Staff Review: The Gospel of Loki

The Gospel of Loki book cover

The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris

Let’s face it, there is a big literary upsurge in stories about “bad boy” characters. Well, Loki’s been the archetype for that for a thousand years, so it’s about time that he’s getting to tell his side of the story. I just wasn’t expecting a book like this from the author of Chocolat, the book for which she is best known.

The traditional stories alternate between portraying Loki as a victim of fate and a voluntarily vicious practical joker. In this book, he’s both, and makes no apologies for most of the things he does. Well, he does try to justify things, but anyone would, given the way the stories turned out. I mean, some of his friends and family did kind of destroy the world…or will destroy it, depending on your point of view.

Harris really gets inside the character and makes the traditional stories the framework for telling a story about a truly interesting archetype, a genuine manifestation of chaos. The trickster character exists in almost every mythos, from epics to cartoons. Here, though, we see a being truly created to be the incarnation of tricks, and you can just see how Odin foolishly thinks he can be one step ahead of chaos, but that just doesn’t work. Just as the old stories say that you can’t outrun a thought or out-eat a fire, you can’t out-guess chaos itself, even if you’ve put it in a tidy shell.

If you want to read a delightful literary tale about a character you may best know from old stories and new movies, this is a great read.

-Nick S., Central Library