Also be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for The Goddess of Nothing At All!
Perhaps you know the myths.
Furious, benevolent Gods.
A tree that binds nine realms.
A hammer stronger than any weapon.
And someday, the end of everything.
But few have heard of me.
Looking back, it’s easy to know what choices I might have made differently. At least it feels that way. I might have given up on my title. Told my father he was useless, king of gods or no, and left Asgard. Made a life somewhere else.
Maybe I would never have let Loki cross my path. Never have fallen in love.
But there’s no going back.
We were happy once.
And the price for that happiness was the end of everything.
For more information on how the Reading Experience scale, you can find an in-depth explanation on Kriti’s blog. Now, let’s jump right into the discussion…
Kriti: Norse mythology is one of my favorite mythologies and I have come across a few books in the last few months that are inspired or ingrained in it. It is fun to see how they all round out my understanding of the world. What drew me to The Goddess of Nothing at All was it is a tale of growing up, being disillusioned about the world and figuring out one’s stand. The synopsis is beautifully written and that in itself, made me very excited to pick up this book! Erynn, what were your thoughts when you saw the cover and read the synopsis for the first time?
Erynn: I remember you being really excited about this book and when I saw the cover and synopsis it became clear to me why! The cover is gorgeous and mysterious and made me want to know more. After having read the book, it’s clearer what the cover is depicting and it actually gives me shivers now that I’m reflecting back on it all. After I saw the cover, and mentions of Loki in the blurb, I was ready to read this book asap!
Kriti: I feel like the cover needs its special shoutout. I always try to place covers once I finish reading books and this one to me reflects a very rough time in Sigyn’s life. It points to the knowledge she possesses as a god as well as her strength and perseverance. The scene from the book where she is trying to keep the venom off Loki comes to mind and the art on the cover makes me think of how it can show compassion while the story behind the action of holding that bowl is a whole other thing.
World Building, Cast and Mythology
Kriti: Having some knowledge about the Norse universe was very helpful! I had previously read Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology and some of the incidents depicted in the story were familiar. However, that book did not mention Sigyn at all which led to The Goddess of Nothing At All to be quite an engaging read. I was intrigued by how Cat, the author, incorporated Sigyn in these old stories while making it a familiar yet captivating experience for the reading.
Erynn: Oh yeah for sure. I’m not as familiar with Norse myth as I wished I was, although through my research and general interest over the years I’ve stumbled upon a lot of Norse myths. It was exciting to see familiar tales playing out on the page! I think Cat put them together in a very beautiful and engaging way, threading in how each event affected Sigyn and Loki and the world as a greater whole. I found that she balanced the timelessness of the myths with a new, unique story masterfully, to the point where there were times where I was wishing some parts of the book were longer and more detailed!! And it was already a monster!!
Kriti: Haha. I agree! Going in, the length of this book was daunting but by the end I finished, I was so satisfied and so glad that I did not let the length deter us!
I have read a number of books about gods and with gods as protagonists and this one reminded me a lot of Hindu mythology, which was a new connection for me – I just had not reflected on the different mythologies being similar.
Erynn: One of the things that’s always drawn me to mythology is how they reflect on the lives of real people (and in that way, mythologies tend to show similarities with each other from around the world). Many of the issues that Loki and Sigyn experienced in The Goddess of Nothing At All were mirror images of the prejudice and hate that people around the world experience every day… all because of factors out of their control. I was always wondering how much of the horrors they experienced were truly from the myths or extrapolated based on context, details such as the extreme hate toward Argrs and how Loki was abused and manipulated by Odin.
Kriti: I hadn’t thought of how much was true but based on what I remember from Norse Mythology, the gist of the story did not change. I like the mystery of what was real and what was creative and I would not spoil that for me. 🙂
Erynn: I’m going to have to read Neil Gaiman’s book soon!
Kriti: That was a really good point, Erynn! The part about the Argrs was well written and it reflects the realities of our world. Our world is reflected in this one seamlessly. Loki was so well done! I haven’t researched his back story and learning his origins was astonishing. I never imagined Odin to be such a selfish god and yet he is. They all are. They are always going after self-interest and honestly, if I didn’t know better and they didn’t have powers, they would not even be gods. Loki gave me a tough time though. I hated his thoughtless actions with a passion but I equally hated the judgement that the other gods passed. There was just no winner. All round losing.
Erynn: I definitely had a love-hate relationship with Loki in this book. His character was amazingly well done, and there were moments where I felt his pain viscerally. I wanted him to succeed and stop making mistakes or falling into the traps the other gods set for him. But at the same time, because of the book being from Sigyn’s perspective, you also really get a sense of the pain he always causes her, often thoughtlessly. He never seemed to realize just how much he made her suffer until the end of the book, where it’s far too late to overturn those mistakes.
At times, it was very painful to read! There were moments where I teared up from anger or sadness at what was happening. I just wanted Loki to pay attention and stop making the same mistakes!
Kriti: So many times in general fantasy, not ingrained in a mythology setting, there is a god and we don’t see or interact with them beyond worship. To have gods as living and breathing characters who are afraid of impending doom is a unique narrative to follow. I really liked how gods have to earn their title from Odin and the struggles that Sigyn had and why. Why would a father be so ignorant of giving his daughter the one thing she wants? Why would he put challenge after challenge in front of her and continue to give no better feedback?
Erynn: I think when you look back, after reading the whole story, some of Odin’s behaviour makes more sense. I think he was afraid to give his daughter anything because he was afraid of causing Ragnarok and knew she would play a part in it somehow.
But by rejecting Sigyn, and pushing her toward Loki, and then acting with malice against Loki and Sigyn at every turn, he ultimately brought them toward Ragnarok faster. It’s the irony of the whole story, in the end, how he tried so hard (it’s actually subjective if he tried hard at all, but he thinks he did) to prevent Ragnarok and in actuality did everything in his power to cause it.
Kriti: I felt The Goddess of Nothing At All portrayed a very fine balance between believing in prophecy and shaping destiny with personal choices. There were aspects of the story where it seemed like Sigyn had agency and it was possible to have a different outcome. Thinking about this now, it also allows a writer to play with different outcomes without really affecting the real timeline and keeping the reader engaged. I never wanted to assume that the path I thought Sigyn would take would be the one because of this very reason.
The world of Asgard and the gods was so normal and so extreme in its unique way. I loved how Cat was true to the representation of Loki and Thor. Their comradery and fights were amusing as well as heartbreaking.
Erynn: A big part of my perception of Norse gods is shaped by other adaptations of the myths such as Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and the Marvel Universe since. In the Marvel world, there are several films featuring Thor, Loki, and Odin, and now Loki even has his own TV show. I think the gods shown in MCU are much different from those in mythology, and yet there are a lot of similarities too, such as the camaraderie between Thor and Loki, like you said. I think the movies leaned toward giving the gods a more heroic story and personalities that don’t necessarily reflect the realities of the myths.
In American Gods, though, Odin is just as selfish as he is in The Goddess of Nothing At All! In a way, I think both of those books do a good job at portraying the human sides of gods, including their selfishness and pain, which isn’t very common in stories about gods because of the reason you said: they’re usually observed from a distance or worshipped, not really a part of the story.
Kriti: I haven’t read American Gods. I could not get into the show so your comment is quite helpful here. I agree that the Marvel universe portrays everyone more as heroes but as readers, we want to see real characters. Not everything has to be relatable but it does need to make sense.
I don’t know a lot about the other gods but it was not overwhelming to see them interwoven into the story. They each had an important role to play and at no point did I feel that there were extras that should not have been mentioned.
Erynn: I really liked how just about every god mentioned in the story had a significant role for at least some part of the plot or Loki and Sigyn’s development as characters. Through their relationship with the other gods, we also got to witness the world of Asgard expanding as more myths and lore were brought into the story.
The only god I really had any complaints about was the one who appeared near the end, another one of Odin’s children–I can’t even remember his name–but is the one who slew Fenrir.
Kriti: This was such an immersive read! I was kind of frustrated that I kept being interrupted and could not read the last 40% of the book in one sitting. 😀 Once I finished, I had to take a break because starting another book about an awesome book is not fair to the following book… things we learn from reading a lot. 😉
Erynn: I started reading the book on my long drive home and I was really glad to be able to just sit and read for 6 hours straight without having to stress about not doing anything but reading! There were several times where I was checking the % of progress on my Kindle after something big and dramatic happened and sighing with relief that I was only 25% or 35%, etc of the way through. I didn’t want it to end!
Kriti: I wasn’t expecting the timeline of this book to be as long as it was but it makes sense because time passes differently for immortal beings. It helps develop the characters and really flesh them out as they could experience so much.
Erynn: It’s always interesting seeing how the timeline affects the character development and world building of a book. As humans we tend to change a lot over the course of our lives, but at the start of the book, I believe Sigyn was already about 80 years old. Her character changed and grew quite a bit over the course of the book, but rather than it being milestones like teenager, adult, middle-aged, etc. that defined her life and growth, it was more like major, life-altering events like returning Loki from a century-long exile that changed her.
Kriti: I hadn’t quite realized the relationship between Midgard and our real world until I read this book. The fact that people were losing faith in gods and its relationship to the coming of Ragnarok was very interesting to read and making connections with my prior knowledge kept me engaged.
Erynn: Yes! I never made the connection between the change in our world and the coming of Ragnarok before reading this book. It made me wonder if all the horrible things that happened to Loki and Sigyn for the sake of “preventing Ragnarok” were ever necessary. There are a couple hundred years as a gap in time in the book, so I guess we won’t know. But I do wonder if Ragnarok was inevitable simply because of the evolution of human society and beliefs, and nothing any god did to each other had anything to do with it.
Kriti: The Goddess of Nothing At All is a very satisfying read. It is about life with its tensions and curveballs while at the same time, it is about finding one’s place in the world. Sigyn is a powerful protagonist and I loved getting to know Loki through her. Norse gods are so brutal and the number of gray characters in this book make it very hard to choose a side. There is no right or wrong. There are just consequences and we have to live with them.
About the Author
Cat Rector grew up in a small Nova Scotian town and could often be found simultaneously reading a book and fighting off muskrats while walking home from school. She devours story in all its forms, loves messy, morally grey characters, and writes about the horrors that we inflict on each other. Currently, she lives in Belgium with her spouse. When she’s not writing, you can find her playing video games, spending time with loved ones, or staring at her To Be Read pile like it’s going to read itself. The Goddess of Nothing At All is her debut novel.