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Ragnarok: The End of the Gods

Ragnarok: The End of the Gods - A.S. Byatt, Harriet Walter First, Canongate Myths is a series of novellas in which each book focuses on a different ancient myth. Each book in the series so far is written by a different author and each can be read independently of the series.

A young girl tries to escape the brittle world around her by diving into a book about Norse mythology. Her world is full of war-time deprivations and nightly bombings that light up the sky and tumble down her world. A. S. Byatt uses lyrical prose to lead us and this girl through the realms contained in Norse mythology.

Quite simply, this was a beautiful little book. Full of imagery and much-beloved characters, such as Ratatosk. I swear, while listening to this book while driving, I inadvertently missed my turn to work. Really, it was because the book was so very engaging (and not at all because work is a bit dull most of the time). Of course, then it would take me an extra 10 minutes to park and make sure I had everything to go into the office – all while listening to just a few more minutes.

This may be a children’s book, but Byatt doesn’t hold back in straightforwardly depicting the violent and sometimes precocious deities that inhabit this particular pantheon. I also loved the involvement of the mythical beasts and indeed the mythical realm the Norse Gods inhabit. This book will be living on my shelf for the occasional reread, or re-listen.

Narration: The narrator, Harriet Walter, was excellent, providing the hushed moments and bounding excitement as needed.