In a village in ancient Norway lives a boy named Odd, and he's had some very bad luck: His father perished in a Viking expedition; a tree fell on and shattered his leg; the endless freezing winter is making villagers dangerously grumpy.
Out in the forest Odd encounters a bear, a fox, and an eagle--three creatures with a strange story to tell.
Now Odd is forced on a stranger journey than he had imagined--a journey to save Asgard, city of the gods, from the Frost Giants who have invaded it.
It's going to take a very special kind of twelve-year-old boy to outwit the Frost Giants, restore peace to the city of gods, and end the long winter. Someone cheerful and infuriating and clever…
Someone just like Odd.
Odd is a Viking boy with a lame leg, a clever turn of mind, and a strong sense of self. When one of the harsh Norse winters threatens to continue unendingly, he leaves the safety of his village and sets off into the forest. While Odd isn’t necessarily looking for adventure, it comes and finds him anyway, in the shape of a fox, an eagle and a bear. Odd’s decision to travel with these three will change his future, and give him a place in legend.
Odd and the Frost Giants was lovely and brief and true. At the same time, it didn’t skimp on the sorts of elements that boys and girls love: talking animals, epic adventure, riding bears and conquering giants! At the story’s core are themes of transformation, story-telling, and discovering the secret desires of our hearts. There’s also a strong dose of mythology and problem solving and several journeys toward home.
What I found most intriguing was Gaiman’s use of the Norse gods as characters in the story. Gaiman has done this (weaving deities from many traditions into an original tale) before in his adult works, particularly in American Gods and Anansi Boys. While the gods’ inclusion works mostly to highlight Odd’s personal transformation, the hints at well-known story sagas and the mention of Thor’s hammer (which even the uninitiated will recognize from recent Avengers films) should spark interest in traditional tales and further reading in general. And that is a marvelous thing.
Recommended for: young readers, fans of fantasy and mythology, and anyone looking for a quick read that will find its way into your heart.
*I should mention that I didn’t make it through Coraline the first time I tried it – I was creeped-the-heck-out. Totally going back and reading it again soon!