Odd and the Frost Giants (2008) – Neil Gaiman

It’s always a delight to explore a Neil Gaiman book, and though this novella was far too short, it was everything I’d come to expect from this master storyteller.

Incorporating Norse Mythology, which is also the subject of his latest book, the story follows a young boy, named Odd, who has an unexpected encounter with some of the gods of Asgard, and their nemesis of old, the Frost Giants.

With his magical way of eliciting image and wonder, Gaiman’s story wraps you up like a warm blanket as he shares his winter’s tale.

Odd lives in his little Norse town, he has a crippled leg, has lost his father, and his mother has married anew, and his stepfather wants nothing to do with him. As the winter drags on, seemingly endlessly, Odd runs away from the town hall, where the village is spending the winter.

He runs to his old home, the one he shared with his mother and father, and from there he finds himself on an adventure that includes encounters with Thor the god of thunder, Odin, the all-father, and the playful and devious Loki.

They have been trapped in animal form on the earthly plane of Midgard by the Frost Giants who have seized control of Asgard.

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The three gods find help in the most unlikely of places. Odd.

A perfect tale that wouldn’t work if it was longer, but doesn’t stop the reader from wanting more, I realised a quarter of the way into the tale that as I was reading, I had a big grin on my face. Gaiman’s writing does that to me.

I remember the first time I read a Gaiman book, Neverwhere, and from that moment on, he had a fan for life. His books, short stories and novels alike (and lets not forget the Sandman comic series) seemed to be created from a magical ether, springing from his forehead like Athena springing from Zeus’ forehead – fully-formed and stunning.

The story took me in completely. I ambled my way through it, enjoying each moment that Gaiman has crafted, experiencing the wonder and joy that fills Odd’s world, and even at that leisurely stroll through mythology, and across the Rainbow Bridge, the story ended far too quickly.

It did continue to foster the fan the flame of my love for Gaiman’s work, and I may have to go back and revisit some of my favourites, and hunt down any I might have missed.

This is a fun, enchanting read and one that asks to be shared. Check it out.

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