Odd and the Frost Giants by literary all-star Neil Gaiman was originally published in 2008 and made it onto my ever-growing TBR list round about the time I started blogging – so roughly four years ago. In all that time though, I have never made any effort to actually get my hands on a copy and read it.
That is, until this stunning illustrated edition came along, courtesy of Bloomsbury Australia.
Perhaps it was the “come read me” expression on the giant eyeballs visible through the beautifully tactile cut-out cover, but Odd suddenly jumped straight to the head of my reading queue. Before I get too caught up in the visual treat that this book provides, here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
Odd, a young Viking boy, is left fatherless following a raid and in his icy, ancient world there is no mercy for an unlucky soul with a crushed foot and no one to protect him. Fleeing to the woods, Odd stumbles upon and releases a trapped bear . and then Odd’s destiny begins to change. The eagle, bear and fox Odd encounters are Norse gods, trapped in animal form by the evil frost giants who have conquered Asgard, the city of the gods. Now our hero must reclaim Thor’s hammer, outwit the frost giants and release the gods .
This rich and layered tale of courage is told with humour and in breathtaking style by two creators at the height of their powers: from the author of modern classics such as American Gods, Coraline and The Sleeper and the Spindle, Odd and the Frost Giants will leave you spellbound. Lavishly produced and packed with Chris Riddell’s glorious illustration enhanced with metallic ink, this is a spectacular and magical gift.
I’m not going to lie to you. I probably would never have bothered to hunt this book down and read it had it not been released in this gorgeous illustrated format. I put so many books on my wishlist that unless there is something particularly special about a book (or unless I find it on special – ha ha ha), there are too many new books rushing into my consciousness to bother hunting down one I had a passing interest in a number of years back.
Having said that, there was absolutely no reason for me to be putting off picking this one up because it is a super-quick read, coming in at between 100 and 120 pages, depending on which edition you choose. The narrative style is that of the all-seeing narrator, with Gaiman’s signature quirky wit and there is no filler at all in the plot. From the moment we meet Odd, all words are directed toward the adventure upon which he is about to embark. The story itself isn’t anything earth-shattering, being a re-imagining of some aspects of Norse mythology, but it is fast and different and engaging enough to keep younger readers interested throughout.
The illustrations though, are something else. It seems like Chris Riddell’s work is on every second book cover at the moment – deservedly so, because his style is so distinct – but I did feel a bit as though I was reading The Graveyard Book over again once I opened this one. Odd and Bod are similar in name and looks, and I kept expecting Silas or some gravestones to pop up here or there!
In terms of presentation, this is a high quality offering. I’ve already mentioned the cutout front cover design, which, apart from being delightfully chunky, makes for a great game of peekaboo for those of you who are into Instagram and the like:
I think I look quite regal there…
The text is set out on plenty of white space and the glossy page finish makes the book feel a bit luxurious. Every second page (or thereabouts) is adorned with a full-page illustration, like this:
Every so often we are also treated to a double-page spread illustration like this:
…so in terms of this being an “illustrated edition”, you are certainly getting plenty of bang for your hard-earned buck. The large size of the book means that this is a perfect choice for gifting (for when you want to really impress and show a youngster of your acquaintance that books are cool presents after all), or for family read-alouds, where everyone can crowd around and appreciate the illustrations.
I would highly recommend this edition of Odd and the Frost Giants to readers who like having an experience, rather than just scanning words on a page. The fable-like quality of the story and the calm, stoic nature of Odd are perfectly complimented by the bizarre characters of Bear, Fox and Eagle, who need the help of a human if they are to escape from the pickle in which they find themselves. Apart from all that though, this is a book that you can absorb in just a few short sittings, so if, like me, you have had this one languishing on your TBR list for a while, bag yourself this gorgeous edition and jump right in. You won’t be disappointed!
Thanks again to Bloomsbury Australia for providing us with a copy of the book.
Until next time,