THE MON­STROUS CHILD

Teenage Hel

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews - Jayne Nel­son

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.

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