Joanne Harris is one author whose books I always buy when they come out, so today I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for the new edition of Runemarks, her fantastical tale of magic, adventure and Norse mythology. It’s been re-edited, and comes with a new introduction and a gorgeous cover by Andreas Preis, who also designed The Gospel of Loki.
It’s been five hundred years since the end of the world and society has rebuilt itself anew. The old Norse gods are no longer revered. Their tales have been banned. Magic is outlawed, and a new religion – the Order – has taken its place.
In a remote valley in the north, fourteen-year-old Maddy Smith is shunned for the ruinmark on her hand – a sign associated with the Bad Old Days. But what the villagers don’t know is that Maddy has skills. According to One-Eye, the secretive Outlander who is Maddy’s only real friend, her ruinmark – or runemark, as he calls it – is a sign of Chaos blood, magical powers and gods know what else…
Now, as the Order moves further north, threatening all the Worlds with conquest and Cleansing, Maddy must finally learn the truth to some unanswered questions about herself, her parentage, and her powers.
Want to read some? Great! Because from 21 November to 3 December, book bloggers are posting extracts from Runemarks (details of all participating blogs below). Yesterday was the turn of bookmagpie.uk and today it’s mine. Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin…
No one knew much about Red Horse Hill. Some said it had been shaped during the Elder Age, when the heathens still made sacrifices to the old gods. Others said it was the burial mound of some great Outlander chieftain, seeded throughout with deadly traps, though Maddy favoured the theory that the place was a giant treasure mound, piled to the eaves with goblin gold.
Whatever it was, the Horse was ancient – everyone agreed on that – and although there was no doubt that men had carved it into the flank of the Hill, there was something uncanny about the figure. For a start, the Red Horse never grassed over in spring, nor did the winter snow ever hide its shape. As a result, the Hill was riddled with whispers and tales – tales of the Faërie and of the old gods – and so most people wisely left it alone.
Maddy liked the Hill, of course. But then, Maddy knew it better than most. All her life she had stayed alert to rumours culled from travellers; to pieces of lore; to sayings, kennings, stories, tales. From these tales she had formed a picture – still maddeningly unclear – of a time before the End of the World, when Red Horse Hill was an enchanted place, and when the old gods – the Seer-folk – walked the land in human guise, sowing stories wherever they went.
No one in Malbry spoke of them. Even Crazy Nan would not have dared; the Good Book forbade all tales of the Seer-folk, except for those recorded in the Book of Tribulation. And the people of Malbry prided themselves on their devotion to the Good Book. They no longer decked wells in the name of Mother Frigg, or danced on the May, or left crumbs by their doorsteps for Jack-in-the-Green. The shrines and temples of the Seer-folk had all been torn down years ago. Even their names had been largely forgotten, and no one mentioned them any more.
Almost no one, anyway. The exception was Maddy’s closest friend – known to Mrs Scattergood as that one-eyed scally good- for-nowt, and to others as the Outlander, or just plain One-Eye.
To be continued tomorrow… on anarmchairbythesea.blogspot.com
RUNEMARKS by Joanne M Harris is out now in hardback from Gollancz and is available from Amazon UK, Hive (supporting your local independent bookshop) and Waterstones. Joanne Harris is the author of Chocolat and many other bestselling books. To find out more about Joanne and her books, including Runemarks, you can visit her Author Website, or Follow Joanne on Twitter.
I’ll be reviewing Runemarks here on the blog once the tour ends but in the meantime be sure to follow the rest of the blog tour or catch up on the extracts you’ve missed by checking out these wonderful book blogs: