Mum’s a giantess, Dad’s a trickster god, and her brothers are fated to play major roles in ending the world; trapped in her fetid underworld, Hel (aka Goddess of the Dead) has had enough eternity, thanks, and she’s about to tell you why.
Jotunheim, land of the giants, leaves plenty to be desired. Snow, sleet, and howling winds scour the mountains. It’s no Asgard. A seemingly ordinary girl on top, Hel’s legs are in a permanent state of decay—blotched with gangrene, wrapped in bandages. Her father, Loki, rarely visits the family cave. But then the children are kidnapped and brought to golden Asgard, as Odin hopes to render her ill-fated brothers harmless, at least for now. At first overlooked, narrator Hel develops a huge crush on Baldr, a beautiful, kindly—and married—god, before Odin hurls her to Niflheim to rule over the dead. This permanent teen doesn’t take her fate lying down—at first. Failing to escape, she occupies herself constructing a palace for the dead and dreams of Baldr, fated to die eventually and come to her. But as years pass, she grows bitter and vengeful, and she doesn’t hesitate to tell readers: “I have no friends. I don’t want any friends. I’m fine by myself. I am cradled by hate and fury; I need no one.” Hel’s persuasive, compelling, brutally grim, and very funny voice drives the narrative.
Seen from below, the Twilight of the Gods is neither tragic nor noble—it’s long overdue. (Fantasy. 12-16)