Saturday, June 14, 2014

Odin’s Ravens by K.L. Armstrong & M.A. Marr

Series: The Blackwell Pages (bk. 2)

Genera(s): Paranormal/Fantasy/Adventure

Subjects: gods, magic, mythology, Norse mythology, supernatural, werewolves

Setting: The underworld (Hel) and the Black Hills of South Dakota

POV/Tense: 3rd person POV, past tense, rotating between Matt, Fen, Laurie and Owen

Age/Grade Level: Middle Grade, 11+

Length: 342 pgs.

HC/PB: Hardcover

List Price: $17.00

Publisher: Hachette: Little, Brown

Summary/ product description: “Seven kids, Thor's hammer, and a whole lot of Valkyries are the only things standing against the end of the world.

When thirteen-year-old Matt Thorsen, a modern day descendant of the Norse god Thor, was chosen to represent Thor in an epic battle to prevent the apocalypse he thought he knew how things would play out. Gather the descendants standing in for gods like Loki and Odin, defeat a giant serpent, and save the world. No problem, right?

But the descendants' journey grinds to a halt when their friend and descendant Baldwin is poisoned and killed and Matt, Fen, and Laurie must travel to the Underworld in the hopes of saving him. But that's only their first stop on their journey to reunite the challengers, find Thor's hammer, and stop the apocalypse--a journey filled with enough tooth-and-nail battles and larger-than-life monsters to make Matt a legend in his own right.

Authors K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr return to Blackwell in the epic sequel to Loki's Wolves with more explosive action, adventure and larger-than-life Norse legends.”

My Review:  Odin’s Ravens is an interesting sequel to one of the few middle grade books I’ve read since becoming an adult. I usually read only YA books, but like the Percy Jackson series, The Blackwell Pages has appeal that all ages will enjoy. I only know four other books or series with Norse mythology, and loved how it was used throughout the book. It’s not copying Percy Jackson. It has humor and mythology like Rick Riodan’s books, and descendants of the goods, but this series is about Ragnarok, the end of the world and an eternal winter.

The characters don’t have a lot of depth to them, or maybe it’s just that it’s 3rd person POV. Matt is kind of a nerd, but he wrestles in school and is Thor’s champion and descendant. Fen and Laurie are descendants of Loki. Fen is very protective of his cousin Laurie, and he can turn into a wolf. Laurie can open portals. She also smart and likes that guy named Owen who’s the descendant of Odin and can see the future. The most humorous character is Baldwin, descendant of Balder. He died in Loki’s Wolves and is in Hel. Baldwin’s like to joke and he’s not smart, but everyone likes him. Ray and Rayna don’t appear again till later in the book, and they like to dress goth-style. All the characters seem to be around age 13.

As a fan of Thor and the Avengers movies, I kind of kept on picturing the actors from the movies. Sadly, there are no gods in this book, except Helen who rules over Hel. Instead, the characters represent the god and are supposed to play out the myth at Ragnarok. Matt’s abilities are growing. He has a Hammer punch and can control ice and lightning. He’s becoming the new Thor. All he has to do is retrieve the Hammer, Mjolnir.

There’s adventure and action. There’s illustrations to backup the story. It’s really fun and there’s some hilarious scenes. There are giants, Valkyries, zombies, magic goats, and crows. There’s eve a bison stampede, which I can relate to. We actually got stuck in a bison herd traffic jam in Custer State Park when we camped in South Dakota. We don’t get as many places in South Dakota as the previous book. I never visited the host spring water park mentioned in the book. I enjoyed it all the same.

I’m not sure if this is a trilogy, but the next book is Thor’s Serpents. I can’t wait to see how it all plays out. Kelley Armstrong and Melissa Marr make a great team. I’m not a fan of Melissa’s Wicked Lovely books, but I love Kelley’s Darkest Powers series. Kelley writes Matt’s POV and Melissa writes Fen and Lauries’s POV. I notice Melissa over uses the word “sorts” and Kelley never used it at all, so they do write a bit differently. I recommend this series to fans of Rick Riodan and other MG and YA mythology related books.

Cover Art Review: I love the digitally painted illustration on the cover and inside the book. They are amazingly well done. The cover is colorful. The other illustrations are very graphic novel/comic book like.

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