Final rating 4.25 5 starsFinal rating for the whole series 3.5 5 starsI have read this book first in 2011 Back then I did not even theorize this could get a sequel But it has And I am glad for it This book can be seen as stand alone book but there were some loose ends for which I didn t give this book five stars Neither will I this time, but in any case, it deserves to be 4.25 And, damn I forgot how much this book was fun and enjoyable to read I usually don t change the date read to Final rating 4.25 5 starsFinal rating for the whole series 3.5 5 starsI have read this book first in 2011 Back then I did not even theorize this could get a sequel But it has And I am glad for it This book can be seen as stand alone book but there were some loose ends for which I didn t give this book five stars Neither will I this time, but in any case, it deserves to be 4.25 And, damn I forgot how much this book was fun and enjoyable to read I usually don t change the date read to the newer one, but this time I did because I read it from the beginning to the end, without ever skipping This is a high fantasy unlike our world this has many worlds, although we see only a couple of them Norse Gods are the main point here but the Norse mythology is not quite going by Norse myths, so don t be surprised to not hear anything of J tunheimr, except that there exists order of Chaos, and Loki is a child of that Chaos who has, along with Odin, swore to be brothers in blood sworn to each other Okay, let s be realistic Loki will always play pranks and tricks and do stupid things, but he is honestly quite, quite smart, but also sometimes foolish and falls on tricks himself sir and Vanir categories of gods are one of the main points sir Odin, Frigg, Thor, Sif, Tyr, Balder, Loki Vanir Skadi, Bragi, Idun, Freyja, Frey r , Heimdall, Njord , and author stick with them as well with putting the right gods in each category Also, she included most of the myth facts like serpent guess who above Loki s head when he was captured and tortured until he escaped Even if they were just a little changed And so on But never mind that, I am not expert on Norse mythology, although I guess i will go into a bookstore and buy a huge myths book but they are so damn expensive Anyway, some facts held, some didn t but it was well executed To be honest, this whole setting seemed like an alternative universe Despite humans settling in the Middle World, it didn t seem to be anything like the Earth I didn t imagine it as Earth at all I think that was the point I am ranting, but the conclusion is not all things related to the myths are the same, some are inverted or outright changed If you don t mind that, then read this book because it s fun and worth it This is not a story of gods only this is a story of Maddy Smith, and her involvement with the Gods, the world, and destiny This is a different, and kind of unique story where things do not go as planned, gods are not always who they are, which goes for people too and many things happen It s a fast paced book and well done in general When it comes to the facts on the gods, do pay attention, especially hostages situation as that is one of the most important facts one may overlook like me, first time Out of all characters, I have undying love toward Loki I will always love the Trickster god, no matter what he pulls And, I am very happy to see there is this book The Gospel of Loki and it s about THIS Loki which is why some people were confused why Loki was actually somewhat demon and of Chaos, instead of being J tunn But here it works There is Order, then is Chaos, and there are sir and Vanir and humans And it was so well executed Also ONE THING for those looking for romance ya fanatasy book you will probably only get fantasy out of the three There is no love interest, there IS NO ROMANCE, and it s not really young adultish Maybe only at the beginning AND THERE DOESN T NEED TO BE ROMANTIC INTEREST, BECAUSE THIS BOOK IS NOT ABOUT ROMANCE, BUT ABOUT THE END OF THE WORLD STORY In the universe of nine Worlds, Ragnarok happened 500 years ago and gods disappeared and the world just restarted In the Middle Worlds, magic is now banned and considered work of demons by the new religion the Order and their people who worship their own God called The Nameless It means that stories of supernatural creatures are now banned, stories of gods, goblins, and everything else related to magic.Maddy, a 14 year old girl, was born in the village called Malbry, into the family of Smiths Her father, Jed, and her sister, Mae, never really wanted her In fact, she was an outsider and that was all they needed to shut her out from their lives Why did this happen Maddy was born with a rune on her hand except she didn t know what it really was, what it did, except that it was only the mark which branded her as a witch and possible spawn of the demons Maddy tries really hard to fit in with the rest of the village, but the only person she found herself comfortable with is none other but One Eye, a mysterious old man who knowsthan he wants to tell Maddy In fact, One Eye is concerned Something serious is happening, and this Outlander One Eye, wants Maddy to find an ancient relic of gods called the Whisperer by opening the Red Horse Hill and descending into World Below where someone has been living for 500 years and guarding the relic She comes across a strange little goblin whom she encountered before in the cellar of the place she worked in Having no other choice, goblin helps her but is afraid of that his Captain of the goblins will find themAnd then there is the Prophecy CHARACTERS There is not much to talk about the characters or who they are you will see by reading the book, in rather fun way like for example, also key players Maddy Smith, a village witchAdam Scattergood, a bullyNat Parson, a parsonEthelberta Parson, his wifeExaminer Number 4421974, Examiner of the OrderGODS VANIR Skadi, of the Ice People, bride of Nj rd, the Huntress goddess of destruction principal enemy of LokiBragi, god of poetry and song has no reason to love LokiIdun, his wife, goddess of youth and plenty was once abducted by Loki and handed over to the Ice PeopleFreyja, goddess of desire once mortally insulted by LokiFrey, the Reaper, her brother no friend to LokiHeimdall, golden toothed sentinel of the gods hates LokiNj rd, sea god, once married to Skadi but now separated due to irreconcilable differences agrees with her on a single subject dislike of LokiGODS SIR SEER FOLK Odin, chief of the sir, blood brother of and ultimately betrayed by LokiFrigg, his wife lost her son because of LokiThor, the Thunderer, son of Odin hasthan one bone to pick with LokiSif, his wife once went bald because of LokiT r, god of war lost his hand because of LokiBalder, son of Frigg died because of LokiLokiOTHERSSugar and Sack, a goblin And so on and on As you can see everyone hates Loki I really pitty him Sometimes don t, but I do love him the most Out of everyone, I really, really loved Loki I had so many feelings about him and interestingly, I was always on his side It s not easy being Loki, especially when he did many things that cannot be irreversible and the Gods knew what they invited when they adopted Loki Odin knew at least but still has a lot of feelings about Loki he cannot discard Maddy is really good and interesting heroine She is not boring and she is lovely She is not annoying and she is rather capable although it sometimes takes time to understand everything for her I also really, really, loved Sugar and Sack, a goblin from the World Below He is actually really, really cute If I tell anything else about the characters, it would be too many spoilers OVERALL It was fun, it was angsty, it was interesting and captivating I reread this book and wrote a review of it right now , because I wanted to continue on the second book, which was thankfully translated by my publisher and I have it sitting on the shelf for a year or two It s about time I finish with this story and move on on the The Gospel of Loki In other words I don t think you will regret reading it, unless you are the type who cannot stand changes when it comes to Myths and Legends of the Norse Mythology in general OTHER IMPORTANT INFOStandalone Yes But also, part of a series Recommended to read the sequel as it covers the loose ends Point of View Third POV, multiply characters Cliffhanger No Triggers view spoiler Flashback tortures told to you by yours trully , torture sometimes humans can be cruel, ofc hide spoiler Love triangle NO, ACTUALLY, THERE IS NO ROMANCE HERE AT ALL Angst Yes Supernatural Yeeeeeeeeeees Explicit content No Ending type view spoiler HEA, as much as it can be hide spoiler Recommended Yes Note if possible, read the second book too D REVIEW S RELATED TO THIS BOOK Runemarks Runemarks, 1 Runelight Runemarks 2 This was a really fun way to spend some reading hours It s YA Fantasy, which I wouldn t normally read, but Harris s style proved too seductive for me She laid out a trail of breadcrumbs from the first paragraph and before I knew it I was deep inside the mountain, and the story Caught, and mesmerized, there was no way out, but through it I will admit to one or two brain spasms along the way as I tried to make sense of the complex Norse mythology, with which Harris deviates from the convention This was a really fun way to spend some reading hours It s YA Fantasy, which I wouldn t normally read, but Harris s style proved too seductive for me She laid out a trail of breadcrumbs from the first paragraph and before I knew it I was deep inside the mountain, and the story Caught, and mesmerized, there was no way out, but through it I will admit to one or two brain spasms along the way as I tried to make sense of the complex Norse mythology, with which Harris deviates from the conventional storyline But, given that it is all mythological who is to say after all, which is the better tale that s told Harris s telling is beguiling.Maddy proves to be an enchanting young heroine all theglamorous because she lacks glamour and instead moves with integrity, innocence and honour What comfort to YA readers to know that one of their own is incorruptible, straightforward and strong While a few other readers have commented that nothing happens and that Maddy is purposeless, I would beg to differ and suggest a closer re reading sometimes it s the journey that counts, and not the destination.Even from mymature wisdom, this was an enjoyable read When I put myself back in my 12 year old body, under the apple tree, this book was positively delicious Looking for something lighthearted to clear your head between longer andcomplex series Why not Zoidberg Runemarks Rating could have been lowered but this was fast and fun read and it was perfect counterweight to complex Malazan series that was reading along side it so i m going to give it 4 stars It s YA fantasy but it sinspired by older heroic fantasy with than modern YA genre Distinctive writing style that flows easily and setting heavily inspired by Norse mythology contribut Looking for something lighthearted to clear your head between longer andcomplex series Why not Zoidberg Runemarks Rating could have been lowered but this was fast and fun read and it was perfect counterweight to complex Malazan series that was reading along side it so i m going to give it 4 stars It s YA fantasy but it sinspired by older heroic fantasy with than modern YA genre Distinctive writing style that flows easily and setting heavily inspired by Norse mythology contribute to high rating 3.5 starsThe Nordic mythical foundations of this book were well utilised, conforming to known stories in parts and freely reimagined in others The initial part of the book was especially well done though it begins with the usual young protagonist coming into their powers, the runemarks and character of Maddy Smith gave it a real freshness and appeal.However, the book felt stretched, pushed well past the moment when all the reader s attention is firmly focused By the time of the big battle con 3.5 starsThe Nordic mythical foundations of this book were well utilised, conforming to known stories in parts and freely reimagined in others The initial part of the book was especially well done though it begins with the usual young protagonist coming into their powers, the runemarks and character of Maddy Smith gave it a real freshness and appeal.However, the book felt stretched, pushed well past the moment when all the reader s attention is firmly focused By the time of the big battle conclusion, I was there merely to see how it all ended rather than being invested in the outcome Joanne Harris usually has a much tighter plot than this and I was surprised by feeling this way about one of her books, especially as I thought this was forof a teen audience Perhaps i m doing them a disservice in thinking that they have even less patience and attention than me In any case, i m not sure i ll be reading the next one in the series.Kindle copy received from Netgalley My main complaint about Runemarks was the complexity The narrative was far too extensive and unfocused I don t know much about Norse mythology, so I found myself frequently frustrated with the intricate and complicated Norse histories I usually prefer being eased into a new world where I m given time to absorb the characters personalities and different politics, etc It wasn t my taste.YABC May 2008 My main complaint about Runemarks was the complexity The narrative was far too extensive and unfocused I don t know much about Norse mythology, so I found myself frequently frustrated with the intricate and complicated Norse histories I usually prefer being eased into a new world where I m given time to absorb the characters personalities and different politics, etc It wasn t my taste.YABC May 2008 I loved the movie Chocolat and I read a bit of Jigs and Reels, but nothing has hooked me on Joanne Harris as much as this She started it as a story for her daughter, years later it is a fantastic tale of magic and adventure for all ages The mythology is Norse, a nice break from the Greek gods if you ve been devouring Rick Riordan s Olympians So soon after reading Michael Scott s The Alchemyst, it s neat to come acrossreferences to Yggdrasil, the World Tree And if, like me, you love kee I loved the movie Chocolat and I read a bit of Jigs and Reels, but nothing has hooked me on Joanne Harris as much as this She started it as a story for her daughter, years later it is a fantastic tale of magic and adventure for all ages The mythology is Norse, a nice break from the Greek gods if you ve been devouring Rick Riordan s Olympians So soon after reading Michael Scott s The Alchemyst, it s neat to come acrossreferences to Yggdrasil, the World Tree And if, like me, you love keeping track of a seemingly ever expanding cavalcade of major and minor characters, and the minutiae of their lives and credos, then this is the book of the summer for you Haven t run across this many characters since The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters After Even better than I ever expected, and I had pretty high expectations I hope she writes a dozenof these I think I ve finally found someone to meet and exceed my Pottermania I made one big pause while reading, so my thoughts are not 100% coherent I also don t have time for a detailed review right now I ll just say what made me decide on five rather than four YA WITH FEMALE PROTAGONIST BUT NO ROMANCE No, no potential love interests introduced either Despite target audience, it is much less Bleached Underpants than many other interpretations of Norse Mythology Also, no Black White here The recommendation mentioned shenanigans , but it s not as much about she I made one big pause while reading, so my thoughts are not 100% coherent I also don t have time for a detailed review right now I ll just say what made me decide on five rather than four YA WITH FEMALE PROTAGONIST BUT NO ROMANCE No, no potential love interests introduced either Despite target audience, it is much less Bleached Underpants than many other interpretations of Norse Mythology Also, no BlackWhite here The recommendation mentioned shenanigans , but it s not as much about shenanigans as deception Layers upon layers of it It is clear enough not to cause a headache or blink or miss it, but the hints drop just before the reveal so you don t have to spend pages rolling your eyes and wishing the character would get it already Also, it featured one my favourite kind of plot twist which I cannot name because it is a major spoiler and I really don t want to spoil anything here HOW HAVE I NOT READ THIS BEFORE I mean, I know why, because in my opinion the summary for this book doesn t really do it justice Or maybe it does, but it doesn t necessarily highlight the parts of the book that make it most appealing to me personally First of all, I feel like the summary cover makes this seemlike a middle grade book, but it is definitely YA Don t get me wrong, I don t mind middle grade books, but with the complexity of the story here I m glad it was aimed at a slight HOW HAVE I NOT READ THIS BEFORE I mean, I know why, because in my opinion the summary for this book doesn t really do it justice Or maybe it does, but it doesn t necessarily highlight the parts of the book that make it most appealing to me personally First of all, I feel like the summary cover makes this seemlike a middle grade book, but it is definitely YA Don t get me wrong, I don t mind middle grade books, but with the complexity of the story here I m glad it was aimed at a slightly older audience Also this is YA WITH A FEMALE PROTAGONIST WITH ABSOLUTELY NO ROMANCE OR LOVE INTERESTS POTENTIAL OR OTHERWISE WHATSOEVER What a breath of fresh air Secondly, to me the summary reads like the book is going to feature Norse mythology but not feature the gods heavily I guess I didn t know that Harris The Gospel of Loki was also technically a part of this series or I would have realized my mistake earlier, but anyway the gods are VERY present in this Pretty much all the major players make an appearance at some point but Odin and Loki are the main ones, and if you know me then you know how much I absolutely adore anything with Loki in it In the end I thought there was a nice balance between the gods and the human characters and I really liked how all of their plots came together at the end Also, I ve seen some reviews from people saying they aren t very familiar with Norse mythology and that they find this book confusing I can t really speak from that standpoint because I am apparently so over familiar with Norse mythology that Neil Gaiman s new book last year literally bored me by it bringing nothing new to the table However, this doesn t necessarily draw on that many of the actual Norse myths it taking place AFTER Ragnarok and all and mostly focuses on the characters so I would think a quick wiki list of Norse gods or something would give you most of the background you need There is a character list at the beginning but it s basically all the gods and what Loki did to piss them off so, while funny, it s not the most informative Master storyteller Joanne Harris has created a magical and epic romp a fresh, funny, and wonderfully irreverent new take on the old Norse tales, sure to be enjoyed by readers young and oldSeven o clock on a Monday morning, five hundred years after the end of the world, and goblins had been at the cellar again Not that anyone would admit it was goblins In Maddy Smith s world, order rules Chaos, old gods, fairies, goblins, magic, glamours all of these were supposedly vanquished centuries ago But Maddy knows that a small bit of magic has survived The ruinmark she was born with on her palm proves it and makes the other villagers fearful that she is a witch though helpful in dealing with the goblins in the cellar problem But the mysterious traveler One Eye sees Maddy s mark not as a defect, but as a destiny And Maddy will need every scrap of forbidden magic One Eye can teach her if she is to survive that destiny Firstly, this cover looks stunning in person with its gold accents and that combined with the synopsis made me instantly buy it because who doesn t love a little bit of mythology Well, this was absolutely filled to the brim with Norse mythology, which was super exciting because I love mythology, but it didn t make for a nice reading experience since you were just constantly overloaded with information about each of the gods and the Nine Worlds Due to this, the pace just kept getting interrupt Firstly, this cover looks stunning in person with its gold accents and that combined with the synopsis made me instantly buy it because who doesn t love a little bit of mythology Well, this was absolutely filled to the brim with Norse mythology, which was super exciting because I love mythology, but it didn t make for a nice reading experience since you were just constantly overloaded with information about each of the gods and the Nine Worlds Due to this, the pace just kept getting interrupted because you d have to stop and take in all the information, and then the next page or chapter, you d be reading from another perspective or within a different storyline.That was another thing that irked me, there was the story with Maddy and the gods, and then another which crossed over with theirs involving those from the village Let me tell you, that storyline was very uninteresting and made me quite sad when I had to go from the gods and Maddy using runemarks to dealing with the villagers.I believe this title is targeted at a YA audience, which typically is anywhere from 12 and up who knows these days though , but I can t see many younger readers being interested in this As always, this is my own opinion and perhaps this just didn t end up being a title for me and others may love it instead However, it could have been an exciting book if perhaps it was stripped back a little since it s only the first book That being said, there s only one other in the series and that was published a whole four years later.Also, bonus points for the inclusion of two maps, a break down of all the characters, and images of the runemarks with their explanations