Review: Children by Bjørn Larssen

Welcome to my tour stop for Bjørn Larssen’s Norse fantasy, Children.

I was first drawn to this self-published story for the Norse myth, but soon discovered from its synopsis that it sounded quite uncommon, and that it included unapologetic LGBTQ+ characters.

Needless to say, I was easily sold. I’ve been wanting to read this book ever since I saw it on my TL, and that’s now been made possible by the wonderful organizers of Storytellers on Tour.

They’ve enlisted the help of an amazing group of bloggers, so be sure to click the banner below or the link to check them all out.

Tour banner for Children
Tour banner for Children

Children is the first installment in the The Ten Worlds series, falling under the Norse myth, Fantasy, and Literary Fiction genres. Bjørn described it as a literary Norse fantasy, and I loved that designation for it.

Published on October 3, you can now get the shiny, beautiful hardback or paperback copies on your usual retailers.

If you want to know more about this book, scroll down for my review and visit the other bloggers!

Cover: Children by  Bjørn Larssen
Cover: Children by  Bjørn Larssen

Blurb

    Magni never wanted to be like his father, a murderous, absent, cheating alcoholic: Thor – the feared and beloved God of thunder. When Thor destroys everything and everyone his son knows and loves, Magni vows to stop the violence.

    His dream is to bring peace and prosperity to the Nine Worlds, then settle down with the man he loves. But is it possible to remain good in a place this bad? How do you escape cruelty in a universe built on it, or the shadow of your father when everyone calls you by his name?

    Maya knows she’s a failure and a disappointment to her foster-parents. How could a child raised by Freya and Freyr – Goddess of love and God of sex – have no interest in the greatest of pleasures? Obviously, it couldn’t be the torture they subjected her to, or treating her as a tool that might someday be useful.

    Maya, her rage at their games more powerful than she knows, wants freedom to pursue her own destiny. But how do you forge your own life away from your God-parents when you’re nothing more than human?

    A retelling of the Norse myths unlike any other, Children will answer all the questions you never knew you had about the heathen Nine Worlds… before leading you into the Tenth.
    Content Warnings:Rape, abusive relationships, murder, addiction, violence

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Review

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book via Storytellers on Tour and the author, which has in no way impacted my honest review. This is an ARC review, and some quotes and content may not make it to the final version of the book.

Points of interest:
✧ A faithful reworking of Norse myth
✧ Engaging, complex characters
✧ Heart-aching exploration on the reverberations of abuse and trauma
✧ Literary fiction meets Norse fantasy
✧ Pain, but like, you love the characters
✧ LGBTQ+ rep AND IT’S GOOD
✧ Heartfelt friendship between a man and a woman. I thrived!

If you’re someone who reads with your heart, Bjørn Larssen’s Children is sure to break it in the best possible way.

A sentimental rediscovery of Norse myth told with unique artistry, this literary fantasy welds heartfelt characters, imaginative folklore that’s faithful to the source, and the ravaging authenticities of an unforgiving world, into a cutting blade.

It starts with a pleasant, magical mood and in the next moment basically kicks you in the nuts. With a hammer. 

To sate your curiosity on what my reading experience was like, at the beginning I naively thought “oh, this is so fun”, “oh, that’s sweet!”, and from around page 3 until the end I was just “someone hold my fucking hand, I want to cry”.

Part dark fantasy, all literary fiction, it’s a story centered on the emotions and development of its characters, their relationships, and the desolation of trauma and abuse through the loss of security and certainty.

Magni, son of Thor, and Maya, daughter of Freya, guide us through a world where beauty must be found in the littlest moments. A world much like our own, although it’s solely set in the realms of Jötunheimr, Asgard, and Midgard, far from Earth. 

Their relationship was amazing and it was so refreshing and reinvigorating to read a bond like that between a man and a woman! Despite being a grim adventure, dark and gory, Children still builds a fire for some warmth and humor.

It knows just how to elevate emotions at climactic moments, inviting you to feel along with the characters. Not all, or rather, most of those feelings may not be good, but it’s the way Children carves sorrow into your heart that creates a burrow inside you where this book can dwell.

Readers that require explicit directions when it comes to character movement and scene changes might be dissatisfied in certain moments. In context, those moments seem to link the reader’s mental state to that of the character in question, but I can see how they might be confusing.

Nevertheless, they seemed to me a written translation of the characters’ deeply traumatized mind, a reflection of how trauma changes us. How it can trap us and make us trap ourselves in a moment, or a multitude of them, splitting us apart. Or perhaps it was merely Magni’s way of thinking, which allows the reader a distinct narrative to explore and get to know.

That’s literary fiction at its purest, in that its roots run deep into its characters, nurturing the story’s soul with their own. 

We have these characters whose humanity shines through their vulnerabilities and how those interact with the worlds around them, right next to gods that are unattainably otherworldly but never indestructible. That deep contrast, yet similarities, added an interesting dimension to explore. It reads almost like a modern reworking of classic oral folktales.

A lot of our favorite gods make an appearance or are a constant presence in the book, and for better or worse, I loved how this created a landscape where mythology and “humanity” are forever interlaced. It felt like a mirror of the old Norse mythology I read about, where the gods are ever-present and commingling with us. 

If you’re a die hard Norse mythology fan looking for extraordinary characters, and you can stomach explicit exploration of the convoluted and very real consequences of trauma and abuse, this one’s for you.

Children is available at


About Bjørn

Bjørn Larssen author photo
Bjørn Larssen author photo

http://www.bjornlarssen.com/

Bjørn Larssen is a Norse heathen made in Poland, but mostly located in a Dutch suburb, except for his heart which he lost in Iceland.

Born in 1977, he self-published his first graphic novel at the age of seven in a limited edition of one, following this achievement several decades later with his first book containing multiple sentences and winning awards he didn’t design himself. His writing is described as ‘dark’ and ‘literary’, but he remains incapable of taking anything seriously for more than 60 seconds.

Bjørn has a degree in mathematics and has worked as a graphic designer, a model, a bartender, and a blacksmith (not all at the same time).

His hobbies include sitting by open fires, dressing like an extra from Vikings, installing operating systems, and dreaming about living in a log cabin in the north of Iceland. He owns one (1) husband and is owned by one (1) neighbourhood cat.

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