The Monstrous Child

Hay Festival: Norse Myths- Tales of Thor, Loki and Odin


There are some people whose knowledge of and passion for a subject make them a true joy to listen to and Kevin Crossley- Holland is one of these people. I have heard him speak many times and each time, I am inspired to read more about the Norse Gods and Goddesses. After listening to him about one of his books, I was lucky enough to go on holiday to Iceland, discovering the Icelandic sagas in all their glory!


At this event, Kevin Crossley-Holland was joined by Francesca Simon, beloved by my son when he was younger for her 'Horrid Henry' stories. When he wrote to her, she wrote back, making her another of my favourite authors for her kindness to him. Francesca is also well-versed in the Norse myths and her novel, 'The Monstrous Child' is a re-working of Norse mythology, tackling very current of obsession and body image through the character of Hel, one of Loki's children.


An hour was not long enough to listen to the fascinating discussion that followed. Kevin reminded the audience that half of the English language owes its roots to Anglo-Saxon and Norse origins and recited some lines in both to give the comparison. “Gravelly, cacophonous, yet at times lyrical- the language gets to you.” Francesca commented on its daily presence in our lives- the days of the week being named after various Norse Gods.


Both read from their books. Kevin has retold the traditional stories in a wonderfully illustrated collection which is on our Quality Fiction long list. With a glossary of terms, a 'who's who?' of characters and a fascinating foreword that sets the stories in context, it is a brilliant collection for anyone interested in these tales. A full review will be posted soon.

Francesca read the opening from 'The Monstrous Child', explaining that she really wanted to write from the giant's point of view, not that of the gods. She explained how she always asks questions when she writes and that was how she developed Hel's story as the miserable, angst ridden teenager. “For myths to keep living, they have to speak to us.” 'The Monstrous Child' is an excellent story- one which I read before we started the website so one that hasn't been reviewed- yet!

Another wonderful Hay session! What will tomorrow bring?


Norse Myths: Tales from Odin, Thor and Loki Kevin Crossley-Holland,

illustrated by Jeffrey Alan Love

Walker     ISBN: 978-1406361841

The Monstrous Child      Francesca Simon

Faber and Faber     ISBN: 978-0571330263