book review

Review: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman is just that–Gaiman’s own retelling of the classic Norse myths. Having an interest in Norse mythology and Gaiman himself, I actually pre-ordered this book. Before reading it, I probably didn’t know as much about the Gods as I should have…although I did know a bit (Marvel’s Thor and Vikings aside!) If you’re looking for a basic overview of the main Norse myths, Gods, giants, realms, creatures, etc–Gaiman’s Norse Mythology has you covered. It was also a very quick read, albeit pleasant and interesting in how these myths relate to other cultures’ myths, religions, and legends, as well as to modern TV and Cinema (again, looking at you Marvel and Vikings.) Norse Mythology was a bit shorter than I expected, but I did learn stories and terms I wasn’t familiar with before. Terms, with a quick google search spot check, that have already proven to be namesake’s for metal bands (Because of course they are! There goes my viking metal band Fimbulwinter or Naglfar!)

I’m a visual learner, so this might just be my opinion, but I really think Norse Mythology could have greatly benefitted from illustration. I would have liked to have seen a chart of Yggdrasil in the front, complete with realm names and the creatures who live around the roots and branches. I would have liked to have seen an illustration or two for each tale (I read the e-book version, so maybe the hard copy has illustrations, but I don’t think so?) I believe Gaiman’s Odd and the Frost Giants (2016) had a tad of illustration, as it is geared toward a younger audience. However, I feel Norse Mythology could easily be read by a younger audience as well (there is a bit of gore.)

Overall, Norse Mythology makes you want to cozy up to a fire while a snowstorm rages as you devour tales of the Gods and their colorful exploits–but don’t expect any in depth story lines or fully fleshed out characters, as these are merely tales retold with a dash of Gaiman’s distinct flavor.

Grade: B-