A semidivine chicken and his Valkyrie friend save Asgard from a nefarious culinary professional in this illustrated middle-grade novel.
The story opens as a disgruntled chef of Asgard accidentally helps Thor imbue his beloved chicken, Hennda, with the power of the gods. The ancient Norse goddess of prophecy foresees (in flawless rhyme) that Thundercluck, the offspring of Hennda and a thunderbolt, will later be the one to save them all from the cook after his descent to the underworld. After a few years spent magicless and safe with two old farmers, Thundercluck reunites with both his powers and his chickhood friend, the doughty Valkyrie Brunhilde, and together the two travel across the Realms to vanquish the evil Under-Cook once and for all. It’s a ridiculous plot, delivered with an impeccably serious tone, where every joke, from evil apple pie to a recipe for Chicken Soup for the Wretched Soul, is delivered deadpan and contrasts with suspensefully high stakes. Carefully worded sentences often integrate both rhythm and clarity, making this an ideal adventure for more reluctant readers. The valiant chicken thinks coherently to himself, but his entire dialogue consists of artfully timed “Ba-bwak?”s and “Ba-GURRRK”s, adding another layer of hilarity to an already comical story. Spot illustrations throughout add to the characterization, imbuing Thundercluck especially with a singular personality and depicting most humans and humanoids with paper-white skin.
An absurd story executed with admirable gravity and skill. (Fantasy. 7-12)