A fascinatingly complex world of gods, monsters, and an IT department (which, arguably, could fit into either category depending on the situation), Liesmith by Alis Franklin captivated my attention and didn’t let go. The unique, albeit somewhat familiar, landscape provided a lovely backdrop for a story of Norse gods come to life and possible redemption through love. Intriguing characters became good friends and left me wondering what happens next.
At the intersection of the magical and the mundane, Alis Franklin’s thrilling debut novel reimagines mythology for a modern world—where gods and mortals walk side by side.
Working in low-level IT support for a company that’s the toast of the tech world, Sigmund Sussman finds himself content, if not particularly inspired. As compensation for telling people to restart their computer a few times a day, Sigmund earns enough disposable income to gorge on comics and has plenty of free time to devote to his gaming group.
Then in walks the new guy with the unpronounceable last name who immediately becomes IT’s most popular team member. Lain Laufeyjarson is charming and good-looking, with a story for any occasion; shy, awkward Sigmund is none of those things, which is why he finds it odd when Lain flirts with him. But Lain seems cool, even if he’s a little different—though Sigmund never suspects just how different he could be. After all, who would expect a Norse god to be doing server reboots?
As Sigmund gets to know his mysterious new boyfriend, fate—in the form of an ancient force known as the Wyrd—begins to reveal the threads that weave their lives together. Sigmund doesn’t have the first clue where this adventure will take him, but as Lain says, only fools mess with the Wyrd. Why? Because the Wyrd messes back.
Sigmund is just a plain-looking IT technician for a leading technology corporation in the city of Pandemonium (or Panda, for short). In fact, the corporation, Lokabrenna, provides economic source for the entire city. Sigmund is one of those everyday guys that no one ever notices. His one talent is being able to detect lies (oh, and Sigmund can’t lie). At the beginning of the story, I felt sorry for him. He doesn’t have many friends and seems very lonely. It’s when Sig meets Lain, a really handsome newbie in the Lokabrenna IT department, that things really take off. Their friendship/romance is touching, especially when Lain reinforces Sigmund’s value as a person – attractiveness is more than a specific look. These positive, heartfelt moments generally occurred in the middle of incredible action scenes, so it didn’t feel “preach-y” or “teach-y.” It just was.
Down the rabbit hole into a full-blown Norse mythology tale of adventure that highlights the perils of attempting to change fate, I was enraptured by both the characters and the story arcs. Liesmith begins a bit slow, but details were revealed in a manner that kept me reading and VERY curious. Once the action begins, it never really ends. The gods are out in full force, fighters are fighting, and modern-day folks find out they are more than they ever dreamed. I hesitate to discuss much of the plot because there are so many discoveries – some bigger than others – that make the reading experience so much more. I am more than thrilled to have discovered a fantastic new author to add to my (ever-growing, never-ending) list, and kudos to Ms. Franklin for a superbly twisted plot with a wholly unpredictable, mind-bending ending.