Yet another one of Joanne Harris' books I found and loved.
If you pick up this book and are expecting Marvel, don't. Much of mythology has its roots in oral tradition, meaning stories passed on over the years naturally evolve and are told in different ways. Marvel took what they wanted and ran with it. Joanne Harris did her research and did the same (I assume, anyway; I don't know Norse mythology at all).
It's not often that the guys painted as villains get their say, so I'm glad Harris chose Loki for her subject. Much of the beginning is scene setting - how the world was created, according to the Allfather Odin, and so on - which was interesting and necessary for scene setting and acclimatising the reader to the world of the Norse gods - but it's when I got past this bit that the story really hooked me. I mentally 'ooh-d' and 'ahhh-d' at regular intervals, and was mainly just really impressed at Loki and how he a) managed to orchestrate very tricky and clever traps for the gods to fall into and b) how he managed to get himself disentangled from whatever situation (mostly) in which he found himself ensnared.
The writing flowed along easily and the story was well-paced - I would compare it to floating in the river Dream often referred to in the story, although it's not the best analogy as Dream is a frightening place to be, by all accounts. I could have sat for hours at a time losing myself in Loki's mishaps and his triumphs, and would be so happy if there was another Loki-based story. I was wondering where Harris' other two books set against the backdrop of Norse mythology - Runemarks and Runelight, both really good stories - fitted into this, though perhaps the timing is unrelated.
Anyway, I would highly recommend the book and I'm so glad I got to read it at last.