Odd and the Frost Giants (Hardback) by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Chris Riddell.

th-1I found this book while nosing around one of my favourite independent bookshops, Mr B’s Emporium in Bath.  It was an impulse buy and has turned out to be one of my favourite reads this year!  Beautifully written with glorious illustrations.

I don’t normally read illustrated books, but I’m glad I read this one and will certainy be reading more. This could rapidly turn into a new book addiction.

Odd and the Frost Giants is the retelling of the legends of the Nordic Gods, Oddin, Thor and my personal favourite, the ever mischievous Loki, combined with a young hero called Odd, who leaves home and ecounters an adventure with a bear, an eagle and a fox.

It’s a clever retelling of the story of the Gods of Asgard, now made so popular by the superb Marvel films.  Given this story has already been adapted by previous writers, managing to create a new tale from an older epic is a spendid achievement; especially when it manages to charm young and older readers alike.  It’s a rare book in that it spans a wide ranging readership and like the Harry Potter books is capable of bridging the generational divide.

To try to explain why I loved this book so much, I need to remember the unique joy reading brought me as a child.  Like everyone I learnt to read from books that were a visual medium as well as a textual one.  Words and pictures combined to attract a child’s attention and this book gave me that as an adult. It made reading once again a simpler experience. Joyful!

Please don’t think i’m suggesting reading adult books isn’t magical, because it is, but in an altogether different way!  Adult books are often much more complex creatures, full of grown-up themes as they should be.  This book managed to recreate the feelings I experienced at the begining of my reading journey.  It took me back to a more innocent time in my life, before events, sad and good shaped me into the adult I am now.

Gaiman’s writing and Ridell’s illustrations complement each other perfectly.  They have created a magical and charming tale that should be read by children and adults.  The characterisation is simple and very clever, even Loki the trickster is warm and charming while Odd the erstwhile hero is easy to love.

Though the story is based on epic tales of the gods, it manages to remain simple enough for the child to understand its themes of loyalty, love, friendship and bravery, while charming enough to entertain those adults lucky enough to read it.

I think it’s ony fair to say that you really need to read it in paperback/hardback form or at the very least on a tablet, just to be able to appreciate the magical quality created by the combination of words and illustrations.  A normal eReader is simply not going to do this version of the tale the justice it deserves.

I would recommend this book to any reader. Revisit a simpler period of your reading life, when reading was a more innocent experience.  I wouldn’t change the books I read now as an adult, I need the complexity of their themes, but a part of me will forever be rooted in the childhood reading nook, taking grand adventures and then cwtches from my mum and dad.  The world was smaller to me then.  Books remain my soul mates and that period was the beginning of the love affair.




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