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Runemarks Hardcover – 2 Aug 2007


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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: 15.6 x 4.3 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 50,209 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joanne Harris is an Anglo-French author, whose books include fourteen novels, two cookbooks and many short stories. Her work is extremely diverse, covering aspects of magic realism, suspense, historical fiction, mythology and fantasy. She has also written a DR WHO novella for the BBC, has scripted guest episodes for the game ZOMBIES, RUN!, and is currently engaged in a number of musical theatre projects as well as developing an original drama for television.
In 2000, her 1999 novel CHOCOLAT was adapted to the screen, starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. She is an honorary Fellow of St Catharine's College, Cambridge, and in 2013 was awarded an MBE by the Queen.
Her hobbies are listed in Who's Who as 'mooching, lounging, strutting, strumming, priest-baiting and quiet subversion'. She also spends too much time on Twitter; plays flute and bass guitar in a band first formed when she was 16; and works from a shed in her garden at her home in Yorkshire.


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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

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Timoshenko on 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 By L. J. Tenzin-dolma on 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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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By sarah J on 17 Dec 2007
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 By Mrs. S. R. Wray on 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Miss Leola on 24 Jun 2009
Format: Paperback
I thought that Runemarks was a great novel, and if anything I found it an intellectual and challenging read. I didn't know much about Norse mythology but I still thoroughly enjoyed the story and its characters and I was able to understand and follow the plot with a certain amount persistence, but at the end I got completely lost.

At times Harris seems to get carried away showing her knowledge of Norse mythology and I think she forgets that a lot of readers do not know much if anything. At the end at least, I found that she forgets to describe or explain why certain things happened and it is this point that made me give Runemarks a 4/5 (I still don't really understand the ending.) Please note: this is not an easy read. Runemarks is more suited to older teens and even adults because of the length, language and the ideas portrayed through the novel. Some of the concepts of Norse mythology are quite hard to get your head around and Harris writes with an air of sophistication that some younger or less able readers may struggle with.

Finally, I didn't really feel that Maddy was a strong enough heroine. Towards the end especially, she seemed to blend in as just another character. I think she could have been developed more to create a deeper and more realistic leading lady. But I did love this book. For all of its flaws, it is still a magical and inspiring novel (and I like a good challenge.) One day I'll read it again, and then maybe I'll grasp the ending.
Do give it try.
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