Becoming Leidah is a magical realism tale set in 19th century Norway, a time and place still deeply entrenched in superstition, in which the clash between the Norse Paganism and Christianity was still culturally present. The narrative, rather than linear, moves between past, present, and future in mirroring the three Norns of Norse Mythology–the sisters who weave, tie, and snip the lines of the fate of all beings residing within the nine worlds of Yggdrasil.
The perspective shifts from Maeva, an ostracized and mysterious woman with a magical, yet nearly forgotten past; her husband Pieter, a mortal fisherman with dark secrets of his own; Leidah, their magically gifted blue-skinned daughter, and an array of characters including the Norns themselves, Odin, an outcast village midwife, and a witchy gypsy. The cast of characters make up the knots tied on the rope of fate, illustrating the simultaneous nature of time as it is perceived by the Gods and other magical beings.
I really didn’t know what to expect from this book, but I was pleasantly surprised by the creative and unique writing style of the author. Grierson has a very specific and sensory gift for description, making the ordinary seem magical. Although the non-linear nature of the narrative may confuse some, as the novel progresses on, the reader will obtain more of a sense of the order of events. The end is the beginning and the beginning is the end, described in an awe-inspiring way by Pieter, but in a traumatic way by Maeva.
If you are unsure of what this story is about, just take the leap and buy it. If nothing else, you will be taken aback by Michelle Grierson’s beautiful and vivid prose.