Fiction Review: Runemarks by Joanne Harris

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RUNEMARKS BY JOANNE HARRIS
CORGI CHILDREN’S (PAPERBACK), 2007
528 PAGES

AUTHOR WEBSITE

AMAZON (UK)

AMAZON.COM

WHAT IT’S ABOUT

Seven o’clock, on a Monday morning, five hundred years after the end of the world, and goblins had been at the cellar again…

Maddy Smith was born with a rusty-coloured runemark on her hand – a symbol of the old gods and definitely cause for suspicion. For magic is dangerous. Or so everyone thinks. But Maddy enjoys working magic. Even if it is just to control some pesky goblins. And every time her friend, One-Eye – a good-for-nowt Outlander – comes by, he teaches her more and more about the gods and the runes.

Now he wants Maddy to open Red Horse Hill and descend into World Below to retrieve a relic of the old gods. Otherwise it is likely to be the End of Everything. Again . . .

An epic romp into the heart of the Old Norse tales: wild, dangerous, richly inventive and superbly imaginative.

OPENING PARAGRAPH

Seven o’clock, on a Monday morning, five hundred years after the end of the world, and goblins had been at the cellar again. Mrs Scattergood – the landlady at the Seven Sleepers Inn – swore it was rats, but Maddy Smith knew better. Only goblins could have burrowed into the brick-lined floor; and besides, as far as she knew, rats didn’t drink ale.

WHAT I THOUGHT

Joanne Harris is one of my favourite writers. I’ve been a subscriber to Writing Magazine for years. Each issue they do a feature on the book a well-known writer could never publish. Many years ago they featured Joanne Harris who talked about her book Runemarks that had never worked out. I was delighted many years later to see it on sale and had to buy a copy and a copy of the sequel Runelight. This goes to show never say never.

Runemarks is a great work of fantasy. It reminded me of her brilliant novel The Gospel of Loki published under the name Joanne M Harris. I have a particular fondness for Norse Mythology so Runemarks delighted me. I thought Maddy was a great character. I enjoyed all the revelations about her heritage and her powers as she got involved deeper and deeper with Odin and Loki and the dramatic events that threaten to destroy the world again. I really liked the fact the novel is set 500 years after Ragnorak rather than during which is a trend I’ve noticed in other similar books. I thought this was an interesting and unusual way to go. I found this book well-written, humorous at times, engaging and a lot of fun. The book ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger which can be annoying so I look forward to reading Runelight soon.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

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