Thanks to NetGalley for the chance to read this in advance!
This was a really fun read and I didn't even realize it was based on Norse myth until I was well into it. And when I did come to that realization, it just made the story even better!
Brynn is a poor kid from a pretty terrible home. Her mother's boyfriend is a petty gangster and is suspicious of her every move. Brynn keeps her head down, works hard and dreams of the day she'll get the hell out and never go back.
When she notices a boy following her, she's both terrified and intrigued enough to turn the tables on him and follow him. She finds herself drawn into a game which, with her particular skills, developed out of the necessity of surviving her home-life, she wins easily.
It becomes clear the game was actually a test, and she passes with flying colors. She's quickly whisked away from her horrible neighborhood and offered a place at the very exclusive Vale Hall. On the surface it's an elite boarding school open to only the best of the best. But it quickly becomes apparent that the students are not selected for their academic prowess, but for other skills they might possess.
Vale Hall is a school for con artists.
Brynn is initially thrilled to be there. Conning is something she's good at, and the little scams she's doing won't really hurt anyone. Her marks have enough money that the little bits she's conning out of them won't mean a thing. Plus, getting rid of the city's bad guys has to be a good thing for society, right?
But when she's assigned to bring down a senator's son and realizes the school's head master has his own reasons for wanting this to happen, things start to get dangerous. No longer sure who the good guys and bad guys are, Brynn knows she's in over her head.
This was a real page turner and I think I read the whole thing in a single day. Brynn is a feisty heroine with an unusual skill-set. I liked her a lot and that allowed me to forgive a lot of the rather shady things she does during the course of the book. I believe this is the first of a series to be set in this particular school (Vale Hall - Valhalla) and I look forward to reading the next to see where it might take us.
But don't just trust my judgement. Here's the blurb:
Welcome to Vale Hall, the school for aspiring con artists.
When Brynn Hilder is recruited to Vale, it seems like the elite academy is her chance to start over, away from her mom's loser boyfriend and her rundown neighborhood. But she soon learns that Vale chooses students not so much for their scholastic talent as for their extracurricular activities, such as her time spent conning rich North Shore kids out of their extravagant allowances.
At first, Brynn jumps at the chance to help the school in its mission to rid the city of corrupt officials--because what could be better than giving entitled jerks what they deserve? But that's before she meets her mark--a senator's son--and before she discovers the school's headmaster has secrets he'll stop at nothing to protect. As the lines between right and wrong blur, Brynn begins to realize she's in way over head.