Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman is a book of short stories about Norse myths that are well known but told in Gaiman's unique writing style. These stories are centered around Odin, his son Thor, and his sworn blood brother Loki. The stories start at the beginning where the Norse myths explain how everything was made and end at Ragnarok. Some of the stories are well known and others are less known (at least to me, someone who has limited knowledge of Norse mythology).
First, I have to mention the cover, which is absolutely beautiful. The simplistic art of Mjollnir, the dark background with the silver hammer. All of it, I think it's gorgeous, and the velvety feel of the cover definitely doesn't hurt. It's one of my favorite covers. Now, onto the contents of the book. I loved this book of short stories. When I read that the majority of the stories are centered around Odin, Thor, and Loki I was pumped. Norse mythology is probably my favorite types of myths, I remember reading kid friendly versions of some of these stories when I was younger. It doesn't help that Thor is definitely in my top five favorite superheros, so I couldn't help but picture the actors from the movies as the main three.
The first fifty pages or so can be a bit confusing to people who are new to Norse mythology. It starts off with how the gods were born, how Yggdrasil, the world tree is connected to each of the nine worlds, and it briefly explains the nine worlds. There are a lot of weird names and it can be a bit daunting, but I channeled my inner Hermione Granger and just took notes of the names and little definitions of everything. I didn't need it at all while reading the dozen stories, but taking notes helped me retain the information and it helped me stay focused. So although the first fifty pages or so can seem a bit slow for some, I 100% recommend pushing through it because the short stories themselves are worth it.
The dozen stories fly by quickly, some are hilarious where others are a bit brutal and violent. Out of all of the stories there were only two or three that I didn't completely love, however they were enjoyable I just took a little longer to finish them. The humor came off perfectly and I found myself laughing out loud often when reading Thor's (and really everyone's) annoyance with Loki, or the clever ways in which Loki's mind worked, or even Freya being sick of everyone trying to give away her hand in marriage. Of course, because it's a book about Norse gods and goddesses there is violence and brutality, and it was written well. I did find myself not as invested in a the two stories that have little to no Thor or Loki in the stories (I love them so much) but all of the stories as a whole were really fun to read.
Gaiman does a great job with having each main player in the stories have their own individual characteristics and the relationship between Thor, Loki, and everyone else. Freya, a character that isn't brought up as much as the main three, quickly became a favorite of mine because of how kick-butt she was. I also loved Thor and Loki, as I assumed I would. I did have a little confusion at the beginning, because it says that Loki is Odin's "blood brother" which I didn't mean that meant, sworn brothers but not really related, but once I looked it up it made more sense. I have always known Loki as Thor's brother by adoption, so it was cool to learn that in some versions of the stories Loki and Odin are actually sworn blood brothers. I found that really interesting, and I liked the idea.
Overall, I absolutely loved this book of short stories. I think it was well written (which I expected, since it's Gaiman), the stories were for the most part really exciting to read, and the characters were ones I easily rooted for (or against, in Loki's case). I recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more Norse stories, who maybe like Thor and Loki in the Marvel films, and/or anyone who likes Gaiman's writing style.
Also, I buddy read this with Erica from Erica Robyn Reads, so I recommend clicking here and head over to her review on Norse Mythology! Come discuss it with us on either of our reviews!