they wish they had, seeing who they want to be. Over the course of the book, however, it soon becomes clear that no amount of love is able to change a person who doesn’t want to change.
As I said in the introduction, this book changes the way we think of most of the Norse myths. The story of Loki and his first child, the eight legged horse Sleipnir, is usually read as funny but Loki’s absence from Asgard while pregnant keeps him from the birth of his first son and leaves him to give painful birth alone only to have his child taken away to be used at Odin’s pleasure. Most of the myths that usually get told as a joke have new lights shining on them so that the reader sees their darker shadows.
By forcing the reader to reconsider the myths we all know, Rector shows how situations and choices can bring us together and pull us apart. It also shows how sometimes love builds and sometimes it destroys. As the book goes on, Sigyn often wishes she could be rid of Loki, that they had never met in the first place. Yet so much of Sigyn’s growth can be credited to what Loki has taught her, and so much of what keeps Loki from going completely off the rails is due to his love for Sigyn. They build each other up even as their love tears them down; them and the very world around them. It is impossible to look away from this hauntingly beautiful, mostly toxic romance.
The Goddess of Nothing at All ultimately is about finding your own title, your own voice, to accept that who we love is not the same as who we are. It is a much needed novel that focuses on a woman often forgotten or maligned in the retellings of her own stories. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me rethink toxic relationships, and it kept me reading for hours at a time.
The first book in the Unwritten Runes series is out now, and I suggest picking it up from your favorite indie bookstore. I suggest Mysterious Galaxy!
Thanks for going a little deep with me! I post reviews every other Thursday. Did you love The Goddess of Nothing at All? Leave a comment telling me a god you don’t think gets enough attention. You can also find me on Instagram @booked.with.grace and on Twitter @gwasserst! Special thanks to Yasi (@ynbushehri) for editing my posts.