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Runemarks was a spur of the moment exploration of a new author and I'm not overly disappointed. The first line of the book, "500 years after the end of the world, and goblins had been in the cellar again..." was immediately intriguing and sets a rather 'impish' tone that is carried on throughout the book which is rather amusing. The plot had lots of potential, but was sadly let down by something lacking in the characters. However its well worth a read just for the refreshing take it has on Norse mythology.
The first line says it all; set five hundred years after Ragnarok, the End of the World, in nine different worlds straight out of Norse mythology, the book follows the adventure of the young witch-child Maddy. Maddy is feared by everyone in her little quaint village, including her family, because she was born with a Runemark upon her hand and has glam - magic. Early in her solitary life she meets a traveler who calls himself "One-Eye", who becomes her sole friend and her teacher in the arts of runes and glam.
However One-Eye is not all he appears to be - he is one of the few survivors of Ragnarok - and just happens to be a God, but one with seriously reduced powers and who is constantly hunted by the Order. The Order is an organisation that took form a few years before Ragnarok and now oppose any remanant of those ancient days; they topple standing stones, desecrate ancient holy sites and 'Cleanse' - execute - anyone and anything with a runemark on their bodies. One-Eye, sensing their growing power, in a last attempt to stay the Order's ever-seeking hand, sends Maddy under Red Horse Hill, an ancient goblin stronghold, and into Underworld in an attempt to uncover an ancient glam called the Whisperer which may prove One-Eye's only hope against the Order.
Maddy is then hurled headlong into a world of Norse Gods, waking nightmares, icy shape-shifting huntresses, the will-crushing power of the Word, the maw of the World Serpent and traps laid down by those she most trusts. She passes through Hell into Chaos, literally, in an attempt to fulfill a prophecy of the Whisperer and save all the nine worlds and a new found family.
In this new-born myth you will find wise Odin, the surly trickster Loki, brute-force Thor and countless other favourites from Norse mythology along with wickedly delightful characters such as the cowardly/unwittingly brave goblin Sugar-and-Sack and a expert sniffer-pig Fat Lizzy.
The characters however, are what I feel let this book down. With such an invigorating and attention demanding plot the book requires equally intriguing characters. The characters however feel a little... flat. For some reason I can't quite identify it feels like an effort to connect with any of the characters, even Maddy. Loki is probably the most easy character to identify with and he is only one in a myriad of characters.
If the characters had been a little more deep this book would have been much more satisfying.
Target audience: older children and teens - adults with their kiddiehood still intact.
Good enough read, plot was interesting and engaging. Fascinating concepts for characters but they didn't have enough 'meat' to the bones, left feeling a little bit disappointed by lack of connection.
Only giving it a three... would have been a four or maybe even a five depending on how well characters could have been developed.