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Five past midnight, three years after the End of the World, and, as usual, there was nothing to be seen or heard in the catacombs – except, of course , for the rats and (if you believed in them) the ghosts of the dead.
Runelight is set in a world coming back to life, but it is also a world in conflict. For Maddy, born with the mark of magic on her hand, the return of the old gods and the overthrow of the brutal Order who suppressed them is a time of excitement. But for Maggie, raised as part of the Order, it is a time of chaos and desolation, as her family and values are wiped out.
Like the two girls, the new world remains divided – the old regime has gone but with nothing to take its place, anarchy is beginning to spread…
Joanne Harris draws us back into the richly imagined world first introduced in Runemarks -a world not unlike our own, had it been shaped by the Vikings instead of the Romans. But if its inhabitants, including Maddy and Maggie, can’t solve their differences soon, they will destroy their world altogether.
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The author is one of my favourites...The author's wonderful imagination is showcased to great effect. - The Sun
Harris has tweaked our world to provide the basis of hers, but given it a complex and attractive back story, mixing up all sorts of Norse myths with a well imagined scheme of her own. - Telegraph
Imagine if civilisation as we know had been shaped wholly by the Vikings that invaded our shores more than a millennium ago. Welcome to the world of Joanne Harris's Runelight. - Liverpool Echo
A writer of tremendous charm - Times
Runelight is enjoyable, funny and dramatic. (8/10) - Liverpool Daily Post
A second book by the Chocolat author in a series for young adults that reinterpre and adapt Norse mythology... but this time [Maddy] has some unexpected allies. 4* - Nottingham Evening Post
Runelight is the second in a series of books for young adults that reinterpret and adapt Norse mythology. [...] Despite the death of her friend Odin, Maddy must once again fight the forces of Chaos as her old enemies seek to use her unknown sister to regain strength. - Bristol Evening Post
Runelight is enjoyable, funny and dramatic, but sadly over-long. 4/5 - Hull Daily Mail
I read the original Runemarks a few years ago, yet even so, it's a title I remember fairly well as I loved the complexities as well as plot intrigue that Joanne had woven within almost as if she were a Norn herself. Yet this book almost dwarves that with its huge plot, more twists than the roots of Yggdrasil and just as complex with the developments as well as emotional turmoil for the characters within. It's a beautiful piece of writing and whilst it took a little time to get back into the spirit of, it was well worth the time and effort and lets face it a book aimed at this market at 600 pages has to have something special woven within to keep the target audience happy. Add to this the introduction of a new character who's just as tough as the original which when backed with cracking prose and wonderful pace alongside classically complex world building and it's a title that was really hard to put down for sleep at the end of the night. Great stuff and definitely a title I'd recommend to others, provided you're prepared to do a little slogging first to get to the good stuff. - http://tattystreasurechest.blogspot.com/
Chocolat author Joanne Harris is best known for her evocative, food-inspired novels, but Runelight is the second in a series of books for young adults that reinterpret and adapt Norse mythology. It is three years after the events of Runemarks. Maddy Smith, one of Thor's twin daughters, is living in Malbry and is more powerful than the fallen gods of the Aesir and the Vanir thanks to the runemark on her hand. Despite the death of her friend Odin, Maddy must once again fight the forces of Chaos as old enemies seek to use her unknown sister to regain strength. But this time she has some unexpected allies to help stave off another End of the Worlds. A preface provides a summary of the previous plot for new readers, and Runelight is enjoyable, funny and dramatic, but sadly overlong due to its constant repetitions of earlier events in each chapter. - Retford Times
You have to admit that 'Runemarks' does have an absolutely killer first line: 'Seven o'clock on a Monday morning, five hundred years after the End of the World, and goblins had been at the cellar again.' ....
Her breakout novel was the deservedly international best-seller 'Chocolat' and her subsequent books since have been similarly first-person, French-inspired narratives with a couple of exceptions.....This was never exactly the same audience that 'Runemarks' was going to appeal to by any means.
What 'Runemarks' does have going for it these days is that the End of the World referred to earlier is actually Ragnarok and the Norse gods are certainly a little more familiar now than they used to be. It's also an obvious passion-project for Joanne Harris, going by the rather lovely section of her website devoted to explaining how it evolved from her first ever attempt completed manuscript.which goes some way to account for the fact that it feels so, well, familiar. It doesn't read quite like Joanne Harris, but it does feel awfully like a certain type of fantasy book of the post-'Lord Of The Rings' era.
What it does have is enthusiasm for the mythology in bucket-loads and an entire pantheon of Norse gods, re-imagined in various ways. Loki always, always steals the show no matter how the mythology is done and this Loki is no exception and it is fairly entertaining, especially the goblins!
It's an ambitious length for a book that pitches slightly young(er than 14)
...there is a lot of to like about 'Runemarks'. It's colourful and entertaining with a good eye for the chaos caused by a bunch of meddling deities and an appealing and determined main character in Maddie and you could do a lot worse as an introduction to Norse mythology.
Perhaps it never quite lives up to the promise of that first line, but it certainly gets a gold star for effort. - http://www.sfcrowsnest.com/articles/books/2012/Runemarks-by-Joanne-Harris-16549.php
About the Author
Joanne Harris is an Anglo-French author, whose books include fourteen novels, two cookbooks and many short stories. Her work is extremely diverse, covering aspects of magic realism, suspense, historical fiction, mythology and fantasy. She has also written a Doctor Who novella for the BBC, has scripted guest episodes for the game Zombies, Run!, and is currently engaged in a number of musical theatre projects as well as developing an original drama for television. In 2000, her 1999 novel Chocolat was adapted to the screen, starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. She is an honorary Fellow of St Catharine's College, Cambridge, and in 2013 was awarded an MBE by the Queen.