Review: The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris


5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

I cannot get enough of books based on ancient mythologies or cultures. I’ve devoured countless books on ancient Greece and Rome, the Olympian Gods, the Trojan War… but as you can see, the reading is often focused on one specific area of history. A fascination with the myths and legends of all over the world has followed me all my life; even those cultures of which I know little are endlessly astounding. Norse mythology sits somewhere in the middle. Whilst I know more about it than say, the stories of ancient Babylon, I know a Hel (harhar see what I did there… I’m so sorry) of a lot more about those of ancient Greece or Rome.

So it was with great delight that I spotted The Gospel of Loki on Netgalley. A book narrated by the trickster god of the old Norse pantheon certainly sounds like an incredibly unique premise, and I’m sure the recent releases of Avengers Assemble and the Thor films have piqued people’s interest in this particular deity (but PLEASE don’t go into this book expecting to see Marvel-Loki. I don’t know why you would… one is a comic book character, the other an old god.)

But anyway. If you’re interested in this book but know nothing about Norse mythology, then there is no need to worry – the author (or rather Loki) provides a handy guide to the various characters at the very beginning, as well as setting out the origin story of the religion. From the cover (which is absolutely gorgeous), I was expecting something quite heavy and traditional, but in actual fact Loki’s tone of voice is light and witty, and he even uses frequent colloquialisms and slang. Although I did feel like phrases such as ‘Yours Truly’ and ‘so shoot me’ were used a little too often, I loved Loki’s narration through the various legends of the old Norse religions. He may be arrogant, thoughtless and the ultimate trickster god, but at times I actually felt a little sorry for him. Unlike the other deities, Loki was not born into the family, but adopted as Odin’s brother. From the very beginning the others regard him as untrustworthy, what with him previously being a demon and a bit tricksy, and yes sometimes he deserves their hostility – but actually, there were times where he was treated rather unfairly and the other gods felt more like the demons.

What I most enjoyed about this book was the humour – and I think that is what it will make it so accessible to many different types of readers. It could have been a stuffy book about the myths and legends of Scandinavia, but with a brilliantly clever twist of Loki as the narrator, and his wonderful sense of wit, it both teaches and entertains. The casual weaving of modern day slang with these ancient epics gives it a timeless feeling. At some times it feels like a big family drama, with all the little (and not so little) arguments between the various gods!

Taking most of its inspiration from the legends of the Poetic Edda and Prose Edda, The Gospel of Loki is a gorgeous ‘retelling’ of ancient myths, that feels both timeless and modern, with a brilliantly unique viewpoint.

Like me, Ron is impressed. I told myself I wouldn’t use a Marvel-Loki gif so… err… yeah. This seemed appropriate.



12 thoughts on “Review: The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris”

  1. Great review! Been seeing this title around quite a bit lately so I’m very curious about this retelling *goes off to add it on GR* And awesome that it draws a lot from the Poetic & Prose Edda, I have one of those books sitting on my shelf, waiting to be read, so it’d be interesting to compare it up afterwards 🙂

  2. I also like anything having to do with mythology and mythology retellings. I’ve always felt a little bad for Loki, he gets treated like crap, and he’s stuck in his personality and hasn’t got much free will. He couldn’t be a not-trickster, even if he wanted to, and i find that very tragic.

    1. You definitely need to read this one then. He actually helps the other gods out with his trickster ways (like with the birth of Sleipnir) but at other times he just genuinely helps. And you can’t not like his narrative voice either =)

  3. I’ve been looking for stories that have other types of mythology (not Greek and Roman) in them – do you have any recommendations?

    I know next to nothing about Norse mythology, so I really want to read this. A witty trickster god? Sounds like a great story to me!

    1. Well I’ve mostly read about Greek and Roman mythology, but one of my favourite series when I was younger was the Arthur Trilogy by Kevin Crossley-Holland. It’s not about King Arthur, but a young boy called Arthur whose life sort of parallels with the monarch’s. It’s historical fiction weaved with elements of mythology, and Arthurian legend is beautiful so it’s a definite recommendation =) There’s also the Paths to Camelot series which is based on ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’ – I’ve only read the first book so far but I really enjoyed that one too.

      I’ve mostly read books based on Greek, Roman and Arthurian legend, with the Trojan War being one of my most read areas. And then there’s Ilium series by Dan Simmons, which is a sci-fi retelling of Homer’s work. Haven’t read them yet but I’m planning to! (I know that’s Greek but it’s a sci-fi version ;D)

  4. The cover for this novel, by artist Adreas Preis, is one of my favorites of the year thus far and I expect will easily make it into my list for favorites of the year. So beautifully designed.

    1. Thanks for sharing the cover artist Carl – I agree, it’s an absolutely stunning cover and one of my favourites of the year too. I’ll have to go and take a look at more of his art =)

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