Have you ever found a book that you want so much to read, to continue reading, that you carry it around everywhere you go, hoping for a quiet child-free, chores-free, pet-free, shopping-free moment in which to savour another few pages? It's been a long time since I had that wicked addicted feeling, but in the last week I've been guiltily sneaking reads of Joanne Harris's Runemarks all around the house, the province and beyond.
It's pretty good.
Actually, it's a fabulously well-crafted literary fantasy (come on publishers, pay me, and I'll create book categories for you that you only ever dreamed of).
And it's unputdownable. At times this week, I've wished I was back in the commuter belt, with all that lovely train-time on my hands.
Maddy Smith is an outsider. The rusty-coloured runemark on her hand scars her with a symbol of the old gods. It's a sign of magic, and everybody knows that magic is dangerous...Except for Maddy, who actually thinks it's all rather fun. The trouble starts, however, when Maddy's one friend, an itinerant pedlar, wants her to open Red Horse Hill and descend into World Below - a world filled with goblins and perhaps something even worse - to retrieve a mysterious relic of the old gods. Based around characters from the Norse myths, the story weaves its way underground for an earth-shattering adventure.
In its review, The Times uses the terms "rollocks along" and "spunky" in the same column. The Times has gone downhill a bit lately, but you get the point. The book is full of energy, excitement and laughs, and owes a lot, I think, to Douglas Adams. Harris's real success here (in me 'umble opinion), is her conception of the appearance and powers of the gods, and her extraordinary vision of the Norse-inspired worlds of Hel, Dream and Netherworld.
A virtuoso piece.
PS By lunchtime it was drizzling, and by the time Mama and the dotties stood at the foot of the hill looking up, it was chucking it down.
Copyright © Louise Bostock 2007, 2008. All rights reserved. Please ask first.