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‘The Gospel of Loki:’ Book Review

One good turncoat deserves another.

Allow me to start pretty simply: This book is fun.  I had a blast reading it and was hungry for more when I got to the last page.  Joanne M. Harris, known for Chocolat (which I’ll admit freely that I’ve never read, when I buy things with that word on it, usually it’s delicious), takes us on a journey through Norse mythology from the point of view of the Trickster God, Loki.  I was excited about the title from all of the recent Tom Hiddleston magnificence, but Harris’ playful romp through one of the darkest creation/end-of-the-world mythos out there is a sheer delight that is much more nuanced and intriguing than even Marvel’s take on the role.

First thing’s first, you don’t have to know the ins and outs of the entire Norse pantheon to enjoy this book.  Though told from Loki’s perspective as a counter-argument to the “agreed upon” version, there’s plenty of information available to enjoy this book with only a rudimentary understanding. (For instance, the MCU will get you far enough to enjoy it.)  Loki is the wonderful mix of pride, selfishness, and egomaniac that we expect, but Harris breathes true life into our anti-hero and makes a sympathetic demon of him.   The wit and charm are worthy of Terry Pratchet or Neil Gaiman, and there’s a vivid imagery that paints a wonderful picture in your mind as you read.

Mrs. Harris has done a superb job of creating a likeable rascal, and you find yourself rooting for him for a good half of the book.  The maturity with which she handles the bawdier nature of some of the anecdotes from Asgard manages to take you by surprise without too much blushing and keeps a solid heart to the story throughout.

The last few chapters of the book feel just a touch rushed, where she layers in a mystery angle that seems the crux of the final story, but in no way is it any less enjoyable for it.  I left wanting more and could have enjoyed playing in the world she wove for another hundred pages or so without decrying the length.  I have to say the smile on my face from the last page was as genuine a one as I’ve ever had reading this kind of novel and leaves us with a positively cheeky, little twist done with such a delicate touch.  It’s truly a remarkable moment when it connects.

If you’d ever read the Wolf’s side of The Three Little Pigs or just enjoy cosmic misfits trying their best to be good, you’ll really get a kick out of this wonderful and jaunty tale.

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