Monday, May 11, 2015

The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris

Everyone's favorite mythological bad boy gets his own say in Joanne Harris's latest! Loki, (yes, Loki. And not the Marvel version either.), has put together his own version of events in what he's calling the Lokabrenna (or Gospel of Loki).

Born of chaos, Loki was invited to Asgard by the Allfather himself. Promised respect and a place by Odin's side, from the very start Loki claims that wasn't the case at all. 

In the beginning, the Trickster does try to turn the other cheek, taking the Gods' ridicule in stride, all the while perfecting his scheming and playful nature. When the Gods turn on him, though, there's no coming back and Loki begins a campaign to take them down.

Why does everyone love Loki so? It's hard to say, but I think it's because he never pretends to be anything other than exactly what he is. And that's just how Harris portrays him as well; he is what he is and he doesn't apologize for it. In fact, as he frequently points out, it's basically to be expected: he is born of chaos.

The Gospel of Loki wasn't exactly what I'd expected. For one, this isn't Harris's first time dipping her toe into the waters of Norse mythology. Back in 2007, Harris released her first YA read with Runemarks, a story set 500 years after Ragnarrok, or the end of the world, and heavily steeped in Norse mythology. For another, Runemarks and all of Harris's other books (with the exception of her short story collections, of course) are straightforward narratives, so that's what I expected out of The Gospel of Loki.

And that wasn't the case at all. Instead, Gospel reads more like a linear collection of stories with Loki as the common thread. Sort of like a memoir in essay form.

But that approach was kind of more fun. The stories told are from actual mythology - like the story in Lesson 11 of the book, which begins with the trickster killing an otter for dinner. Here's the Wikipedia link on Fafnir for a bit more reading. (I know, WIKIPEDIA, but it's the easiest thing to link to.) Of course the tale plays out a little differently through Loki's eyes... as do all of the stories. The framework is the same, but the perceptions and tones of the stories are sometimes greatly affected by Loki as the narrator.

In such a fun way! He's full of fire and snark, just as we'd expect, and Harris pulls it off so freaking fabulously!

The Gospel of Loki is great for anyone looking for a playful new take on classic mythology or just plain in the mood for a fun read.

Rating: 4/5

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