Monday, 2 January 2017

Book Review: Runemarks by Joanne M. Harris

Runemarks has just been re-released with a new (amazing) cover, a new introduction and has been re-edited. Previously released in 2007, this book is by the author of 'Chocolat' and 'The Gospel of Loki'.

Runemarks is drenched in Norse mythology and follows the story of 14 year old Maddy who has a runemark on her hand, giving her access to magic and untold power. She is thought of as strange in her small village and befriends a traveler called One-Eye who helps her develop her magic. He sends her on a mission into the Underworld to retrieve an old relic called The Whisperer where it is under guard by the trickster Loki. This causes a shift in the worlds and things begin to unravel. Dark forces, sleeping gods, and Hel herself join the battle to restore the balance between Order and Chaos.

This book was a mixed bag for me. I enjoy reading fantasy and mythology but this book was a big learning curve for me. The language is as complicated as the worlds within and I thought it could have been explained a bit more. Or perhaps I need to turn my brain on and figure it out myself. It is assumed you already have knowledge of this genre of fantasy. However, I got past that and kept reading. It is a big book at 513 pages which doesn't lend to reading it in one go. Having to put it down made it harder to get back into but once again, perhaps it just isn't my sort of book.
I did enjoy the characters however. Loki especially. Called the 'Trickster' for a reason, he was given a great depth of character and I even found myself on his side a couple of times. Thor and Odin make an appearance although I had to do a bit of research as in this book (which is true to the myths) Odin and Loki are blood brothers. My more recent dealings with Norse mythology have been via the Marvel films where Loki and Thor are (adopted) siblings so this got me turned around a bit.

Once that issue was sorted this book did definitely get interesting. Maddy's journey into the lower worlds was compelling and full of imagery. The ending was left semi-open which is what you want in this type of book. There was also a decent twist that may or may not be obvious but it got me!

Overall, this book is well researched and written and highly recommended for those who are well practiced in the fantasy genre. For those wanting to branch out, perhaps work your way up to it. The new cover art is stunning and the included illustrations in the preface set the scene for the book.

Thanks to Hachette for my review copy of this book.

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