The Gospel of Loki

The Gospel of Loki - Joanne M Harris

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

I was quite keen on reading this one, but now that I'm done, I can't help but feel that something was sorely lacking, and that the portrayal of several of the gods and goddesses wasn't what I wanted to read.

Don't get me wrong: different portrayals aren't bad per se. They allow to shed another light on a character, to see a specific element in another way, to cast a whole other meaning and play with what is the "officially accepted" meaning, and so on. However, even though I'm fare from being a specialist in Norse mythology, I didn't really understand some of the choices made here. For starters, what was wrong with Loki as a Jötunn (I'm not a proponento f Christian interpretations, so having here as a "demon" was definitely weird)? I especially couldn't agree with the portrayal of Sigyn done here. I've always felt there should be more to her than what we know of, but seeing her reduced to a soupy housewife made half-crazed and happy to finally control his husband in the cave didn't sit well with me. Granted, Loki made fun of all the gods and goddesses, only the way it happened with this one didn't seem like an appropriate idea.

The tone of the story was somewhat light and funny in spite of the end of the Worlds it was bound to lead to, and highlighted Loki as a Trickster. The two episodes with Sleipnir and Thor disguised as a bride were particularly fun to read—I can never get tired of the latter, I guess. The gods and goddesses in general weren't shown under their best colours, which here too fits with Loki's point of view (being able to see the defects in people, himself included, and using them to his own advantage).

The "trickster tricked", though, is another peeve I couldn't shake off. Loki has always been a very ambiguous figure for me, not an evil one, so while his portrayal as being rejected because he's a "demon" fits with his growing resentment (wouldn't things have been different he had been accepted as Odin promised he'd be?), the end result looked more like a child being constantly thwarted and then whining about his fate, than a God bent on revenge for having been wronged once too often. This is not the kind of Loki I wanted to read about. He deserves more than that; his being tricked does happen (Útgarða-Loki being a good example), yet it quickly felt as if he always got the end of the shaft without never learning anything, and it doesn't seem believable that a character like this one could be tricked from beginning to end.

I was probably also a bit annoyed by the omniscient view cast over the story, as it is told from Loki's point of view after Ragnarök: I tend to grow quickly tired of structures of the "but the worst was still to come" kind. It didn't help me to stay immersed in the narrative.

Overall it was a strange reading experience: when I was in it, it was alright, but every time I stopped, I had trouble picking the book again. It *is* pretty close to the Edda stories in some ways if you except the demon/Pandaemonium one, and probably this is both a strong and a weak point, as in the end, apart from being narrated by Loki, it doesn't bring that much novelty or development to the already known myths. The Gods remain fairly one-dimensional, and while it was somewhat fun to read, I don't feel like I'll be opening this book again one day.