Francesca Simon, The Lost Gods

Faber, 2013, ISBN 978-1-84668-565-1

The Lost Gods, though it can be read alone, is the second in the Mortal Gods series which features the Norse Gods in the present day, but in a parallel world in which Christianity has never existed. Freya has met the gods before, in Sleeping Army, when she endured a visit to Hel and back, a visit she would prefer to forget. She is horrified when they turn up on the doorstep of the small London house she shares with her Woden priestess mother, and even more horrified when they take up residence. The frost giants are awakening, and the gods need Freya’s help to stop them turning the world to ice. To regain their former powers the gods need humans to worship them with the fervour and deference of the past. Freya finds them an agent, and in no time they are on television and the front pages of the newspapers. They are stars, and they love it. As the frost giants march ever closer, Freya struggles to get them to take the threat seriously. The fight between the gods and the giants, when it comes, is on epic proportions, the London Eye just one of the landmarks sent hurling through the air.

The Mortal Gods series is very different from the Horrid Henry books, and has a rather older, more confident readership in mind. Simon’s trademark humour is certainly still well to the fore, but it is more sophisticated here. Her Norse gods are opinionated and rude and Freya has a constant battle on her hands to keep them out of trouble. Simon has a lot of satirical fun with their obsession with fame. This will be very popular with Percy Jackson fans and others.