The latest release from Chocolat author Joanne Harris is a wonderful retelling of the norse god myths.
The story is centred on and narrated by Loki, the trickster god. The plot follows his birth into the world, how he befriends Odin and the other gods, his schemes and the eventual downfall of the gods.
“Loki, that’s me.
Loki, the Light-Bringer, the misunderstood, the elusive, the handsome and modest hero of this particular tissue of lies. Take it with a pinch of salt, but it’s at least as true as the official version, and, dare I say it, more entertaining.
So far, history, such as it is, has cast me in a rather unflattering role.
Now it’s my turn to take the stage.”
I have never read the original stories surrounding Odin and Thor and so was only partly familiar with the myths. I found it a really interesting read and loved the first person narration style. It focuses completely on Loki, what he wants us to see and know. If you’re in the same boat as me and don’t know very much about the Norse gods, the book serves as a great introduction to that. The book is fun and brilliantly written, and Loki is a great character, he’s mischievous and clever and a very likeable narrator.
One thing for me that became a slight problem is with the success and popularity of the marvel Avengers series, the characters of Thor and Loki were already drawn up for me. I couldn’t help but imagine Tom Hiddleston or Chris Hemsworth as I read the story. I imagine this isn’t a problem for the many many fans the Avengers has, but it ruined the story for me slightly, as I prefer to imagine my own versions of the characters. Despite this I think Harris did a wonderful job at putting her own spin on the characters and making them distinctly hers, I just had a hard time not picturing the marvel versions.
I love the fantasy genre, and this felt like although it is a fantasy story – and Joanne Harris’ first fantasy novel in fact – it reads in a much more accessible way than the huge epics I primarily read. The story is very fun and entertaining, there’s some very witty chapters with Loki outwitting everyone and coming up on top only to have his feet stolen out from under him.
A quick thing that I really liked, the chapter pages of the book feature Loki’s great pieces of life advice. For example “Always look on the bright side. And if there is no bright side? Look away.” These always served to make me smile and added to the larger than life Loki character. Overall it’s a really enjoyable read, just over 300 pages it’s a fun, tongue n cheek read for fantasy fans and Greek mythology fans.