For the first time in a really long time, I was disappointed in a Neil Gaiman book. Usually, I am that person standing strong against the howling naysayers who cry things like, “This book is the worst book ever written. Neil Gaiman has disappointed me for the last time!” I am a devout Gaimanite, and like to believe I will remain so until the day I die.
As one of my writing heroes, there’s a strong possibility I will adore nearly every word that pours from his pen, but not so much with Norse Mythology. And I don’t the reason had to do with Gaiman himself, so much as it had to do with the fact that in my lifetime I have read so many Norse mythology books and stories, I already knew every single story he decided to retell in this collection. There are plenty of stories that don’t get lumped into those collections, and honestly that is what I hoped for with this book because Neil Gaiman has an incredibly creative mind. Even if there aren’t a ton of details to those lesser known stories, I feel confident he could take them to the next level.
That being said, the writing wasn’t poor. It was about what I’d expect from a Neil Gaiman book, though his own voice didn’t seem to shine through even half as much as I’d hoped it would. I did hope for a bit more dialogue, considering I knew so many of these stories, flesh them out a bit, I don’t know. Give those of us who already love Norse mythology something we haven’t already sunk our teeth into.
I gave the book four stars, which probably doesn’t seem low enough, considering the amount of complaining I’ve done in these four short paragraphs, but like I said, the writing itself wasn’t bad. And though I’ve read them all many, many times over the years, I do still love the stories he retold. I just hoped for something more than I got, which seems to be one of the things a lot of Gaiman naysayers chant these days. Odin’s missing eye, I hope I’m not becoming a Gaiman naysayer!
Four out of five stars. I suppose I’d recommend it to someone who has never read a single Norse mythology book in their life, and then I’d tell that person not to stop with Gaiman, but go deeper and explore the mythology that inspired him to retell these stories in the first place.