Runemarks by Joanne Harris.
Alfred A. Knopf/Random House: NY, 2008.

Maddy is the misfit in her family and town. She has a "ruinmark" which immediately causes suspicion and has some abilities she keeps secret due to puritanical views in her world. The ruinmarks are a sign of relationship to the Norse gods which were rooted out by the Order after the battle for control (Ragnorak). Maddy was befriended many years ago by an old, one-eyed traveler (her only friend). One-eye has helped her prepare for upcoming events. He is searching for an item (oracle) which he believes is buried in a local hill. He enlists Maddy's aid in retrieving it, because he knows Loki (his brother and enemy) is guarding it and wouldn't expect a young girl. The subsequent events lead to a new battle between the old gods and the Order.

I have been eyeing the book for a while. I love the title. My oldest son highly recommended it. He especially enjoyed the Norse connections and rune castings. Norse mythology is a fairly new subject for American literature. Some other related books are American Gods by Neil Gaiman (adult), Thor's Wedding (3rd-5th) by Bruce Coville, and The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer.

It took half the book for me to be hooked, but the second half is very good. Maddy's character is strong and interesting, and Loki and One-eye also add interest. The workings of the Order resemble medieval Christianity which is a part of what got me hooked. Plus, there is a twist in the planning behind the forthcoming battle and struggle for ultimate control.
related-Norse mythology, Norse gods, medieval world, magic, runes, Loki, Odin
RL=6th & up

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