The Amber Necklace by Alex Pyott is a superb juxtaposition of Norse type mythology and modern-day life with both a fantasy and mystery twist. Once you add to that some romance, then you will get all the feels.
Jade Platt is a photojournalist with a daily paper in London. She is struggling to cope with something similar to PTSD, which means she is haunted by the time that she spent in Aleppo covering the Syrian crisis. Her grip on reality is tenuous. She is sent on a job to interview Freya Rykkel, a minor member of Norwegian royalty, about her supposed relationship with a member of the British Royal family. Once the two meet, you start to realise that all is not as it seems.
The mystery comes when the happenings in the 9th century in Norway are related somehow to the present day, and Pyott manages to show how the two different timescales can be beautifully entwined.
Jade Platt has short hazel hair, dark skin, and small breasts meaning that she has had no trouble in playing a boy to get to places to cover a story. She starts this story struggling to get through a day, taking it step by step and often zoning out of events around her. She hasn’t recovered from the happenings in Aleppo, and she is unable to face the photographs she took there. Her character is involved; the story follows her through her uncertainties and her attraction to Freya. She needs to be with Freya, and all that entails. As she moves forward, we see glimpses of something mystical, perhaps Jade’s purpose, but it is a mystery that deepens, and I was enchanted.
Freya Rykkel is a chestnut blond with dimples. When Jade first meets her, she ‘takes her breath away’ and puts her in mind of Cinderella, ‘glass slippers and all.’ She wears an amber pendant on a silver chain, which is part of the story from Norway in the past. Freya is vague about some things and makes assumptions about who knows which facts about her. It adds to the mystery of the story, and Pyott takes you through several surprises that ensure Freya remains pivotal to the story.
From the beginning, Ylva is a vital character to the story. Her machinations in 9th century Norway mean she is thought of as a witch by her clan and ignored by most of them. She is not a witch, but it is not until the end of the book that we work out who and what she is. Ylva struggles with whatever she tries to do for most of the story and has me smiling at some of her actions and pronouncements.
The Writing Style
Pyott has a natural style, and the story swings along effortlessly. It kept me enthralled. The mystery which is at the heart of the story is carried through the story well, and we learn small pieces as the story progresses and as Jade finds things out herself. Sometimes she misses points, is assumed to know other details or doesn’t ever ask the right questions, but the mystery keeps us in the story. The world-building in Norway is exquisite. I could smell the mud, and its contrast with modern-day France, for example, is one of the high spots for me.
The link between the Norse world and how the events there are reflected in the modern-day story is a particularly strong point for me. There is much of the mythology element that is cruel, and some of the modern story has some sad moments, but there is lots of humour, and I found myself smiling.
The characters are well written, and their journeys are excellent. If you add to this the descriptions and the world-building, then it means you are in for a treat.
This book has everything that I love about a story. It is different; it has mystery; it has fantasy; it has a romance that keeps you guessing, and once you pick it up, you will be engrossed. It is a long read and one that keeps giving pleasure.
Excerpt from The Amber Necklace by Alex Pyott
“Do you do that to everything?” Freya asked.
“I don’t know. I guess I do. An old habit, I suppose.”
“It’s okay. You must be a detail person.” Freya smiled. “Have you been here before?”
“No. It looks interesting.” Jade glanced at one of the pictures. It was a signed photograph of Audrey Hepburn. “I wonder if these are originals.”
“I suspect so. This place is old.” Freya leaned into Jade to examine the picture as well. “You know, you look like her.” “
“Audrey Hepburn, when she was in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. It’s one of my favourite films.”
Once they were seated at a small table by the window, Freya squinted at Jade and wrinkles formed on the bridge of her nose. “You are also like someone I knew many years ago. You’re not her, are you?”
“I don’t think so. We’ve not met before. I would’ve remembered,” Jade said seriously.
“Maybe you have amnesia?” Jade smiled.
“I don’t think so.” “Hmm. I don’t know. I—”
A portly man interrupted her. “Good afternoon, Kjønnshar. I’ll be with you shortly.”
Jade glanced at Freya in puzzlement over the name.
“Kjønnshar means pubic hair in Norwegian, but he is not saying it right,” Freya explained. Jade released a sudden laugh. “What? You told him your name was pubic hair?”
“Sure, why not. He doesn’t know. It’s better than most names I tell people.”
A moment later, the man returned. Jade assumed he must be the owner. “What can I get for you today?” he asked.
“A coffee, please and one for my friend, Enkel,” Freya answered. “And something, some pastries. I don’t mind which.” When the man left, she turned to Jade. “Enkel means simple. So I ordered for you. I don’t want to overstretch you.”
Jade rolled her eyes. “Thanks a bunch.”
There was an awkward pause, and Jade glanced down to see Freya’s necklace against her pale skin. “Beautiful,” she said.
“You mean my boobs or my necklace?”
Jade put her hand on her forehead. “God, not your boobs, I mean—”
“You don’t like my boobs?”
“Freya!” Jade stammered. “I was looking at your necklace.”
“What’s wrong with my boobs?”
“Nothing, they are—” Jade was hugely relieved when the man placed two coffees and a selection of patisseries.
“Thank you,” Freya said. “Do my boobs look okay to you?”
“Um, Yes, Kjønnshar, they are fine,” the man stammered and beat a hasty retreat when they both burst out laughing.
“You’re incorrigible,” Jade said.
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781949290028
- Publisher: Bedazzled Ink Publishing Company
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