My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Viking Boy is the coming of age story of Gunnar, whose peaceful life on his family steading is shattered forever by raiders. As his father dies, protecting his family, and his mother is taken prisoner by the raiders Gunnar swears a blood oath to avenge his family and to take back his life. But unfortunately, as such things are, it is not an easy path but it is a path that will make Gunnar who he was always foretold to be…
This is a lovely middle-grade book which is greatly reminiscent of the estimable Rosemary Sutcliff and Geoffrey Trease. Wickedly illustrated throughout (with a few very powerful double page spreads), it’s a gorgeous modern spin on the historical novel tradition all packaged up with Bradman’s pacey, accessible prose and some substantial myth and magic.
That element of myth and magic was the other great reason I loved this. There’s a mysterious old man in this book who’s missing an eye (and if you know your myth, you may know who I mean). Coupled with him, there’s a whole world of references ranging from the Bifrost, through to Heimdall, through to two birds which keep watch on Gunnar throughout his adventures.
Something else to note about this book is that it might prove a good read for somebody who is a fan of something like the Avengers and Thor films / comics, and would like a confidence building book. They’ll already be familiar with a lot of the terminology and they’ll discover a swift, thrilling read with an excellent protagonist.
(And also, a rather brilliant and brave mother which I applaud being present).