BooksOfTheMoon

A Pocketful of Crows

By Joanne M. Harris

Rating: 3 stars

I started this book back in the summer, but put it down for a long period because I could see what was coming and it felt “cringe-y”. I did eventually pick it up again, and I’m glad I did. As much as anything, the writing is poetic and beautiful to read, as much as for the story.

Our protagonist is a young woman of the travelling folk, who travels in all manner of birds and beasts, not tied to anyone or anything. Until she falls in love with a young prince. An inevitable betrayal and revenge follows, but it’s the journey that it takes that is worth staying for.

Based on some of the Child ballads, the story is simple enough, and Harris’s embellishments and feminist reading make for an interesting interpretation. As I say, the writing is a pleasure to read, and helps raise the fairly simple story to something greater. Also, the art, even in my Kindle edition, is gorgeous.

Book details

Publisher: Gollancz
Year of publication: 2017

The Testament of Loki

By Joanne M. Harris

Rating: 4 stars

Ragnarok has come and gone. The Aesir, including the trickster Loki, aren’t dead, but are trapped in the Netherworld. It wouldn’t make for much of a story if Loki didn’t escape, of course, and he duly does, straight into the body of a 17 year old girl. Not his ideal body, but it’s something to work with, even if his host is neurotic and full of emotions – i.e. a typical teenage girl. The thing is, Loki isn’t the only one to escape, and he’ll need all his guile and cunning to survive.

I had enjoyed The Gospel of Loki some time ago, which retold the Norse mythology from Loki’s point of view. This continues the story after the end of the world, which, it turns out, isn’t the end of the Worlds. Jump, the girl that Loki, er, jumps into is a sympathetic character and the rapport that develops between her and Loki is pleasurable to read.

The plot was pretty slow to get going, with a lot crammed into the third act, which sometimes made it a bit difficult to keep up towards the end. I would have liked to see more of the interactions between Loki, Jump and Meg, but the latter was there more to drive the plot than provide character depth.

The book is very readable, with short chapters and Loki is a compelling narrator, if entirely unreliable. There are plenty of hooks for a sequel and I’d certainly be up for more his adventures.

Book details

ISBN: 9781473202412
Publisher: Gollancz
Year of publication: 2018

The Gospel of Loki

By Joanne M. Harris

Rating: 4 stars

This book retells the fairly familiar story of Norse mythology, but from the point of view of the trickster god, Loki. As you may imagine, the Trickster isn’t the most reliable narrator, but Harris does a good job of getting inside his head and making him sympathetic, even when recounting some of his more unpleasant acts (such as arranging the killing of Baldor). As well as that tale, we have other familiar myths recounted here, including his involvement in acquiring mighty weapons for the Aesir, getting Thor to dress up as a bride and tricking Frey to give up his runesword.

This is all told in the first person, and we see Loki from the start, when he was tamed from the Chaos by Odin, to the early desire to belong and fit in at Asgard to the disillusionment and anger that leads to his turning his back on the gods and eventually to Ragnarok.

Loki is an engaging narrator, with a wry wit and humorous turn of phrase. The reader finds themselves being drawn into his point of view and wanting him to succeed, even as we follow him to the final betrayal at the end of the world.

Harris has done a great job here of finding a fresh retelling of the Norse myths and this is a very enjoyable way to rediscover them.

Book details

ISBN: 9781473202368
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Year of publication: 2014

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