Review: Steel Hand, Cold Heart by Rachel Menard (+ Giveaway)

Title: Steel Hand, Cold Heart
Author: Rachel Menard 
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Copy via Rachel Menard
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC.
Publication Date: May 7th 2019 
ebook, 229 pages

The Odyssey meets The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue in this Viking version of the self-exploratory road trip. On the island of Helvar, women rule. Sixteen-year-old Carina has trained for most of her life to belong to the coveted Daughters of Hel, the steel-handed Viking warriors who provide souls to the Death Goddess in exchange for the prosperity of their island. Gaining her place hasn’t been easy. She was not borne of the island, but another spoil from another raid, raised by the island Chieftain. There are many who would see her fail, and on her first raid, she does. She doesn’t kill a priestess she should have. Carina needs to prove her worth or risk losing her place. Before she can, her arch-nemesis drugs her wine and sends her off the isle as a captive of three foreign boys. But what is Carina’s greatest misfortune may turn out to be her greatest gift. The young men are taking her to the jewel of the Southern Isles – Fortis Venitis, a place no other Daughter of Hel can venture. Carina can place Hel’s claims on the Southern isle and return to Helvar with the spoils, a victor. However there are many obstacles to pass before she reaches her goal. Like her rune stone that everyone keeps trying to steal, the mismatched pirates from a country that no longer exists, and the priest with his poison that melts flesh from bones. But the most dangerous obstacle of all are the odd feelings she’s developing for her victims, especially the knife-thieving captain Nik. That could make it difficult for her to kill him in the end.

Rachel reached out to us about reviewing her novel Steel Hand, Cold Heart and from the moment I read the synopsis I, (Amber) was hooked and needed to know more. The Odyssey meets The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue in this Viking inspired story of self exploration and the need to prove ones self worth and things that happen when things don't go according to plan. 

*Basically me this whole book*

Carina the Unstoppable is a Daughter of Hel, but she has been an outsider all her life. The Daughters of Hel slaughtered her village, murdered her father and took Carina in as one of their own. But because of that Carina never fit in with her peers. She looks different then them and has to work even harder to herself and her abilities. But on her first raid she fails to kill and slaughter a priestess. Instead she walks about with a rune stone that is about to cause her all sorts of trouble. On the celebration that night Carina thinks her rival wants to make amends but instead sells her off to three strangers who are in search of her, shit begins to get real. Her greatest misfortune may become a way to redeem herself. If she kills her captors and returns with their riches, she can redeem herself and her failure. The only problem? Carina begins to care for her captors and when push comes to shove, will she be able to follow through with plan? 

Now that I've summarized Steel Hand, Cold Heart I can move on to my review. But I still need a moment because I am still collecting myself. 

Carina is the literal definition of a bad ass character. Sure, sometimes she doesn't make the brightest decisions, but that is part of being human. She is brutal, cut throat and prideful. She also has a bad temper, an attitude problem and serious impulse control problems. Basically Carina is the kind of killer that many authors try to write, but fail at. I loved Carina's character. Her sharp tongue and how we watch her struggle with the thought of meeting someone from her past that had abandoned her and being accepted by The Daughters of Hel. Being part of her clan as part of her initiation The Daughters hands are dipped in steel and fused that become one with their body. I amused me how often Carina threatened to maim or kill people with her claw, in a way she reminded me of Manon from the Throne of Glass series, who is one of my favorite characters ever. 

I really enjoyed watching Carina's character arc throughout Steel Hand, Cold Heart. We watch Carina go from being cruel and planning to kill the ragtag crew that kidnapped her to how her feelings and fondness for them changes. Her feelings for Nik develop though she knows they are helpless. It was interesting in a sense to see someone as brutal and cut throat as Carina begin to have a sense of humanity. 

The secondary characters were well done and I loved each of them in one way or another. I had a soft spot for Nik, especially more about his past and the torture he has endured as being part of a gang. The brutality of the things done to him broke my heart and all I wanted to do was give him the biggest hug. Flavian is witty and funny and made me laugh out loud a couple of times, he is also bi and the rep was done really well. Mateo is the cutest bean and I want to protect him at all costs. He suffered an illness when he was younger that left him with a crippled leg, another rep that I found well done. 

This review is already a mile long and there is so much more I want to talk about but I can't because #spoilers. In short though: pick up this book, it is a quick read that will steal all of your attention the first page and I promise you won't regret it. Rachel is an author I am going to be on the look out for and I hope one day she revisits this world and characters because there are some open ends, but quite honestly? I just can't get enough of these characters. 


Rachel is kind enough to be giving away a rune bracelet made for Steel Hand, Cold Heart ($60 Value) and to add to it I will be giving away an e-book of Steel Hand, Cold Heart

*** Rachel is not responsible for any lost or damaged packages and sadly due to shipping restrictions this giveaway is going to be US only! ***


  1. This book has an amazing setting and exciting premise. Just added to my Goodreads so as not to miss out on the fun!

  2. The excerpt was cool. I cant wait to read this. What was the inspiration behind it?


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