Hello (again) humans! Back for part two? This morning I reviewed Joanne Harris’ The Gospel of Loki and now I’m back again to review The Testament of Loki. I’d hesitate to call this a sequel, maybe it’s more of a companion novel? Maybe by the end of this review, I’ll have found the word! The Testament of Loki is certainly different from its predecessor but I thoroughly enjoyed it all the same!
Ragnarok was the End of Worlds.
Asgard fell, centuries ago, and the old gods have been defeated. Some are dead, while others have been consigned to eternal torment in the netherworld – among them, the legendary trickster, Loki. A god who betrayed every side and still lost everything, who has lain forgotten as time passed and the world of humans moved on to new beliefs, new idol and new deities . . .
But now mankind dreams of the Norse Gods once again, the river Dream is but a stone’s throw from their dark prison, and Loki is the first to escape into a new reality.
The first, but not the only one to. Other, darker, things have escaped with him, who seek to destroy everything that he covets. If he is to reclaim what has been lost, Loki will need allies, a plan, and plenty of tricks . . .
Content warning: Eating disorders, self-harm, possession
Those expecting this to have been another Norse mythology retelling will be sorely…not disappointed (because I still think this is an excellent book), but they will have to reframe their expectations. This is a book set in the modern day, some hundreds of years after Ragnarok at the end of The Gospel of Loki. While there is some continuation of characters between the two books the most important one is, of course, Loki himself. In the first book, Loki’s voice was always quite ‘modern’ so the character slides easily into this modern setting.
The character that truly shines, in my opinion, is not actually Loki himself, but the human host he ends up in, nicknamed Jumps. Jumps is a lovely character to read, though she has struggles that some readers may find troubling. I thought that the way Joanne Harris wrote her in such a way that as a reader you could almost sense how amazing she was before the character actually did was impressive and subtle. I could have read an entire book of just Jumps and not worried about all the Norse nonsense going on around her.
Incidentally, this book does open up the can of worms around possession and how someone can consent to activity (not necessarily sexual) when their body is not solely their own. I’ve gone into this in my review of The Wicked Deep and it isn’t quite so extreme in this title but it’s always something I have on my mind in situations such as these. I don’t want to dwell on this here but the thought wouldn’t leave me alone.
Compared to the first book which, while it is a cohesive novel, does have a number of self-contained stories, this is more of a linear narrative. I actually think this plot, or some of the things about it, may have been a little bit overcomplicated, particularly towards the latter end of the novel. There are some rather ephemeral ideas that the reader is expected to grasp and I’m not sure I understood all of them. There is a lot of betrayal and two-facedness on top of multiple realms to think about and it made things just a tiny bit too intense for me at times. That’s mostly a matter of personal preference and the way in which I read things so you may experience this differently.
Overall this is a strong novel, I enjoyed reading the two books in quick succession which I wasn’t expecting given how different they are. I feel as though The Gospel of Loki is kind of a primer for some of the characters in The Testament of Loki. Both books stand alone perfectly well, but to read them together is to truly get a sense of the inner workings of these characters.
My rating: 4/5 stars
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
What say you? What are some of the more disparate ‘sequels’ you have read? Let me know in the comments below!