Review: The Gospel of Loki – Joanne M Harris

gospeloflokiI have very little knowledge of Norse mythology but this book has me wanting to read more. The Gospel of Loki is a modern twist on the Elder Edda told, as implied by the title, from our very unreliable narrator, Loki. Having read this book I want to one, read more Norse mythology and two, read more books by Joanne Harris.

Mythology has been given a bit of a facelift in this book in that Loki is very modern. Loki is just awesome in this book, as could be expected as it’s the story through his eyes. He is sarcastic, witty, funny, sassy and very unreliable and I really loved the picture painted from that point of  view. Loki makes an entertaining unreliable narrator. In a running theme throughout the book, he warns us of various people we should never trust – a wise man, a relative, a friend – and it is inevitable that we as readers discover that no one whomsoever can be trusted, including Loki himself.

For me, this was more of a short story collection than a novel. Chapter to chapter this felt disjointed to me. There was no cohesion between chapters and I really wasn’t prepared for that, though I really ought to have expected it. That’s okay, I love short story collections but it did mean that losing myself in this for more than a chapter at a time was quite a challenge. I had to read it in chapter long instalments more often than not, breaking up each one with a chore or a cup of tea!

Of course, as I mentioned, I am not familiar whatsoever with Norse mythology so I really cannot account for how accurate a retelling/adaptation that this is to the original stories however I think it’s an interesting take. Any myth told through the eyes of someone who is often a background character is interesting. From what I understand this is a very twisted version of the original poetry from which it is based but, actually, it is probably a far more accessible way for people to read about the mythology. Of course Norse myth has become popular as of late thanks to Marvel films etc. (something I myself haven’t actually watched an entire one of) – Loki in particular has a cultish following and I think this would definitely be a hit with those fans who maybe want a different perspective on him. I think there is quite a deviation from what is told through Marvel and what is told in these pages but I think it is probably a more approachable way to look at Norse myth than some epic poetry. For that reason I’m going to pass this on to my sister who is likely to love it.

The main issues with this, for me, was that there was no real character development. Loki and Odin are the only two characters with any meat on their bones, everyone else is woefully underdeveloped and flat. Also, while this was a modern twist on mythology, I sometimes found the mix of old and new jarring; for the most part it worked but at other times I was very much “eh?”.

Overall this is a 3* read. It was good, I really enjoyed it, I loved the narration. Just some of it felt flat, and in parts it was disjointed. I think maybe had I had more background knowledge of Loki I would have enjoyed this more so it is likely to be one I revisit as I definitely want to read more Norse mythology! Also, I have to just say that bought this book on recommendation from my favourite former bookseller (who has gone on to be a librarian, those kids are lucky!) and I am very glad he put this on the pile of books that I ended up buying! He has assured me that she intends to write more in the series so I await those eagerly!

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