Ragnarok: The End of the Gods by A.S. Byatt
I gave this book 2 of 5 stars on Goodreads
There were a numbers of barriers to enjoyment for me reading this book. I was just glad it was so short, otherwise I would have quit.
First, this is the 15th in the Canongate Myths series (http://www.themyths.co.uk/) and it was only three stories ago that they covered a Norse myth. I love the Myths series, but not spacing these two stories out more was a big oversight, especially since the other story was so much better. I mean light years, so having them close like this made the superiority of the other story just that much more obvious.
Second, there is such a thing as too much description. This books is about 50% or more full of lists. If the author is describing sea creatures, it would be in a list, style sometimes over a page long. Long enough that it would be distracting. Long enough that you would lose your place in the story. I found toward the end I was skipping through the lists just so I could keep a sense of continuity.
Third, the transition from the myth to the story about the thin child was disjointed. Even more, both story lines were further fractured by the lessons about the story origins and the using of different naming conventions (yes, I read the explanation about not sticking with one spelling for things, I just don’t happen to agree). At no point could you just settle in and let your imagination take off.
Finally, there is an essay at the end about why the author chose the story which felt really out of place. It was at turns a lesson on the difference between myth and fairy tales, a personal essay about the authors relationship to the story, and a diatribe about humans forcing themselves into extinction. It was a disjointed essay tacked on to a disjointed story.
Prior to this I have only disliked one other book in the Myths series, so I still think they’re batting average is pretty high! But, if I were just getting into the series, I wouldn’t start here. I might even skip it altogether.