The Secrets of Valhalla
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Secrets of Valhalla is a fantasy steeped in Norse mythology by Jasmine Richards (The Book of Wonders).While the storytelling is confusing, the violence is milder than mythological stories by Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson series). On a quest to save the world from the whims of awakening Norse gods, a boy and girl see a dragon kidnap a woman, watch a man try to kill a wolf with a sword, step on skeletons in a tunnel, and see some of their worst fears -- the boy thinks he sees himself killing his father in the future.
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What's the Story?
When Buzz meets Mary, a new girl at school, they click somehow. He decides to walk her home through Tangley Woods, and both spot the strangest thing: the local weatherwoman who had been declared missing tied to an enormous tree by a fire rope. But that's not the weirdest thing about the encounter. She claims to be the Norse day guardian, Sunna, who'd been slumbering in the weatherwoman's body. But then Loki broke free from his prison, and her godly alter ego had to emerge to stop him. She and the other day guardians need to gather back their power that's been trapped in ruins and hidden. They all need their runes and restored power to defeat Loki. Before they can free Sunni and help her, she's whisked away by a dragon into the underworld. Buzz and Mary don't know what to do to help, so they go home. After no one believes Buzz, he tries to forget the whole thing, but things just keep getting stranger. Without the day guardians around, he keeps waking up on the same Saturday morning, and only Mary and Buzz seem to notice.
Is It Any Good?
Even following a tried-and-true formula of modern kids having mythological adventures, this story is too lacking in fundamental areas to make it work. SECRETS OF VALHALLA never takes off because it doesn't take the time to build this world or the characters in it. Readers never have a chance to be in awe of the mysteries of Tangley woods because author Jasmine Richards doesn't fully describe it or why Buzz's father is so entranced by it. And each time Buzz and his sidekick Mary travel to a cloud palace or an undersea kingdom, readers will be too lost in her lack of careful description to be awed by the author's creativity.
A sense of the characters on the landscape she creates is also missing, as are thoughtful descriptions of characters and their motivations. It's hard to ever feel grounded in this story. Even or perhaps especially in fantasy realms, you have to ground the writing enough to tell a compelling story. A winning formula won't do all the work.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Norse mythology. Did you learn anything new about the Norse gods from reading this story?
Kids who read a lot of fantasy can talk about world-building. Did you get a clear sense of this Norse world colliding with our own? Why, or why not? Which authors do you think are the best at creating worlds?
What is your favorite mythology series? What is it about mythology that still enthralls readers?
- Author: Jasmine Richards
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Ocean Creatures
- Book type: Fiction
- Publication date: December 21, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 320
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: July 13, 2017
Our Editors Recommend
Percy Jackson's Greek Gods
Huge gift book of Percy-narrated Greek myths is tons of fun.
The Sword of Summer: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 1
Exciting Norse mythology adventure with Percy-like hero.
Seven Wonders Book 1: The Colossus Rises
Super-teens clash with ancient history in OK series start.
For kids who love fantasy amd mythology
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