Since her father failed to return from going a-Viking, Alva has lived with her mother, baby brother and her uncle in Kilsgard. She misses him desperately, but her uncle, Magnus, like her father, encourages her to read the runes, be inquisitive and explore the world around her. This causes some friction with her mother who wishes to protect her daughter. When a monk arrives from Lindisfarne, Alva finds herself on the trail of a mystery, leading her to adventure, mystery and danger.
Alva is a wonderful character, determined, clever and brave, who leaps headlong into the mystery, solving clues and seeking evidence. Fenrir, her wolf, is always at her side to support and protect her and offers more evidence about her strong character as she saved him as a cub.
The story is full of historical detail. Details of life in Viking times- home, family, society, beliefs- make this a rich story to support the study of this period or to encourage a child with an interest in this time, but the story is predominantly a mystery- the history all happens quite naturally! It is a very satisfying puzzle to solve and one which will grip readers of all ages. The atmospheric, black and white illustrations throughout, some of which are double spreads, are a real treat, adding to the feel of the story.
This is a must have for school libraries and class shelves- a book which could be used as a read aloud whether the class are learning about the Vikings or not or as a quality text to inspire work. I hope there will be more adventures for Alva soon!
Riddle of the Runes Janina Ramirez, illustrated by David Wyatt
OUP ISBN: 978-0192766335
You can read about Janina’s session at the Hay Festival this year here. I’m sorry the review has taken a while!