Norse Myths by Kevin Crossley-Holland
I’m a known collector of fancy editions of timeless tales, and a sucker for all things mythological, so I was very excited to pick up Kevin Crossley-Holland’s illustrated Norse Myths: Tales of Odin, Thor and Loki. Crossley-Holland is the author of the Penguin Book of Norse Myths for an adult audience, and he has very ably adapted his knowledge into thrilling tales for children and teens. Artist and illustrator Jeffrey Alan Love has contributed marvellously to this hardcover edition, which uses the interplay of words and images to reinforce the epic nature of these stories. Love’s silhouettes cut across the page, creating atmospheres of enormity, foreboding and action.
The book begins with an illustrated cast of gods, goddesses, dwarfs and giants, and a map of the Norse worlds. Readers new to these myths will be helped enormously by the character descriptions of Odin, Thor, Loki et. al, and the map of Yggradsill (the tree of life) cutting through the three levels of Asgard, Midgard and Niflheim. Crossley-Holland’s 20 lively, rollicking retellings based on the Prose Edda take us full circle from the origins of all, to the end of the worlds. We hear about the walls of Asgard being built, Thor regaining his hammer, Balder’s death, Loki’s treachery, killer wolves, a magical nine-legged horse, and feats of brawn, smarts, trickery and bravery.
Young readers who’ve encountered these myths through Rick Riordan’s -Magnus Chase- series, or Neil Gaiman’s Odd and the Frost Giants (or, let’s be honest, the Hemsworth incarnation of Thor) will get a lot out of Norse Myths. As Crossley-Holland says in his charming foreword: ‘When I first read these stories as a boy, I yelled and laughed and cried a little, and I knew myself a bit better.’ Recommended for ages 10+