The Runaway

368p. (Valkyrie: Bk. 2). S. & S./Aladdin. Jan. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481447409.
Gr 5–8—In this second installment of the series, Freya and Archie have been put on probation by Odin for traveling to Midgard (Earth) without permission. Their punishment includes cleaning the Reaping Mares' stalls each morning, and Freya is allowed only marginal participation in Asgard's 12-day Nine Realms Challenge, in which the kingdom's finest athletes compete. Observant Odin, sensing that war is about to break out in the realm, sends Freya and Archie to Midgard to find Brunnhilde—a legendary Valkyrie whom he severely punished and banished to Earth long ago—and bring her home to Asgard. But Freya discovers that "Brundi" has a family; some deep, dark secrets; and a large parcel of land that must be protected from poachers. Again, O'Hearn blends Norse mythology and contemporary American life, albeit sometimes awkwardly. She addresses xenophobia, cultural diversity, and interracial marriage. As in the first volume, some Norse mythology has been embellished or invented (her addition of Dark Searchers, for example) and some major plot issues are tied up too neatly.
VERDICT The clash of two very different and strong cultures and a busy, fast-moving plot will attract devotees of mythological fiction despite the book's minor flaws.

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