Maddy Smith is somewhat shunned by her community, mainly because of the mark of the rune which she has on her hand. She has some innate powers, and when she is seven, she meets a traveling stranger, One-Eye, who arrives in her town only once a year, and generally only stays for a few days. However, things begin to become serious in the valley and One-Eye sends Maddy beneath a mysterious mound on the edge of the village. As Maddy delves deeper into the earth, in search of the mysterious Whisperer, an oracle which predicted Ragnarok, she meets a stranger, Lucky, who has been trapped underground with the Whisperer for 500 years.
Maddy comes up against opposition from all sides, both god and man, and she learns deep secrets about herself and her destiny. She needs to deal with the oppression of The Order (an Inquisition-like society which has made it his mission to obliterate any remnants of the Norse gods who once held dominion over the nine worlds), and deal with the personal squabbles between the remaining gods, all while attempting to save the world.
I enjoyed Joanne Harris’ Runemarks overall. It does for Norse mythology what Rick Riordan did for Greek mythology with his Percy Jackson series–except this is certainly for older teens. It drags in some places, and even some of the action scenes toward the end become a little convoluted and slightly repetitive. It needs a bit of comic relief, which exists in the form of a goblin, although I believe he’s not fleshed out enough. I’m still interested to see what the upcoming sequel will bring.