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Runemarks [Hardcover]

Joanne Harris
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)

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Book Description

2 Aug 2007
Seven o'clock, on a Monday morning, five hundred years after the end of the world, and goblins had been at the cellar again...Maddy Smith was born with a rusty-coloured ruinmark on her hand - a symbol of the old gods and definitely cause for suspicion. For magic is dangerous. Or so everyone thinks. But Maddy enjoys working magic. Even if it is just to control some pesky goblins. And every time her friend, One-Eye - a good-for-nowt Outlander - comes by, he teaches her more and more about the gods and the runes. Now he wants Maddy to open Red Horse Hill and descend into World Below to retrieve a relic of the old gods. Otherwise it is likely to be the End of Everything. Again...An epic romp into the heart of the old Norse tales: wild, dangerous, richly inventive and superbly imaginative.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday Children's Books; First Edition edition (2 Aug 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385611307
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385611305
  • Product Dimensions: 23.8 x 15.4 x 4.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 270,346 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joanne Harris is the author of the Whitbread-shortlisted Chocolat (made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp) and many other bestselling novels. Her hobbies are listed in Who's Who as 'mooching, lounging, strutting, strumming, priest-baiting and quiet subversion'. She plays bass guitar in a band first formed when she was 16, is currently studying Old Norse, and lives with her husband and daughter in Yorkshire, about 15 miles from the place she was born

Photography © Takazumi Uemura

Product Description

Review

Maddy Smith is a girl who has got it bad. Born with the runemark of the title on her hand, she is an oddball in her village, befriended only by a mysterious old man called One-Eye, who teaches her all she knows of magic. Unlike ordinary humans, Maddy can see goblins, and knows that where her friend's glam (magic) is weak, hers is strong, though quite how strong she only discovers when she goes underground and meets a young man who calls himself Lucky. Before long Maddy is coping with the reawakened Sleepers, formerly Norse gods. Together with a pleasingly cynical oracular head called The Whisperer, who has plans of his own, she has to prevent the Nine Worlds from descending into Chaos.

Ever since Chocolat, Harris has played with the idea that magic might actually work, and it was only a matter of time before she, like many other adult authors, wrote a book for children. Her enjoyment at being able to go the whole hog is palpable, and her dramatic story rollocks along for 536 pages, with magical transformations, nets of blue fire and a spunky heroine. -- The Times, August 25th 2007

This book has a great opening sentence: "Seven o'clock on a Monday morning, 500 years after the End of the World, and goblins had been at the cellar again." Joanne Harris, best known as the author of Chocolat, is good at beginnings and pay-offs: each of the chapters in this nine-part fantasy epic has a punchy finish that makes you want to read on. This is despite the complexity of the story, which is based on Norse myth and uses elaborate geography and hierarchies. Maddy Smith, the novel's young heroine, who was born with a rusty-coloured rune mark on her hand, has powers that make her an outsider in her village, where dream, imagination and magic are frowned upon. A nasty incident in the cellar, however, throws Maddy into the company of Norse gods, goblins and monsters, revisiting the 500-year-old conflict of Ragnarok in which the Old Order of deities was overthrown and a rigid, puritanical regime came into force. Identities and loyalties shift as the plot thickens. Especially enjoyable are Harris's aphorisms, her satire of joyless piety, and the comically irreverent vernacular spoken by a dissolute goblin and the trickster god Loki -- The Sunday Times, August 27th 2007

Review

Maddy Smith is a girl who has got it bad. Born with the runemark of the title on her hand, she is an oddball in her village, befriended only by a mysterious old man called One-Eye, who teaches her all she knows of magic. Unlike ordinary humans, Maddy can see goblins, and knows that where her friend's glam (magic) is weak, hers is strong, though quite how strong she only discovers when she goes underground and meets a young man who calls himself Lucky. Before long Maddy is coping with the reawakened Sleepers, formerly Norse gods. Together with a pleasingly cynical oracular head called The Whisperer, who has plans of his own, she has to prevent the Nine Worlds from descending into Chaos.

Ever since Chocolat, Harris has played with the idea that magic might actually work, and it was only a matter of time before she, like many other adult authors, wrote a book for children. Her enjoyment at being able to go the whole hog is palpable, and her dramatic story rollocks along for 536 pages, with magical transformations, nets of blue fire and a spunky heroine.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining and enjoyable read. 11 Nov 2008
Format:Paperback
I picked this book up while looking for something to read during my nightshift and was immediately hooked.A truly great fantasy story woven into the world of myth and legend of the Norse gods of old with modern,upbeat humour as a side dish.The characters are wonderfully believable and the author's treatment of the gods of the Aesir and Vanir is a tonic bringing them to life showing their failings ,frailty and ,dare I say,humanity much denied them for centuries .A book I would highly recommend( I can't wait for a sequel.)
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and enchanting 10 Nov 2008
Format:Hardcover
I absolutely loved 'Runemarks'. Although it's been marketed as a Young Adult book, I enjoyed reading it as much as my daughter and her friends did, and view it as a crossover book that any age group with a penchant for fantasy and magic will thoroughly enjoy. I found it engrossing from the first wonderful sentence: "Seven o'clock on a Monday morning, five hundred years after the End of the World, and goblins had been at the cellar again."

An outsider who has to discover and grow into her power, runes, magic, Norse gods, goblins, sharp humour, action and adventure, and an abundance of clever twists all combine to make this a high-voltage read that's hard to put down. I've read reviews that say you would need some knowledge of the Norse gods to understand this book, but I don't agree. Their characters are part of the story and it's not important to know their mythical backgrounds - though you may find you want to explore them, and the runes, further after reading 'Runemarks.' There's a list of characters and a brief description of the individual runes at the beginning of the book, which makes it easy to see who's who - the cast of characters made me laugh, because it swiftly becomes clear, before you even start to read the book, that Loki is Trouble with a capital T.

If you're expecting a novel along the lines of 'Chocolat', 'The Lollipop Shoes', 'Gentlemen and Players', 'Sleep, Pale Sister,' or any of Joanne's adult books, you'll find 'Runemarks' to be very, very different but just as well-written. As an author she has always admirably resisted being typecast, and 'Runemarks' reveals how extraordinarily versatile she is as a writer.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Norse god go forth! 17 Dec 2007
By sarah J
Format:Hardcover
This is Joanne Harris's first novel for young adults. Its the story of maddy Smith a fourteen year old girl who lives in the distant future in a world entirely different to ours. Maddie is born with a mysterious rune mark on her hand which in her world is considered a very bad omen.
The novel which is quite long for a childrens novel relates Maddie's adventures as she crosses over into the different worlds. On her journey she encounters many colourful characters including norse gods. No-one is quite who they appear to be and who actually can Maddie really trust! There are lots of twists along the way. Joanne Harris in this book demonstates her ability as a storyteller. Although i did feel that she did not explore the character of Maddy strongly enough that said a very readable story.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved it! 29 May 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm a big fan of Joanne Harris, especially the more magical of her novels (Chocolat and The Lollipop shoes are my favourites) and I'm also a fan of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman so it's no surprise that I loved Runemarks. The tale of Maddy shunned by the ordinary Folk because of her imagination and magical tendancies is reminicent of Tiffany Aching in Pratchett's Wee Free Men books, and the Gods in all their flawed glory made me think of the characters in Gaiman's American Gods. I think it's the funniest of Joanne Harris's books - it had me laughing out loud, but it's also a gripping and well constructed adventure with a huge and satisfying conclusion. What versatile talent Joanne Harris has - hats off to her.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've read 9 Jun 2011
Format:Paperback
I read this book some time ago absolutely loved it. The norse Gods dominate the book with their colourful personalities and I especially loved all the mythology involved. Although the main character, Maddie, does fade into the background with the introduction of the Gods more interesting personalities, overall the book is an amazing experience. I know I thoroughly enjoyed it and I hope, if anyone does buy it, they do too :)
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Haunting tale 30 Oct 2007
By Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
A novel that will continue to stay with the reader long after it's been finished and demonstrates that Joanne's writing is going from strength to strength. I know Joanne more for her adult writing rather than YA and her talent clearly shows throughout the readers time with the novel. Gripping with interesting characters who will keep the reader guessing as to their motives with an additional touch to keep the reader glued to the pages through the use of dry humour many of us associate with Terry Pratchett. Highly enjoyable, addictive and something that may inspire the younger readers to want to know more about Norse myth.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastical! 24 Oct 2007
Format:Hardcover
I thought this book was really great. Yes, it is a bit complex at times - but definitely not too much so. The story is really interwoven, full of suspense, intrigue and that makes it a real page turner. I bought it at the airport - as a frequent traveller I buy most books here and am frequently disappointed. However, even when I put this down (hard as it was) and returned to it a couple of days later, I got right back into the story immediately.

The characters are interesting, different and some really magical. I'm a fan of Joanne Harris anyway, particularly of '5 quarters of the orange' and the 'lollipop shoes', but this (in my humble opinion) is the best so far in terms of substance, storyline and excitement.

I would think it's appealing to such a range of people; men and women, young and old... it's very different.

And, what's more, the ending is left quite 'open', so let's hope there's another to follow..!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Candy for the imagination
A magical writer of magical things. I thoroughly enjoyed reading all of Joanne Harris' books and hope there will be many more.
Published 1 month ago by oceanswim
5.0 out of 5 stars Runemarks-Joanne Harris
Forget Twilight, forget Hunger Games. This book is amazing. I read it nearly a year ago and still can't get it out of my head. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent
This was a really good romp. Well researched and well written. I would recommend it to any Joanne Harris fan.
Published 1 month ago by KPM
5.0 out of 5 stars A new side to Joanne Harris
I am so excited to discover this new aspect of Joanne Harris. The story is rich and fulfilling.Already promised it to a friend.
Published 2 months ago by Caroline L. Lakin
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read.
There has always been a touch of magic in Joanne Harris' books. This one has a lot. And it's great.
Published 2 months ago by Ms. Carolyn Hughes
3.0 out of 5 stars Consentration needed
Enjoyed the tail lost the plot a few times and had to re-read some chapters.
Freedom for imagination to run wild overall enjoyed.
Published 3 months ago by Mrs. C. M. Black
3.0 out of 5 stars Good LIght Read
A good book if you don't want something too taxing. Ideal for a holiday or long journey. Characters are believable and the action is paced fast enough to keep you engaged.
Published 4 months ago by Briony Dennis
5.0 out of 5 stars Really enjoying this book
This book is different to the other Joanne Harris books I have read, but I am thoroughly enjoying it and could recommend it to people who like goblins and other interesting... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Bess
2.0 out of 5 stars Not my type of book
I like Joanne Harris's books but sadly I just couldn't get into this one. Not the writing (JH is as great as ever), just the subject I think.
Published 7 months ago by Caduceus
5.0 out of 5 stars I read it in a day
Joanne Harris writes with her usual creativeness taking on yet another subject and idea and exploring them in an interesting way.
Published 8 months ago by Sally-Ann Meethan
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