by Neil Gaiman; illustrated by Mark Buckingham
It has been a long, long winter – the longest anyone can remember. In the great hall, where the entire village has been cooped up for months, fights are breaking out as tempers grow short. Odd, a young boy who was crippled in a terrible accident, decides that he's had enough and sneaks out one night so that he can return to the hut that once belonged to his father, now long dead. Once there, he meets three animals: a bear, a fox, and an eagle. They talk, it turns out, and explain to Odd that they are really Thor, Loki and Odin. The gods were transformed into animals by an evil Frost Giant who has since managed to take over Asgard. Odd decides that there's nothing to do but go to Asgard and free it, so he sets out at once with his three companions following along behind him.
Odd is a fun little boy to follow around. He's clever, and he doesn't talk much, so he's often able to draw people into conversations that reveal a lot about the character in a natural way. Although Odd himself remains a bit of an enigma to the reader, he brings out the best in each of the gods. I also liked the contrast created between Odd's personal growth throughout the quest and the inability of the gods to change their basic nature. Odd may mature and come of age but Loki will always be a trickster and Thor will always be strong and brave but not particularly cunning. Although he doesn't appear until fairly late in the game, I also really liked the Frost Giant. He's been in control of Asgard just long enough to see that defeating the gods isn't all that it's cracked up to be, and he constantly vacillates between proud conqueror and lonely foreigner who just wants to go home.
At less than one hundred pages, this was a very quick read. It's a delightful tale, written in the grand style of myths and legends, but it also has Gaiman's trademark humor. To make it even more awesome, Odd and the Frost Giants is illustrated by Mark Buckingham, best known for his work on the Fables comic series. It was originally written for World Book Day, an annual event in the UK and Ireland. I wish we did something similar here – it's such a cool idea!
5 out of 5 stars
To read more about Odd and the Frost Giants, buy it from an independent bookstore or add it to your wishlist click here.