Two friends awaken a world of myth and magic in this clever middle grade fantasy perfect for fans of Rick Riordan and Anne Ursu. It’s not every day that you find a famous weatherwoman bound by magic to a tree deep in the woods. Or discover that the weatherwoman is in fact Sunna, the Norse Goddess of the Sun, and one of the seven day guardians who keep time in order. But that’s just what happens to new friends Buzz and Mary—and it’s only the start of their adventure. Now, as the people of Earth are forced to repeat the same Saturday over and over again, Buzz and Mary must journey to collect the Runes of Valhalla and awaken the other day guardians, before vengeful god Loki can get to them first.
Secrets of ValhallaFeatured
Loki is always bad news
Buzz's mother has been missing for a while, and his mythologist father, aka the Prof, doesn't pay all that much attention to him or to his sister, Tia. After Buzz meets a new girl at school and they start a tenuous friendship, the two are caught in the woods and see missing news personality Eleanor Bright. Unfortunately, the also see a dragon who takes Eleanor below ground at the root of a giant tree, and Buzz is slightly injured in the altercation. He's bound to convince his father of what he saw, and even brings in his Uncle Mark, a policeman. Mary denies that his story is true, so the adults chalk it up to Buzz being stressed. When Buzz wakes up and it is Saturday for several days in a row, he knows he has to figure some things out. With Mary's help, the two figure out that the Sunna, the Norse day guardian, is missing, and this is why the calendar is stuck. Loki is to blame, so the Runes of Valhalla must be found and returned to the other gods before Loki finds them. This isn't an easy process, and involves traveling to several different realms, since the runes are hiding with the Roman gods. When various friends and family members turn out to be channeling the Norse gods, Buzz realizes he has the help he needs to avoid certain disaster and to tie up all of the loose ends before the end of the book!
Buzz is a somewhat reluctant hero, but he and Mary work well together and muster their forces. They are equal to the task of traveling, dealing with Persephone, Fenris, and other creatures who don't have their best interests at heart! There's plenty of action, so readers who want chases and fighting won't be disappointed.
Mary is described as having tiny braids and is dark complected, and Buzz has very curly hair. His sister is described several times as having caramel colored skin. Fantasy is very low on characters of color, so it's great to see some diverse characters included. I do wish that there would have been a tiny bit more information about the ethnicity of these characters, especially since some of them later turn out to be channeling Norse gods in the British countryside.
There have been very few books featuring Norse mythology, so it's good to see another one. Harris' Runemarks (2007) and Armstrong's Blackwell Pages trilogy (2013) were about the only two I've found, aside from Riordan's new Sword of Summer. Since middle grade readers love to read books that are similar to each other, it's good to see another Norse related fantasy, and it doesn't hurt that there are a few Roman gods thrown in.
Saturday isn't looking so good anymore
What I Liked:
SECRETS OF THE VALHALLA is a fresh take on Norse mythology that's thoroughly engrossing and packed with action and adventure. The story starts with a weatherwoman in danger...but she's not just a weatherwoman. She shares her body with a sleeping goddess named Sunna, who awakens to find that her fellow god Loki is on the loose and is looking for trouble. When Buzz and Mary, two new friends with troubles of their own, find her, it sets off a chain of events that drops the two of them right into a fight that's been going on for centuries. I loved Buzz and Mary's friendship as well as their journey together to find the other guardians needed to bind Loki once more. Their adventure is fraught with danger, not to mention the fact that they keep living through the same Saturday over and over. They take to their new responsibilities admirably, even if at first it seems beyond them.
The Final Verdict:
SECRETS OF VALHALLA is a great adventure story steeped in Norse mythology that will entertain and delight fans of Rick Riordan's series.