~ Jocelyn Green, award-winning author of the Heroines Behind the Lines series
"Forest Child. An enthralling Viking tale coupled with the heart-rending journey of a troubled soul.
Fierce, inscrutable Freydis Eiriksdottir grabbed my heart and didn't let go. I loved her even as I deplored her actions, mourned for her brokenness, and ultimately rejoiced in her transformation. Heather Gilbert has once again brought the Vikings to larger-than-life in the pages of Forest Child with authentic historical detail, a captivating story, and an unforgettable heroine."
~Stephanie Landsem, author of The Living Water Series
"The Vikings of the New World Saga contains some of the most profound characterization I have ever read. Inlaid with both tension and turmoil, romance and redemption, like its predecessor God's Daughter, Forest Child takes the reader on a journey that is anything but gentle--yet unrivaled in its poignancy. With each turn of the page, hearts are searched and the love of a mighty God has the power to triumph. By illuminating the lives of a pagan culture, we readers are given a profound reminder that our souls are of the same make as the Vikings'. The weapons we wield may not be of iron or steel, but they are just as powerful, and though our choices may not affect a village of loved ones, to seek goodness and wisdom is a call that stretches across even centuries of time. Set within a most stunning landscape, and filled with a genuine cast of characters, Forest Child is a heart-wrenching portrayal of love and humanity and one that will hold a special place in my heart."
~ Joanne Bischof, award-winning author of The Lady and the Lionheart
"It's the rare book that draws me in so fully that I respond with gasps and tears and a quickened heart rate. It's the best kind of book that makes me forget about the dishes in the sink and the meals that need to be made. It's my favorite kind of book which keeps me up late into the night with a strong desire to find out what happens next.
Forest Child by Heather Day Gilbert is such a book.
It's no exaggeration to say that I've waited two years for this book. My patience paid off. Freydis is well rounded, complex, her character so very real in her fierceness and vulnerability. The plot moves, keeping the reader turning page after page, unable to abandon the story. From the first page to the last, the reader is engaged with the characters.
Whatever you do, don't miss this book."
~Susie Finkbeiner, author of A Cup of Dust: A Novel of the Dust Bowl
"In Forest Child, Heather Day Gilbert has written a strong heroine that epitomizes the term against an intimate and unflinching tale revealing remarkable historical detail, dark family secrets, and a cast of characters that left an indelible influence on the spread of the Christian faith."
~ Nancy Kimball, author of Chasing the Lion
"Forest Child is a well written story of survival and hope, betrayal and forgiveness. Deep characters as rich and savage as Viking history, this novel is a testament that love, courage, and faith are timeless. A must read for historical fiction fans."
~ Peter Leavell, award-winning novelist & historian
"In Forest Child, Heather Day Gilbert takes the reader deep enough into the thoughts of Freydis that her emotions and her actions become equally riveting as the story progresses. The extraordinary tales from a vastly different, often dark culture become personal, relatable, and ultimately hopeful."
~ Christina Coryell, USA Today bestselling author
From the Inside Flap
The whispers filled all her silences.
Forest child. That's Eirik's forest child.
Freydis followed her brothers' tracks in the light snow, determined to find them. They never let her win at games. Even though they'd only seen a few winters more than her six, they acted like they were the only ones who knew how to fight.
Everything was a competition for them. But they wouldn't compete with her, even though Father had made her a sword and a shield when she was only four.
Today she would prove them wrong.
She sniffed the air, then sighed at the cleanness of it. No more fishy seaweed smell drifting up from the shore. No more summer jumps into the waterfall pond. Sunlight would be filtered through the hole in the roof, and she'd have to sit indoors with her stepmother and spin.
She could almost feel her stepmother's scolding eyes, the same blue as the layer beneath the ice. Ice inside and out, all year long. She was not her real mother, even though she had adopted her from her unmarried mother.
A twig cracked nearby. Freydis' red hair spilled out of the leather band she'd hastily wrapped around it. She shoved the curls out of her eyes, wooden sword at the ready.
Arms wrapped around her. Those cheaters. She jabbed her elbow back, but he'd already grabbed her sword.
Thorstein thrust his equally red head over her shoulder. "You weren't watching, foolish girl!"
Leif ran out of the woods, light yellow hair flying. Freydis dropped her eyes. She didn't mind Thorstein's taunts, but Leif's size scared her sometimes. He was built like a tree, and he knew it.
If only Thorvald were home. He looked out for her. But he had to sail with Father this time.
Thorstein shoved her forward, pinning her arms behind her. "What is the penalty, m'lord?"
Leif laughed. "Let's put this forest child where she belongs--in the forest."
They marched Freydis straight ahead, into the trees. Chill seeped into her hands, but she wouldn't cry out.
"I have some rope." Thorstein nodded to the loop on his belt.
Leif looked thoughtful. "She's quite crafty--she could get out."
"Let's put her up a tree! She'll never get down!" Thorstein talked as if Freydis couldn't hear.
She stopped and stomped on his foot, hard. This game wasn't fun at all.
"You! You...forest child!" As Thorstein hopped around, Freydis broke free and ran toward the longhouse. Leif blocked her path.
"Not so fast, you red-headed demon. We're going to take the fire out of you!"
As each brother grabbed an arm, they dragged her back into the woods. Leif made fast work of climbing the tree, Thorstein's length of rope between his teeth. Thorstein pulled a short knife from his belt sheath and pointed it at her back. "Get up, you wild girl!"
The game was over. She was deliberately slow as she climbed the tree, finally nestling into the wider spot where Leif stood. She wanted to bite him as he tied her to the trunk, but what if she lost her balance and fell onto Thorstein's knife?
Leif slid back down and landed with a thud. As her brothers walked away, clapping each other's backs, Freydis wondered. Should she be afraid, sitting in a tree, in the quick-darkening woods? Should she care that she'd had no mid-day meal and that her hands were tingling?
She decided not.
The next morning, the slaves found her, asleep in the tree. Hawk's feathers were scattered on the snow beneath her. She'd remembered the knife in her boot and had cut her ties, killed the bird, and eaten its raw flesh. For warmth, she had wrapped its carcass around her hands.
She refused to leave the tree until her father, Eirik the Red, and her brother Thorvald returned. That was three days later.
She'd turned her brothers' disdain to her favor--now they knew she was the most determined of Eirik's children.
And they could ignore her no longer.
--Copyright 2016 Heather Day Gilbert