Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I picked an interesting time to read this book. At the end of the longest winter in memory, I'm reading a book about a boy who goes on a quest to end the neverending winter in his corner of the world.
Odd is a boy whose father died and his mother remarried. His leg is shattered in a woodcutting accident, and he's largely considered useless. Then winter goes on longer than it should. He returns to his father's cottage, where he's led by a fox to where a bear is trapped in a tree, while a one-eyed eagle looks on.
It turns out the animals are really Loki, Thor, and Odin, trapped in animal form by the frost giant who tricked his way into Asgard. Off goes Odd and his fallen god friends into a journey through Norse legend to stop the frost giants before the world is locked into winter forever.
Odd and the Frost Giants is a fairly straightforward middle grade chapter book. Kids familiar with Norse legends will get more out of it than those who aren't, but it's not a requirement. The story fits nicely into existing legends.
While the story is about a hero with a disability, it doesn't entirely skirt the trope of curing the disability as a reward for saving the day. The story is also lacking in female characters. There are precisely two: Odd's mother, and Freya, whose shrieking isn't worth her beautiful face. Hardly what I'd call decent representation.
Still, it's an entertaining story, creatively crafted. It could work well as an introduction to Norse mythology, or it could complement what a kid already knows about it.
I listened to this book on audio, narrated by Neil Gaiman. That's probably the next best thing to a parent reading it to you as a bedtime story.
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