When the god Baldur the Beautiful vanishes, can two teens rescue him and win their hearts’ desires?
In a country very like a modern America populated by Norse-descended followers of Odin and his pantheon, 17-year-old Soren struggles against his berserker heritage and the disgrace of his father’s having lost control in a shopping mall. At his school, Sanctus Sigurd, he meets seethkona Astrid Glyn, a prophetess who’s sure her world-famous mother’s not dead. The two set off across the United States of Asgard in hopes of finding Baldur, who did not rise from his ashes as he does at the end of each winter, and thereby winning a boon from Odin Alfather. Finding Baldur turns out to be the easiest part of their quest; the duo must find a way to return him to the gods without drawing attention to themselves, as no one knows who orchestrated the god’s disappearance, and the rest of the country wants him back too. Gratton’s series opener is a wordy, languid adventure dotted with slightly twisted retellings of Norse myths. The breathless internal conflicts and easily overcome external conflicts never quite ignite. It’s chock-a-block with cornball plays on American cultural and place names made slightly Norse-y.
When gods other than Baldur finally appear, things get interesting; maybe future installments will begin there. (Fantasy. 12 & up)