Origin of Legends and the Secrets of the North by Adison Runberg

~120 pages

Publishing on March 2, 2018

A beautiful snowy adventure, and a stunning glimpse of the near future in the frozen north.

When their parents died beneath the surface of a frozen lake, brothers Baldr and Thor began new lives as orphans. The loss of their parents gutted them both, but years later, with comfortable homes and good friends, the brothers were thriving.

Their world is upended when they notice green lights flashing like a beacon from a mountaintop that overlooks their sleepy Canadian town. They set out on a thrilling journey with friends Sophia and Nala, to reach the top of the mountain. Along the way, they gain a trusted canine companion, but soon the group is in over its head as they fight the arctic conditions and an ancient power.

I love retellings of Norse mythology. You got a Thor? I’ll take him. Bring me all your Thors. So it’s no surprise that I was excited to pick up this novella. The further I got into it, though, the less I wanted to continue.

First, the cast. The four main characters are basically indistinguishable. None of them had a unique voice or a motivation, and their personalities were limited to a few quick characteristics. Thor eats like a horse. Nala is writing her thesis. That’s about all I’ve got. They didn’t have any flaws or backstories or desires to make me care about them. Sure, the two brothers lost their parents, but that’s only mentioned from time to time in the narrative. The characters themselves don’t seem to be dealing with any grief or loss.

And then there’s the plot. I have a rule – if the central conflict hasn’t appeared by the 30% mark, I’m putting the book down. Sadly, this book was one of the ones I had to put down. Absolutely nothing was at stake for these characters. They were curious about a flashing light on a mountain and went on a trek to find it. There was no tension, no personal stakes in the mystery, no danger – just a casual curiosity, which wasn’t enough to hold my interest.

The near-future world that Runberg sketches is intriguing, but the rest of her novella needs a bit of work. I’d be interested in giving it another try after a thorough rewrite.