*No book spoilers in this blog post*
You might just have figured out that I’m a queer inclusive heathen by now. I was gifted an ARC of ‘The Goddess of Nothing at All’ by the author Cat Rector. I welcome a fiction book which not only sees Norse myth in a new way, but also holds LGBT+ representation in a way which is not jarring with the material or context.
The first time I finished this book I couldn’t words. It took me on a roller coaster unstopping ride from laughing out loud to tears and back within the space of two days from first page to last. I went back and read it again, and again, and yes, this is the myth cycle told from Sigyn’s view, but there’s more to it than that. The book is gloriously big, not just in terms of page count, but expansive, breathing whispered runes into old myths to tell them in a new way that feels like I’m reading them for the first time. Spoiler alert, I might have read the myth cycle once or twice before picking up this book, so there was some initial jarring as I read through and recognised the beginnings of different myth cycle stories and watched them play out in a different way on the page. Delighting in the small nuances, the little visual images and single sentences which catch my breath, sitting like sparkling garnets in the glorious gold of the whole, crafted with care, skill and a deep respect for the original. There’s even one or two nods for those deeply familiar with the myth cycle and its intricate tiny details. In the book there’s a beautiful description of prayer at midsummer, the charting of the developing relationship between Loki and Sigyn from their first meeting, the complex relationship with Angrabotha, images and words which are still resonating on a deep emotional level. I have no doubt that I will read this book again and again in the future, it’s just beautiful.
And perhaps part of that deep enjoyment is the ongoing theological reflection. There’s so much in this book to reflect on in terms of a deepening connection to faith, so many quick moments of insight as I read through the first time (and all the times after) and slow moments of realisation since. The description of prayer at midsummer had multiple rounds of reflection to itself, starting with ‘how might the representation in this book change how I feel about prayer and my use of it in faith practice?’. I can appreciate that for some who call themselves heathen, the open and positive LGBT+ representation will not be welcome, and for those who are staunch traditionalists, the way in which the myth cycle is treated will jar so much that they find it unreadable: but for me, I loved it. Loved that I can see these tales in a fresh way, effortlessly reinvented inviting me to hold emotional and theological value in both the original and the fiction. There’s myth cycle stories which are familiar to me, but scenes and interactions inside them which are not. Relationships and conversations that I hadn’t considered before and are helping me see those gods and goddesses in a new light, the theological reflection ripples out and out, creating gentle refreshing change in how I view my own faith and deepening my complex connections. The ripples are still happening. Long may they continue.
‘The Goddess of Nothing at All’ by Cat Rector is available for pre-order in kindle, paperback and hardback, releasing on 1st October 2021.
Amazon UK Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Goddess-Nothing-Unwritten-Runes-Book-