Goodreads: Freya and the Magic Jewel
Series: Thunder Girls #1
Published: May 1, 2018
“Gold and Gullveig I cannot see. But here is a vision that comes to me; Adventure for you is about to start. Near Asgard you must find the heart. A Secret world there hides away, which holds the power to stop doomsday!”
When eleven-year-old Freya hears that prophecy from her magical jewel, she isn’t sure what to make of it. Doomsday? She will find the key? Mere seconds after that prediction, she receives a mysterious invitation to Asgaard Academy from the powerful Odin, who commands her to “bring her magic” to Asgard.
With encouragement from her twin, Frey, Freya reluctantly heads out on their new adventure. And Freya’s first challenge begins before she even steps foot in Asgard. While trying to navigate the treacherous BiFrost Bridge, she drops her magical jewel off the bridge, and a sneaky pair of dwarves take her jewel down to the world of Midgard!
Without that jewel, Freya thinks she is powerless. But with the help of her pod-mates at Asgaard, Freya discovers a world that is bigger and more mysterious that she ever imagined! There, she learns the true terror that Ragnarok—the doomsday her jewel warned her about—could mean for Asgard Academy if she and her new friends, the Thunder Girls, don’t stop it!
As a fan of Holub’s and Williams’s Grimmtastic Girls series, I had to check out their new books based on Norse Mythology: Thunder Girls. The premise is basically the same as Grimmtastic Girls and Goddess Girls (which is based on Greek mythology): young versions of mythological/fictional characters attend school together (here, Asgard Academy) and short adventures ensue, with each book focused on a different main character. A loose overarching plot vaguely ties things together.
Although I was excited about Thunder Girls because I am interested in Norse mythology but actually don’t know that much about it, I think the audience’s lack of familiarity with the subject matter is a downfall here. Holub and Suzanne know this is likely to be unfamiliar territory for a lot of readers, so there’s a lot of background information. They have to explain not only who the main god/goddess/giant/elf/dwarf/human characters are but also the structure of the world, the geography, the general mythology, etc. I definitely feel more informed, but I’m not 100% convinced I read a great story.
And I was even less convinced I’d read a great story when it very suddenly ended. I actually hadn’t realized that there was a main plot point that had been solved because I was expecting to reach the climax of the book when BOOM! I was reading the acknowledgements. (In my defense, it was a ebook, and I had no idea what percentage of the book was supposed to be left.) Suffice to say, this may not be my favorite book by these two authors.
However, I do like the Grimmtastic Girls series, and I have enough faith in the authors that I think this book might just suffer from being the first in the series. These are chapter books, not upper middle grade, so they’re meant for a fairly young audience and need to be kind of short. The authors used up a lot of their space giving out background information in this first book, which is fair considering most of their audience won’t really know anything about Norse mythology (kids this young probably even haven’t seen the Thor movies from Marvel). So I have some optimism here, and I think the rest of the series has the potential to be quite strong. My library has the ebook for book 2, so I may be checking it out soon.