Aha! The trickster returns!
You can’t keep a good Frost Giant/Norse God down. Especially when it’s everybody’s favourite trickster God, Loki. After Ragnarok, The End of Days, the age of the Norse Gods was over. Well that’s what we thought but Joanne Harris brings the gods back to life in a most interesting and surprising way.
In the first book, The Gospel according to Loki, we were walked through the now familiar Norse myths from creation through to the climatic epic battle Ragnarok and the end of the mythical cycle all narrated by Loki himself. In The Testament of Loki it’s post-Ragnarok and Loki uses the computer game Asgard! to escape from purgatory and eternal torment in the netherworld and into the body of a teenage girl in the present day.
He soon discovers that Odin and others have already found similar hosts, and the drama of the gods has followed him into this new world. As per Gospel, Loki is our narrator again. It’s a modern setting Loki easily transfers into and, of course, he feels quite at home.
The first half of the book is really interesting with Loki coming to terms with his host ‘Jumps’ and also his host dealing with a Norse god inside her head. Whereas the gods were the main event in the first book, it is the human, Jumps, who is the standout character in this book. Pairing Loki with a character undergoing the trials of being a female teenager, coming to terms with bullying, belonging, sexuality, self esteem and some uncomfortable moments relating to self harm is inspired!
These two have great chemistry together and interact really well and are the heartbeat of the book. It’s unfortunate that this relationship wasn’t examined further. This is where the book comes to life and perhaps should have remained. The supporting characters, especially the humans, are superfluous and don’t add a great deal. The gods are there but don’t have the same magnificence as in their ‘proper pantheon’. It did make me chuckle to see Thor return in the body of a fluffy dog though!
The second half is full of betrayal and bluff and counter bluff in so much that it becomes overly confusing and complicated. I admit to getting getting lost at times.The once promising relationship between Loki and Jumps ends up being a little forced to carry the plot along and a bit of a complicated mess. It’s not as good as the first book and although a sequel, totally different and could stand alone.
The Testament ofLoki reads more like a YA novel and offers itself to a wider audience. There are more YA titles in the author’s Runemark series where this novel sits better. If you enjoyed this, check them out It helps If you have read the sequel, Gospel but not essential. A little knowledge of Norse Mythology may help you along though. It’s fun and a bit silly but just lacked the charm of its predecessor.