By Joanne Harris
Reviewed by Brett Levy
In a refreshing change of scenery, author Joanne Harris avoids the rutted road of Anglo fantasy and instead builds her characters around fallen Norse Gods trying to get by 500 years after their fall from grace.
More than just along for the ride is Maddy, who was born with an odd Rune on her hand. Shunned by her parents and small village, Maddy eventually discovers the meaning and power behind her birthmark with the help of a less-than-friendly man named One Eye and Loki, the Trickster.
While Maddy might be a symbol for hope to the Ancient Gods, the mysterious Order and its powerful “Word” is something else entirely. Our heroes must discover the intentions behind who or what is running the Order, which has banned dreaming and magic.
Equally refreshing: Maddy’s adventures reveal a strong female protagonist who has a smart head on her shoulders to boot. No silly Lara Croft stereotypes here.
My only beefs: it can be challenging at times to keep the Norse figures and Runes straight, and it is somewhat disconcerting how Maddy’s importance seems to diminish during the final moments of conflict.
Regardless, Runemarks restores some originality to magical worlds by transforming old stories into new.