Sorry that I’m going to be double-posting again today: too many posts to fit into the end of the year! The other one’s an Iris Murdoch round-up – although I will have finished another novel by the end of the day, that one’s going to have to wait for its review until January (I hate doing that: I might delay finishing the book so as not to have to!).

This is a book I excitedly bought between Christmas and New Year last year, so it’s fitting I was reading it on 30 December, a year after I bought it. Must do better with my time between purchase and read!! Anyway, my eyes lit on it in Foyles, Birmingham, and with the subject-matter, my all-time favourite Norse myths and the very striking illustration on the cover, I just had to have it. Since then, it’s been occupying two spaces on the TBR, front and back row, as it’s a large and handsome book, and it had to be read carefully propped on my knees in bed or along a sofa. But what a read.

If you have an older child or know an adult who’s perhaps enjoyed the Thor and other Avengers films (yet hasn’t known to shout “That’s wrong!” “Oh, look, Asgarð looks like an inverted Hallgrimskirkja, cool”) they might very well like to read the origin story of all origin stories.

Kevin Crossley-Holland (ill. Jeffrey Alan Love) – “Norse Myths”

(30 December 2017, Foyles)

A beautiful book, lavishly illustrated on every page by Jeffrey Alan Love and re-told by a man who is now an expert in Norse mythology who admits to having gone to Iceland, fallen in love with the place and gone down a new career path (he’s also done the Penguin Book of Norse Myths which has rushed firmly onto my wish list.

The book takes us through all the major tales including these three figures, and the other gods when they interact with them, so a good full picture of the mythology in general. The illustration and description of the Nine Worlds comes on a double-page spread early on and is captivating. The tales are beautifully retold, clear but with the original language clinging around the edges. It’s engaging and exciting, even to those reading the stories for the nth time, with all the tales you’d expect, held within the framework of visits to the gods to gain knowledge by Gylfi, King of Sweden.

The illustrations add a whole new dimension to the book and really make it. They’re reminiscent of the great fairy tale and myth illustrations from the 60s, or those slightly frightening Eastern European animations that were around in the 70s and 80s (these are both good things) with a limited range of colours that’s really effective, and some quite frightening images. Wonderful stuff.

More books in – my final set of the Vintage Classics reissues with the red spines and introductions arrived suddenly today in a lovely big box also from Foyles. Yes, I’ve stacked them as they came, and yes, some of them look a wee bit more substantial than they were in my usual old paperbacks, but here we have “A Word Child”, “The Philosopher’s Pupil”, “Nuns and Soldiers”, “The Sea, The Sea” and “The Book and the Brotherhood”. The others will now creep in in the older edition from elsewhere, with some manufactured peril being produced by “The Sacred and Profane Love Machine”, which I’m due to read in February, not being due to arrive until the verrrrrrrry end of January!

Will any books take you over the New Year or will you manage to bring a nice tidy end to your reading year?