Book Reviews

Review: The Navigator’s Touch by Julia Ember

It’s been a while since I read, and loved, The Seafarer’s Kiss. I remember loving the way Ember was able to combine mermaids with this Norse mythology. While I enjoyed The Navigator’s Touch, it didn’t live up to the hype in my mind. Keep reading this book review to find out what worked for me, and what didn’t.


After invaders destroyed her village, murdered her family, and took her prisoner, shield-maiden Ragna is hungry for revenge. A trained warrior, she is ready to fight for her home, but with only a mermaid and a crew of disloyal mercenaries to aid her, Ragna knows she needs new allies. Guided by the magical maps on her skin, battling storms and mutiny, Ragna sets sail across the Northern Sea.

She petitions the Jarl in Skjordal for aid, but despite Ragna’s rank and fighting ability, the Jarl sees only a young girl, too inexperienced to lead, unworthy of help. To prove herself to the Jarl and win her crew’s respect, Ragna undertakes a dangerous expedition. But when forced to decide between her own freedom and the fate of her crew, what will she sacrifice to save what’s left of her home?


Immediately beginning The Navigator’s Touch I was entranced both by Ember’s descriptive and beautiful writing, and the Norse mythology. It has been so long since I’ve read a story with Norse mythology in it, and I rarely ever read one that does it justice. That delivers to me the atmosphere and richness that I’m craving. And The Navigator’s Touch is this perfect combination of sapphic romance, Norse mythology (hello Loki!), and descriptive battle.

While The Navigator’s Touch lies somewhere between a sequel and a companion novel, it centers Ragna and her journey for revenge. Pursuing her vengeance, The Navigator’s Touch asks her what kind of leader she wants to become. Just ruling with an iron fist alone leads her into the cycle of violence she was in before. How can she become a different leader than the one that wronged her? Ragna makes mistakes and I enjoyed how dimensional her character was, even if I didn’t agree with her choices.

However, while I enjoyed this sequel, for some reason it didn’t hook me as much as The Seafarer’s Kiss. Not only did the ending feel incredibly fast, but while I loved Ersel and Ragna, I felt that this story didn’t give Ersel enough development. I realize that this book is from Ragna’s POV, but I missed their connection and interactions. Even more so, Ersel felt like such an immense side character without the intrigue that I felt for Ragna in The Seafarer’s Kiss. All things considered, I just was missing that richer sense of context in terms of characters.

Overall, The Navigator’s Touch has so many elements I enjoyed, and just for the Norse mythology alone, is worth reading. It examines the bonds of family, their debts we have to pay, and the ways our path can lead us in different directions. It also has a fantastic ending that I really enjoyed! Find The Navigator’s Touch on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


What is your favorite Norse mythology book?

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