The Apples of Idunn: Eschaton Cycle, by Matt Larkin (40:00)

IOD score cardToday we see that when your marketing matches your book, it will hook readers who love your book.

What I gleaned about the story: Odin’s father has died, leaving him leader of the tribe. And now everyone wants him to do things that aren’t about getting drunk and taking women to bed.

Find this book on Amazon.

Note: This book is “From the Firehose”, a category Jeff started for books we download from the steady stream of book recommendations that cross our inbox every day because something in the marketing content caught our eye. So, in addition to the normal IOD immersion test, I’ve included a note on what aspect of the book’s marketing drew me in and whether or not the book delivered on that promise.

What Attracted My Attention: I’m a sucker for good riffs on Norse mythology so the title hooked my eye. While I’m not utterly sold on the series “sticker”, the cover looks like dark or epic fantasy and the quality made me think this is a book that’s had effort spent on it. So, when the blurb opened with: Only a fool would venture into the freezing mists that steal the souls of men, the dark-fantasy-reader part of me couldn’t hit the buy button fast enough.

So this looks like a reader-magnet trifecta: title, cover, and blurb all displaying a consistent message and adding more reasons to buy.

Kudo #1: Lack of explanatory digressions

Analysis: When the narrator first speaks of the enemy trapped behind an ancient barrier, they term them jotunn. While this use of a old Nordic word is not unexpected for a book based on Scandinavian myths, they offer no explanation, giving me the impression of someone speaking their native language rather than someone standing beside me giving a voice-over. By telling me the basics—that these were dangerous beings who had been trapped long ago—and then moving on without feeling the need to bury me under further explanations, the author demonstrated confidence that I was an intelligent reader and would work things out for myself.

Kudo #2: Skilled echoing of myth and legend

Analysis: While all stories are arguably based on preceding ones, fiction that adapts well-known stories rather than merely drawing inspiration faces a special challenge: being innovative enough to offer the reader surprises without losing the strong connection to the source that probably drew them to the book. In this case, the author quickly shows that Odin and the Aesir are human tribespeople living in a far past but that gods and supernatural creatures do exist, then has the Aesir behave like mostly honourable but rowdy warriors living to the full because the world is hostile. This set me up to expect that the story would depart from the original sagas but would preserve their themes of heroism and darkness.

Kudo #3: Plausible conflicting viewpoints

Analysis: The point of view shifts between several different characters, whose stories intersect. Each of these has a unique voice and set of past experiences, morals, and desires. This gives the reader several distinct perspectives on the world and allows for misinterpretation and conflict that never feels forced or makes a viewpoint character less sympathetic.

Final Thoughts: As indicated by the clean pass, this book more than lived up to its marketing: the story is dark fantasy in an ancient Scandinavian world; the prose is both clean and well-formatted; and the mists are a true threat to any who venture in. Between hitting the 40 minute mark and finishing this report, I’ve already read more than another hour without losing immersion.

Take the Pepsi Challenge: Want to know if my own writing measures up? Download one of these free short stories, in the format of your choice, and decide for yourself.

The Fire Eye Refugee, by Samuel Gately (34:11)
Fluency, by Jennifer Foehner Wells (6:23)

About the author

Dave Higgins has worked in law and IT for both public and private sector organisations. When not pursuing these hobbies, he writes poetry and speculative fiction.He was born in Wiltshire, England. Raised by a librarian, he started reading shortly after birth and has not stopped since. He currently lives in Bristol with his wife, Nicola, his cats, Jasper and Una, and many shelves of books.