THE MONSTROUS CHILD
released 5 May 302 pages | Hardback/ ebook Author Francesca Simon Publisher Faber & Faber
Retellings of Norse god myths are two- a- penny these days, but while Odin, Thor and Loki tend to steal all the headlines, nobody seems to care about the lesser gods lurking on the sidelines. And you can’t get more “lurking on the sidelines” than Hel, Queen of, well, Hel, who rules the underworld and all the dead folk within.
Francesca Simon – better known for her Horrid Henry tales – clearly hasn’t had her fill of horrid characters, deciding it’s about time we heard Hel’s side of things. And so while The Monstrous Child may be written for kids, there’s lots of grue and nastiness, with corpses staggering around all over the shop and everybody hating everybody else. Hel’s existence is rather enthralling: imagine being born a monster ( she has rotting legs), meeting your fellow gods in Asgard and falling in love with one of them ( Baldr), then being tossed into the underworld for all of eternity, where you have to brood more than anyone has brooded in all of history. Bummer or what?
If your sprog loves a bit of Norse mythology or is a budding goth at heart – because Hel’s about as goth as they come – they’ll lap this up like goat-mead from a goblet.
Icelandic volcano Hekla was thought to be an entrance to Hel. In 1750 it was climbed and the theory disproved.