Book Review: The Testament of Loki by Joanne M. Harris
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Series: Book 2 of Loki
Publisher: Saga Press (May 22, 2018)
Length: 272 pages
The Testament of Loki is the sequel to The Gospel of Loki, shifting the eponymous trickster’s story in a new and unique direction that I honestly wasn’t expecting. Granted, it’s been a while since I read the first book, but I don’t recall things being quite so outlandish and kooky. I will say that I missed some of the grander, more sublime and solemn mythological aspects, though I still enjoyed this book because as luck would have it, I was in the perfect mood for a more cheerful, lighthearted read.
Following Ragnarok and the fall of Asgard, Loki has survived but finds himself trapped in a kind of purgatory, though of course, no prison can hold the wily god for long. Discovering a gateway to Earth through a mysterious link in a Norse mythology-themed video game, Loki escapes the netherworld by entering the mind of one the game’s players, a teenage girl named Jumps.
Confused at this turn of events but not about to let it spoil his good mood, Loki is delighted in the prospect of enjoying everything our modern world has to offer. However, his host has other plans. Almost immediately, Jumps rains on his parade, saying no to junk food or any kind of fun, driving him insane with stressful thoughts of school exams, body issues, social drama and romance—all things about which a Norse god would have very little understanding. Soon though, Loki discovers that he was not the only one to have escaped the netherworld. If he’d managed to hitch a ride in the mind of an earthly host, it means other Asgardians could have done so too.
This book was a quick read, and a lot of fun to boot. That said, I don’t know that everyone will feel the same way, especially if you had anticipated a novel similar in tone and style to The Gospel of Loki, which I felt was a more literary endeavor and even its humor was a little more sophisticated. This one almost feels juvenile, superficial and mainstream in comparison, appealing more to pop culture and the current obsession with Loki thanks to Marvel and Hollywood. Still, the result is a very innovative blend of mythology and urban fantasy, reimagining the Norse gods in a modern setting. Also, putting Loki in the body of a teenage girl might just be the greatest stroke of genius, as it presented so many opportunities for comic relief and other hijinks.
Fortunately, one thing that did not change too much from the first book was the voice of Loki, who’s as self-indulgent and vain as ever. Our protagonist’s relationship with Jumps is off to a hilarious start with his scandalized reaction to the fact that Thor is her favorite Norse god. Next comes the embarrassing dinner with the grandmother, and the disastrous English exam at school. However, there’s more to this book than simply throwing our unlikely partners into as many compromising scenarios as possible; as Loki gets to learn more about his host, he realizes Jumps is a troubled girl dealing with a lot of personal issues. To his credit, he does try to help—insofar as a trickster like him can offer any kind of useful assistance. Nevertheless, it’s interesting how the story deals with some of the more serious and emotional coming-of-age subjects that touch the lives of many young adults today.
The second half of the novel moves into a more abstract and metaphysical territory, and regrettably, I think this is where the plot started to lose me a bit. On the positive side, these sections greatly expanded the world-building, not to mention it also linked Loki and Jumps’ tale to the overarching epic storyline underlying the series, involving the ancient mysteries and powers tying everything together. Those revelations alone kept me reading even when the dream-like sequences went into high gear and threatened to overwhelm, mainly because they offered so much insight into the connections between the mythological world to our mortal realm.
All in all, The Testament of Loki was a decent sequel, entertaining and quirky enough to qualify for light reading, though occasionally there would be a few nuggets of wisdom to chew on. I think it’s worth picking up this if you enjoyed The Gospel of Loki or have any interest at all in the author’s Runemarks sequence.
More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of The Gospel of Loki (Book 1)