Arthur Quinn and the World Serpent by Alan Early was sent to me by Amazon Vine’s review programme in exchange for my honest opinion. This is the first book in a trilogy that mixes modern day life with Norse mythology.
Arthur is forced to move to Dublin almost overnight. After the death of his mother, his father needs to support Arthur, and when he is offered a top job working on the new underground system for Dublin, he cannot really afford to say no.
Joe, Arthur’s dad is working all the hours god sends at his new job, and Arthur is feeling rather at a loose end, until he meets Ash and her brother Max, who befriend him. Ash also introduces Arthur to their friend Will, and between them they become entangled in a mystery that Arthur must solve.
Arthur has been having terrifying dreams about Vikings and Ragnarok, the end of the world in Viking mythology. Arthur dreams of the trickster god Loki, and his serpent child Jormungand, and wakes terrified and dripping in sweat. His dreams, it becomes increasingly apparent are actually premonitions and warnings about what is about to be unleashed on the modern day streets of Dublin. Can Arthur, Will and Ash stop the end of the world?
This is a fast paced adventure that beautifully balances the stories of Viking mythology against the modern day world, and really brings them to life. The chapters are short and full of action. The writing style reminded me rather of Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider series in its approach to scene setting and narrative drive. The characters are nicely drawn and easy to identify with and the book finishes this adventure but nicely sets up the action for the next book.
I think it would be an excellent way to introduce children to Norse mythology in much the same way that Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books introduce them to Greek and Roman mythology. It would work well for independent readers aged seven to twelve. It is slightly more accessible to boys in terms of characters and action driven plot lines, but Ash is a good, strong character for girls to identify with and she holds her own with the boys. It would be a great book to read in class, either as a whole term reader or in excerpts to back up any topics on the Vikings.