Runelight by Joanne Harris
Review by Jasper de Joode
Six hundred miles apart, two girls each bear on their skin a runemark: a symbol of the Old Days when the known Worlds were ruled by the gods from their sky citadel, Asgard. Now Asgard lies in ruins, and the power of the gods has long since been destroyed. Or so everyone thinks. But nothing is lost for ever, and the gods haven’t given up yet and they want the power of the runes borne by Maddy and Maggie – these new runes, which carry huge potential, their runelight shining out as a portent to the future. Soon both girls are swept into a maelstrom of cataclysmic events that are to draw them closer and closer to each other, and nearer and nearer to a horrific struggle where each must prove where their loyalty lies…
Runelight is the sequel to Runemarks and takes places a few years after the events that occurred in the first book.
It was pretty late when I picked up Runemarks and when I started reading “I’m Maggie” I thought to myself hmm.. something does not seem correct. So I picked up Runemarks again and I convinced myself that it did state Maddy. So back to Runelight again… Maggie, so I went Maddy-Maggie, Maggie-Maddy, Modi- and then the quarter fell. The Maddy-Modi reference was revealed in Runemarks and because of this early introduction I was directly drawn into Runelight and I just HAD to finish it.
From the start of Runelight I immediately got a different feeling. Everything felt different, while there was a much darker feel about Runemarks, Runelight actually felt a lot lighter. The writing style was also lighter and felt that much more compelling and engaging and was more suited for a younger reading audience. Although Runelight is the sequel to Runemarks it is not necessary to read Runemarks per se as there is a nice introduction portraying the past events but if you want to get a fully detailed background it is worthwhile picking up the prequel.–
Story wise I enjoyed Runelight very much. It has everything its predecessor had but just a tinge better. The same emphasis of Norse mythology is noticeable, but with all the gods already more or less introduced Joanne Harris delves right into using the past occurrences and uses them to create even deeper, detailed and funnier characters. Where there were only a few gods really highlighted in Runemarks, now every god gets to say and do his part. And Joanne Harris even introduced more gods. The Norse deities that were noteworthy for me were again Loki and of course Odin. In the ruins of Runemarks four new Aesir made an appearance in a very inventive and original way these Aesir were: Thor, Ethel, Tyr and Sif. I found that these four really added much to the already great cast of Runemarks in Runelight. They – having been drawn into human bodies – still have some of the memories of their former hosts. This duology with their previous inhabitants and the new ones was perfectly shown. Especially Tyr, inhabiting the body of Sugar is just greatly done. But also I must mention Sif in Fat Lizzy as this just made me grin broadly. Thor in particular was a great character and together with his hammer Mjolnir gave some pretty hilarious scenes. I can continue with naming the great things about each and every god, but they were just fantastic. Let me just finish with: Lucky’s Pan-Daemonium Circus!
The introduction of Maggie on top of Maddy played directly into a reference of Runemarks. Both being shown as excellent female heroines. Maggie had some of the virtues of Maddy but also many differences. And these differences were shown nicely and characterized Maggie as a strong character but true to how she was brought up even with the persuasion of Odin. Maggie although having similar traits as Maddy was shown to be a unique character. She remained true to the readings of the Good Book and goes quite stubbornly her own way with some disastrous consequences.
And just when I thought the Whisperer was finished in Runemarks… I was wrong, but in for a treat as well. The re-introduction of The Whisperer was brilliantly done the force that he exerts on the storyline felt throughout the whole book and gives a sinister feel at times. It was nice to see that when he is exerting his power on Maggie, she remains pretty stubborn and true to her character this is often times a similar response that Odin get to Maggie.
I can say that Runelight is an awesome book in which Joanne Harris really has proven herself a fine author once again. I was already pretty pleased with Runemarks but with Runelight she has really raised the bar. A very strong and unique plotline, hefty fight scenes, dramatic revelations and witty, funny and compelling dialogue make this a highly recommended read.
What did you think about Runelight?
Submit your own reader review and award the book the rating you think it deserves.