Published by Josephtailor on October 3, 2020
Gods make lousy parents.
All Magni wants is peace and quiet, but when your father is the God of thunder, you don't get to live the life you want. When Thor destroys all his son knows and loves, Magni vows to bring prosperity and end the violence... forever. But can you escape cruelty in a universe built on it, or the shadow of your father when everyone calls you by his name?
Maya, her rage more powerful than she knows, wants freedom to pursue her own destiny. Neither torture nor blackmail can make her obedient or pretty enough for Freya, her foster-mother and Goddess of love. Fighting for independence and revenge, can a mere human win a game where Gods dictate the rules?
2020 Stabby Nominee -Best Self-Published/Independent Novel
Norse fiction has become incredibly popular with the skyrocketing popularity of programs like Vikings and the marvel universe. It interests me with its snapshot into history, the way they lived, their culture and most importantly, smashing stereotypes that have long been held as gospel. Learning about the Nine Worlds, Ragnarök – the end of the world, their theory on how the world was created, the mind-blowing idea of Valhalla (which by the way, sounds way more appealing than a heaven vs hell scenario) and the tree of life – Yggdrasil. Life was steeped in these beliefs; the Norse were incredibly family orientated and were not these brutal and barbaric invaders that the Britons held them in. Well, they were invaders but for reasons that are more complex and complicated than these early Saxons would have us believe.
I introduce to you, Children by Bjørn Larssen. This was the first novel that blew me away and made me look at Norse Mythology in a different light. It is a one in a lifetime read and, if you are as passionate at educating yourself in that ferocious period in history then I recommend highly that you read it, NOW. It is a book that holds a very special place in my heart. Imagine the feeling of all the stars aligning, winning the lottery, finding a long lost relative. This book has everything. The blurb and the front cover are magnificent, but it pales in comparison to the decadent characterization and prose that is as majestic as a winter sunset. If I was to sum it up perfectly, Children is exactly what Norse Fiction should be and Bjørn Larssen is a master craftsman.
Be prepared to be knocked sideways by stunning dialogue. I’m not ashamed to admit that the author brought more than a few tears to my eyes, but I also laughed myself silly. That hasn’t happened to me since reading this story, I’m a bit of a hard nut to crack so this just proves the strength of this novel on a humanity level. Larssen has that rare ability to make you care about every single character, from the ones that really don’t deserve our love to the ones that need it the most – he examines the human condition with consummate skill.
Everything about Norse Mythology is captured perfectly. The darkness, the danger, the pain but with flashes of humour and humanity thrown in. The atmosphere and the landscape had me closing my eyes and imagining myself crossing that rainbow bridge and being in the land of Thor, Loki, Freyja and Odin. We see what it would be like to be the Children of these very popularized Norse Gods and realise very quickly, that it isn’t everything it was cracked up to be.
When we think of the word Children, what does it conjure up? Carefree, laughter, a younger version of their parents. The word carries significant weight and every parent around the world recognises just what that means. They come into our lives and change it. This beautiful novel gives the reader a snapshot of just how they affect relationships and lives. Unfortunately, we see that Children can be a product of their upbringing and just how trauma can impact every facet of their existence. This was a super imaginative but ambitious concept and I’m extremely happy to report that Larssen pulled it off beautiful resonance.
I’m not pulling any punches, this is hand on my heart, the best book I have ever read, and likely to ever read regarding Norse Mythology. I couldn’t turn the pages quick enough and loved just how the author took the societal views of the Gods and just smacked it upside the head. Yes, they are these strong and all knowing and powerful gods but when it comes to parenting, well they fail and trip up just like the rest of us mere mortals. Larssen has taken mythology and twisted it so far that you start to question whether the original is the original or is this far more likely to be the real deal.
Norse Mythology isn’t a sweet fairy-tale that we tell our children to aid sleep, it is a murderous, brutal world that will gut you open if you aren’t paying attention. Forget Thor and Odin, Bjørn Larssen is the real god here! Told through the eyes of Magni and Maya. They are both living in the respective shadows of their parents. I mean how is it even possible to step out of the shadow of the all-powerful, Thor. This is no happy tale – both the protagonists are extremely worse for wear having been abused and being exposed to horrific instances of neglect, it’s enough to bring a tear to a glass eye. The author really doesn’t sugar-coat the extremes of good and bad. The characterisation and development are second to none.
The author tackled hard hitting themes in Children and the result is a painfully raw but a testament to the will of the human condition. This is a book that you won’t stop turning the pages to. At its core it’s a story about the brutality of love, abuse, and survival. If you read one book this year it must be Children, this is most definitely in my top five favourite books read this year. This is one book that is most definitely worth the cerebral investment.
I am excited to see where the author takes this next. I am addicted and compelled to read more of this universe, I’d love to read more stories from the nine worlds. This has become a buy everything author for me. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my ramblings. If you’ve read Children please let me know your thoughts in the comments.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bjørn Larssen is a Norse heathen made in Poland, but mostly located in a Dutch suburb, except for his heart which he lost in Iceland. Born in 1977, he self-published his first graphic novel at the age of seven in a limited edition of one, following this achievement several decades later with his first book containing multiple sentences and winning awards he didn’t design himself. His writing is described as ‘dark’ and ‘literary’, but he remains incapable of taking anything seriously for more than 60 seconds.
Bjørn has a degree in mathematics and has worked as a graphic designer, a model, a bartender, and a blacksmith (not all at the same time). His hobbies include sitting by open fires, dressing like an extra from Vikings, installing operating systems, and dreaming about living in a log cabin in the north of Iceland. He owns one (1) husband and is owned by one (1) neighbourhood cat.
Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal winner (Storytellers)
2020 Stabby Award Nominee (Children)