We Hae Books

The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris


I received this novel in a subscription some time ago and had I seen it on the shelf I probably would’ve bought it. I was interested in reading this, but what would it be like on the back of reading other Norse books?

The book is essentially the Norse myths told from Loki’s point of view. That sounds great, and in some ways it is as the language is quite tongue in cheek and mocking, as you’d imagine this God speaking or writing down his thoughts. The problem for me is what has been done to the myths. In the originals he is generally depicted as someone who cares for little but himself and his immediate family. He tries to get one over on the other gods, playing pranks that go too far but makes good in the end most of the time. I’ve considered him a kind of jester, the only person able to mock the others. He gets himself into pickles and then has to get himself out and the results often give the gods more than they had before. Much of their best wealth was gained through him. This novel takes a different approach and one I don’t always like.

In this version Loki is a demon brought into the fold by Odin and the other gods consider him inferior as a result, and this makes him resent them and intent on bringing about their downfall. Every other known myth featuring him is then written as if they were working towards this goal. I don’t expect any rewriting to be identical to the original but to me this doesn’t really work.

The sarcasm comes through, which I like, but it also contains jarring terms like chillax and referring to Sigyn knitting booties don’t blend into the stories at all for me. If it had been given a modern setting I could’ve forgiven these terms, but they weren’t so they don’t blend in. As I read on these kinds of things bothered me more and more and I couldn’t help thinking how much better Neil Gaiman did. Had I read this first I probably wouldn’t have been quite as scathing but I went into this with some knowledge of the myths. If you’ve never read a Norse myth you may enjoy this more but for me, I don’t like the treatment of the Myths or characters and couldn’t really recommend it. I would never tell someone not to read a novel they liked the look of, and it does have positive reviews on various platforms but it’s just not for me. If you want to be introduced to the myths, try Gaiman’s book instead.