14 May 2014

Review: God's Daughter by Heather Day Gilbert

4.5 Stars for a Unique Historical Novel

It is 1000 AD, and Gudrid is one of the few women on a Viking expedition to upper North America, to rediscover Vineland and bring great wealth back to Leif Eiriksson, their chieftain. She is the wife of Thorfinn Karlsefni, the expedition leader, mother to Snorri, the unofficial leader of the small band of women on the expedition—and the unwilling object of the affections of several of the men. Gudrid stopped worshipping Thor when she was a child and the capricious god demanded her mother as a sacrifice to guarantee a good harvest. As an adult in Iceland, she learned of the one true God from the monks, and she now follows Him.

God's Daughter is a character-driven family saga, told entirely in first person from Gudrid’s point of view, and in the present tense—an interesting choice for a story set 1,000 years in the past, but one that’s strangely effective. Her voice is understated, deliberately downplaying the everyday struggles for survival in Viking society, a culture that still worships Thor and where life includes many pagan rituals.

It is obvious that a huge amount of research has gone into God's Daughter, and while that research comes out in the depth of the narrative around the people, culture and lifestyle, it’s never overbearing and it never gets in the way of the story (although the names were a little difficult at times, because they were so unfamiliar).

The distance of time makes it impossible for us to really know what life was like in the Viking camp of Straumsfjord or the village of Brattahlid in Greenland, but the majesty and the savagery both come alive in the excellent writing. I came away feeling I had a real understanding of Viking life (certainly more than enough to be thankful I live now!).

God's Daughter is recommended for readers who enjoy well-researched historical fiction set in less well-known times and places, from author such as Iris Anthony (aka Siri Mitchell) or Sharon Penman.

Thanks to the author for providing a free ebook for review.

About Heather Day Gilbert

Heather Day Gilbert enjoys writing stories about authentic, believable marriages. Sixteen years of marriage to her sweet Yankee husband have given her some perspective, as well as ten years spent homeschooling. Heather is a monthly contributor to Novel Rocket, a site dedicated to bringing helpful information to authors.

You can find Heather at her website, Heather Day Gilbert–Author, and at herFacebook Author Page, as well as TwitterPinterestYouTube. Her first novel, God’s Daughter, is available on Amazon.


  1. How wonderful Iola that you reviewed Heather's novel. Vikings have become a niche market but appears the CBA market wasn't ready for it, hence, why Heather went the self-pub route.

    I'm so pleased you've read it and found it to be so good.

    1. It was certainly different to the traditional CBA, but the story and writing were excellent. Thanks for visiting, Ian.

  2. Thank you so much for this review, Iola. I know you are an avid reader and I'm pretty blown away by any reference to Siri Mitchell! Not to mention, you truly picked up on the significance of first-person for Gudrid's perspective, allowing us to see inside her (at times quite stoic, at times very conflicted) head.

  3. Thanks for visiting, Heather, and for your kind words. I thought Gudrid was a fascinating character, and it was great to read something about a time and culture new to me.