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NEW-TO-ME AUTHOR REVIEW: “Liesmith” by Alis Franklin


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.



3 stars : “like not love”. Or -to develop a bit – I enjoyed it to some extent, but it didn’t totally work for me because I’ve had issues with the execution and because my tastes got in the way.  I found that it showed undeniable qualities, such as a brilliant idea to begin with, inventiveness,  an underlying joy at telling a story, and a good writing. The author had fun, it is contagious and it is great. The story is complex enough to be interesting and it is great.  However, I also found that it was sometimes tiring and more confusing than intriguing, which is not so great. As for my tastes, I’m not overly fond of ‘cute’.

So. The story. Let’s sort things out, ‘cause there’s a lot going on. This is urban fantasy with a dash of horror but without scaring you to death. This is also :

  • A fluffy romance between a dork and a god that plays with the predestination trope.
  • A group of nerds experiencing the end of the world for real,
  • A tale of lies and fluidity that remains slippery and twisty until the very end,
  • The Good, the Evil, and the In-between,
  • People trying to bypass Fate,
  • A Norse mythology fanfiction and it’s perhaps what defines it the best. It’s about an author playing with her favourite stories and characters, twisting the myths, bending them to her whim, and filling the void of untold stories with hers.

It’s a lot, but not too much. I won’t spoil you with the details, but the general idea is that all those threads fit nicely together. If the starting point is well and truly adorkable Sigmund meeting cool and good-looking Lain, and both of them having a cute romance, the core points are the Wyrd (fate with a big F, don’t sweat on it you can’t fight it), the Ragnarök (Armageddon à la Norse) and the lie smith.  Lies, fights, doom. Enough said.  My poison.

I found the execution confusing though, and that’s not because of my very weak knowledge of the Norse lore. I know Loki from the Avengers,  the Wyrd  and the Ragnarök  from Wikipedia and some info dumping here and there, that’s saying. It was enough to follow, and regarding words I didn’t understand and was too lazy to investigate about – I am not totally averse to keeping a part of mystery in my fantasy as long as it’s not total darkness.

So, not too much, not too cryptic, but still confusing,  meaning something between unfocused, vague and all over the place. How very informative, I know. Words fail me, okay! The problem is that this story is supposed to be elusive, which is tricky to execute. The author did a fine job with tying up her threads, the ending is definitely not an issue; but there is a fine line between elusive and muddling, and we crossed it just a little bit too often for my liking. This is my most objective issue along with the fact that I wished for something a little more solid in the characterization. I admit that Sigmund dorkiness was funny (I’ll get to that) and cute, but it wasn’t enough for me to grow attached to him and to care for his romance. Lain is an amazing opportunity at complexity, but elusiveness is at work here too.

Let’s get to the fun. Nerds playing at the Norse version of Resident Evil for real, Sigmund’s obliviousness and awkwardness, Lain’s flippancy are fun, and the author is never short of good lines. I smiled. Often. A lot. Really, the author can write; she can change her voice when needed, and she can be hilarious. However, too much of the same humour kills the humour, and I also often wished that she would tone it down a notch. I may have lost sight of my early twenties, but Sigmund sounded a lot more like a teen than a young adult, and I’m not crazy about the whole high school retards flavour. That is subjective though.

My conclusion is that this story had the deflects of its virtues.  My guess is that the ratings it will get will be all along the spectrum from mild enjoyment to absolute adoration. I doubt that many readers will hate it. Give it a try if you have a weakness for adorkable characters stuck in a creepshow with sneaky twists, I think that it’s worth a shot.





Title: Liesmith: Book 1 of The Wyrd (The Wyrd #1)
Author: Alis Franklin
Publisher: Hydra
Pages: 308 pages
Release Date:  October 7th 2014 (first published January 1st 2014)
Purchase links : ARE, Amazon

6 comments on “NEW-TO-ME AUTHOR REVIEW: “Liesmith” by Alis Franklin

  1. Kim W
    January 31, 2015

    I just read this last weekend. I liked the first half very much and the second half a little less so. Overall, it was very enjoyable but I was kind of lost over the mythology. It seemed like I was expected to know the backstory of all the Norse gods in detail but other than watching the movies of Thor (several times!), I didn’t have a frame of reference. I think I would have enjoyed the story a lot more if more had been explained to me.


    • ilhem3606
      January 31, 2015

      I felt confused in the second part too and I thought that it was because I had to update, but I realized that she does give informations all the time. I really think that the problem is that she wanted something intriguing and puzzling until the very last moment, so she muddied the waters and confused the issues and was vague when clarity wouldn’t have spoiled anything and would have helped the reader to focus, to actually notice the informations and actually be intrigued. Am I confusing, or what?! I swear it’s very clear in my mind. :)


  2. LegeArtis
    February 3, 2015

    Great review, Ilhem! :)
    It was 3 star read for me, too, and it boils down to same issues Kim W and you had: I just don’t have that kind of knowledge on Norse mythology to understand everything that was happening.
    Sure, I know basics…I even know about Loki’s children from various UF novels, but there were these surreal, meta parts like Bleeds or the fires of Múspell that made scratch my head and google for explanation.
    But still; it’s good debut.


    • ilhem3606
      February 3, 2015

      Thank you.:)
      Yes, it is a very promising debut. Perhaps too self-indulgent, but it is also its charm. Will you read book 2?


      • LegeArtis
        February 4, 2015

        I will, since, apparently, there will be dragon- It’s a well known fact that every fantasy gets 100 times better when you include dragons. Just look at Daenerys ; she would not be so popular if her dragons didn’t hatch at the end of GoT.:D
        I am not sure… I think I’ll wait for some reviews first.
        p.s. (I just checked my review and I remembered something: Do you think author wanted us to have Tom Hiddlestone in our heads since Loki in his Travis persona has black hair and green eyes and in his Lain persona he is this charming red-haired guy? :)


        • ilhem3606
          February 4, 2015

          I don’t know about Tom Hiddlestone, but i’m definitely curious about Lain/Travis/etc. character development. I’m torn, but I think that I’ll give it a try, especially if there will be dragons!


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This entry was posted on January 31, 2015 by in PNR / UF / SF / DYS, Reviewer: Ilhem and tagged , , , , , , .

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