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Joanne Harris

Average Review Rating Average Rating 8/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Doubleday

Published : 2007

Copyright : Joanne Harris 2007

ISBN-10 : HB 0-38561-130-7
ISBN-13 : HB 978-0-38561-130-5

Publisher's Write-Up

They call it a ruinmark…

Maddy Smith - born with a rusty-coloured rune shape on her hand - has always been an outsider in her village. For the good folk of Malbry believe a ruinmark to be a symbol of the old gods, a mark of magic.And that, as everyone knows, is the road to Chaos. Dangerous.

But Maddy enjoys working magic, even if it is just to control some pesky goblins. And every time he visits, her best friend - a good-for-nowt Outlander known as One-Eye - has been teaching her more and more about the old ways: about gods and glamours, runes and cantrips.

Now One-Eye is back again, and he wants her to open Red Horse Hill and descend into World Below to retrieve a relic of the old gods.

Otherwise - apparently - it could be the End of Everything. Again...

An epic runic romp into the heart of the old Norse tales: wild, dangerous, richly inventive and superbly imaginative.

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Chrissi (300907) Rating (8/10)

Review by Chrissi
Rating 8/10
Runemarks is the first children's book to be published by Joanne Harris and I hope not the last. It is well constructed and very engaging, with a likeable cast of characters and an interesting premise. It worked well for me as an adult with a small knowledge of Norse Mythology, but it would appeal greatly to an older child with a love of adventure.

Her heroine, Maddy, has a mark on her hand which sets her apart from the people with whom she lives and causes them to treat her with suspicion. She can use magic, and we first meet her trying to rid the cellar of the Inn where she works of goblins. Her magic is intuitive, as she has had little formal training and she causes the cellar to be filled with creepy crawlies in trying to stop a goblin from escaping. She leaves before the landlady and her nasty son see what she has managed to do.

Maddy's only friend is an old man called One-Eye. Considered by the village folk to be a mad vagrant, he has passed through the area regularly for years. He and Maddy first met before the start of this story and he has been teaching her small charms to use magic. She was concerned that harm had befallen him as he was late in arriving this year.

Maddy is right to be concerned because their society is ruled by religious men who frown upon the old ways. Story telling and the use of any imagination can result in a trial followed by a "cleansing". This is as nasty as it sounds, although the totalitarian regime has been in place for so long that people do not question why some people are punished for being different. The local religious man is powerful and after Maddy refused to help him open a forbidden text, he is biding his time, waiting for an opportunity to punish her.

Joanne Harris weaves a fabulous story through the use of magic, myth and the abuse of power. Although not as sensual as much of her writing for adults, her story is rich with detail and you cannot help but get swept up in the narrative as Maddy attempts to find her place in the world. Along the way we meet characters that are half remembered from stories and yet they are not quite how we thought they were, a bit like the contrast between Disney and the brothers Grimm, both familiar and yet alien.
Chrissi (30th September 2007)

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