Book Review: Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman

Since Neil Gaiman’s rendition of Norse Mythology was recently released in paperback, we thought this would be a great opportunity to highlight this delightful book on our blog! Gaiman is no stranger to anyone who enjoys fantasy, horror, or graphic novels—young or old. His children’s novels have won wide acclaim and recognition and his adult novels have received even greater success. But does his expertise extend to a fairly straight-forward retelling of thousand-year old myths?
Norse Mythology is the story of a dysfunctional family. However, in this case the family is a group of immortal magically powerful gods. Wise Odin, brawny (but not particularly intelligent) Thor, cunning Loki, and the rest of the gods adventure through the lands of gods, giants, and humans. There’s fun wordplay, amusing misadventures, heartbreaking tragedy, and a lot of humor! In many respects the central character in these tales is Loki. Gaiman’s love for Loki is clear, and there’s no better introduction to his character than the one Gaiman himself gives: “[Loki] is tolerated by the gods, perhaps because his stratagems and plans save them as often as they get them into trouble. Loki makes the world more interesting but less safe. He is the father of monsters, the author of woes, the sly god.”

Neil Gaiman, photo credit Kyle Cassidy

Gaiman is a master storyteller, made even more apparent if you listen to the audiobook. His sweetly mellifluous voice is simultaneously soothing and enlivening, and the perfect complement to these stories. Even beyond his performance though, the text itself makes the characters incredibly compelling. He gives the gods more to say than most retellings, and so reveals much more of the inner workings of each character. Myths can often feel like historical documents, but here we can feel the vitality of each character and their struggles.
If you haven’t picked up on it already, we’re big fans of Norse Mythology. If you haven’t read it yet, give it a shot! Even if you have read it, try listening to the audiobook as a re-read. We think this book is worth a second reading, and having Neil Gaiman read you a mythological bed-time story is an experience not to be missed!
You can find Norse Mythology in our catalog. Click here to view a search listing for Norse Mythology.

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