Book - 2008
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In Maddy Smith's world, order rules. Chaos, old gods, faeries, magic - all of these were supposedly vanquished centuries ago. But Maddy knows that a small bit of magic has survived.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2008
Edition: 1st American ed
Description: 526 p. ; 24 cm
ISBN: 9780375844447
Branch Call Number: j Harr


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This is a book for adolescent, not adults reading. Plot was chaotic. The magic was incomprehensible and the ending was an eye rolling let down.

Sep 29, 2017

Sorry, but it was a mistake on my part, ordering this book from the library. I love Harris's writing but I should have realized that fantasy like this would not work for me. A premise too bizarre to sustain my attention; a cast of characters longer than in a Dostevsky epic; another (God help us!) invented language: Too much of a muchness!
I'll probably recommend this one to my granddaughter but I had to bow out after 175 pages.

Jan 08, 2016

What an original read this was! Harris combined Norse mythology with the dangers of blindly following religious structures, and the result was fascinating.

Things that worked for me:

The world building gets an A, and not just for effort. This story takes place in a simple, pioneerish post-Ragnarok setting, with people living above ground and mysterious little creatures living below. Meanwhile, the gods of old Norse legends are coming back… with a twist that involves a struggle for power with the obstinately religious humans as the end of the world nears once again. Harris uses the old Norse runes as a magic system, giving each one a different power.

Also, I like the gods. Well, some of them, anyway. Most of them are not very well-developed, but Loki and Odin really are. Odin is very political, right in some ways, wrong in others, but trying to find a compromise for the common good. He is a wise and sort of cranky grandfatherly figure to the main character. Loki is crush-worthy. Maybe I’m just biased because of my crush on Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. But really, Loki is great. He teeters on the brink of good and evil, much as Odin does, but he much more actively tries to change the world, and he is ever-so-clever. Plus, Thor is funny. Maddy, the main character is likable because, despite having so much power and being looked down on her whole life (a recipe for a maniacal villain), she wants to use her powers to do good and stay true to herself. She is not an annoying heroine in the least. She is mature and down-to-Earth.

In addition, there is a ton of adventure in this book, with eerie settings and characters pitted on all different sides -- there is no spectrum. And the showdown is unlike anything I’ve ever read or seen before. I don’t want to give away too much. It’s best to just experience it.

Things that didn’t work for me:

Maddy is a bit too powerful. I would have liked to see her struggle just a bit more, even though she already faces a lot of ethical dilemmas and brain-power challenges. Not a big deal, though.

Also, there is a bit too much inner monologue from characters that we don’t end up caring about as much. There are entire chapters of this, and they are not completely essential to the story. They could have been cut down, at the very least. This is probably why a lot of reviews of this book state it as being “boring.”

Finally, the book came across as being a bit preachy, not in a religious way, but in an opposite way. That wouldn’t be so bad if Harris’ other stories didn’t have that underlying tone. For example, I hear Harris' Chocolat deals with challenging the rigidity of the Catholic Church during Lent. It’s just a bit of a turn-off when the author starts sneaking their agenda in there.

Overall, though, I’d say read this. It is so, so unique. It’s a breath of fresh air for YA literature.

Barbara5060 Aug 12, 2013

I enjoyed reading this novel. The mythology was not familiar to me so I think I missed some of the subtlety. A good quest/adventure/growing up story. Not excellent, but good enough to look into her other books.

Vilka Dec 18, 2012

An interesting take on Norse mythology, set 500 years after the gods fell at Ragnarok and the human world has moved on. Fairly briskly-paced, interesting characters (Loki is VERY well-done, with his ambiguous nature), fun banter, and didn't end as expected. I was quite uncomfortable with the highly Inquisition-like authority in the first half, but got used to them as a highly secularized institution whose discordant nature makes sense in the end. I didn't want to give this one back when I finished.

Aug 24, 2012

Maddy Smith has a rune on her arm – a mark that makes her suspicious to the ordered world around her – mark of magic and of chaos, mark of intelligence and dream. She falls into an adventure with figures that bear a strange resemblance to the elder Norse gods, though Ragnarok is long past and the new world has no place for them. Humourous and exciting, I couldn’t put it down.

Nov 14, 2011

Epic journey to the end and back! Very much enjoyed!

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Aug 26, 2011

daylightrunner thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over


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