The Gate of the Shrine

29-year-old divorcee Jasmine Arud runs a team-building business, uses the ancient Nordic religion Asatro in her yoga coaching, and is desperate for a fresh start. Her family owns Tyrblod Island, part of the Norwegian Archipelago. There is a forest and a mountain, and Haugen Farmstead – old, abandoned and with many secrets – located at the entrance to a small valley. A perfect location for a new age commune. A perfect location for rebirth. The gate of the shrine, to quote The Witches’ Creed by Doreen Valiente.

If only.

Warm and enthusiastic Jasmine brings together six old friends from university who feel the way she does, that life has not turned out how they wanted. Theirs will be a new way, combining on-line business with traditional crafts and eco-tourism, getting closer to nature through ancient beliefs and rituals.

Conrad Brodie, a driven and self-opinionated sales executive, sees himself as the real leader and has a secret agenda of his own; older brother Arthur has been invalided from the military with PTSD and a drink problem.

Local guide and hunter Tora Eiríksdóttir can see trouble ahead but agrees to stay with the newcomers until Autumn to help deal with some personal issues, a decision she will later regret as relationships fray.

There’s a mysterious stranger on the island who thinks he’s a shaman, but that’s far from the truth. What at first felt like a harmless adventure becomes much darker as the friends relive ancient lives and discover that nature is not benign at all. Nature wants to kill them.

The novel is steeped in Old Norse beliefs about the mystical relationship between people and nature. When Vikings approached land, they took down the carved dragon heads from the bows of their longships so the landvættir –spirits guarding wild places – would not attack. The seven friends are modern age invaders from the sea; Tyrblod Island sees them as a threat to its ancient ways and the landvættir has been awakened.

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