March 17, 2014
Loki’s Wolves by K.L. Armstrong and M. A. Marr
by K.L. Armstrong and M. A. Marr
(Little Brown Books for Young Readers)
Matt’s known for as long as he can remember that he is a descendent of Thor. In fact, many of the people in Blackwell, South Dakota are descended from either Thor or Loki. Matt’s glad that he’s one of Thor’s own — because it means that he’s someone the town looks up to. He can also harness his anger and call on Thor’s Hammer, an electric-like blow. But there’s a down side as well. Matt’s always worried that his grades aren’t good enough and that if he does even the smallest thing wrong, someone will call him on it and tell his father, the town’s sheriff. If only he could figure out how to deal with the town’s trouble makers, the descendants of Loki.
Fen and Laurie are two of those descendents. Fen is old enough that he has turned into a wolf which means that he has to join the local pack of raiders or pay dues for himself and for Laurie. Laurie has never changed into a wolf, not all of Loki’s descendents can, so she doesn’t know it’s possible. She also doesn’t know what Fen is or that he is paying dues for both of them.
Then an announcement is made at a town festival. The end of the world, Ragnarök, is coming. Descendents of the gods must ban together to fight the monsters. Matt can’t believe it when he is named for Thor. Why didn’t they pick someone older or bigger or just better? Then he overhears enough to know that no one expects him to survive. His family is sending him off to save the world, yes, but also to die.
The first descendent that he finds is the descendent of Loki. Fen and Laurie are together when Matt finds them and Laurie insists on accompanying the boys. Her problem solving skills immediately prove useful and then they realize that she can also locate the other descendents. Still, everything isn’t as it seems and Matt has some tough decisions to make. Who can he trust? His instincts tell him to trust Fen even if Loki betrayed the gods during the last battle. I’ve only touched on the wide cast of characters. Matt assembles a group of seven characters, just enough for cliques to begin to form.
This story is an amazing blend of Norse myth and contemporary fantasy. With both strong male and female characters it is well suited for both boy and girl readers. Although there are some hints of romance, who likes who, this is solidly a middle grade fantasy suitable for readers from 8 to 12 years old.
I have to admit that half the reason I like this book so much is that all of Loki’s descendents aren’t wicked. I’ve always had a soft spot for Loki because I love trickster characters in general (think Iktomi and Coyote). In Loki’s Wolves, many of the descendents get in trouble with the law and are highly impulsive which often gets them into trouble. They are also capable of siding against other Wolves as Laurie and Fen do when they side with Matt when he first encounters the raiders.
Readers of Rick Riordan’s books will be drawn into this series as well.