ODINSALL: The Stolen Children starts fast and strong. Readers are immediately thrown into the action, following the story of sixteen-year-old British-born protagonist Val. He finds himself kidnapped from the modern world of Earth and brought to the world of Norse mythology, along with other teenagers who have also been kidnapped from their respective towns throughout Europe. The Norse god All-Father has created a school named Odinsall for these modern children, aiming to train them in the ways of Norse culture and combat, and the teachers of this school are none other than Norse gods such as Thor and Loki.
The story is reminiscent of the world of Harry Potter, with so-called “normal” teens suddenly discovering they have some sort of mystical quality about them that makes them good candidates for a magical school. Val, however, is a more morose protagonist than Harry Potter, grumpy and discontent with his life in the modern world. He’s shy and only an average student, flooded with self-doubt once he realizes that many of the students in the school of Odinsall are much better at academics, combat, and sailing than himself. He’s convinced that the leader of his class, Loki, has it out for him somehow, and spends much of his time trying to blend in as possible. However, as the plot progresses, Val grows as a protagonist, realizing that his penchant for trying not to stand out gives him an advantage during a class teaching the students the art of assassination. Val finds himself winning a fight he didn’t expect, musing, “He never won anything. Maybe it was because he was so acreage that he was getting good at blending in, who knew?” Sometimes what a person thinks is their biggest weakness is actually a great asset in life, and this theme threads itself through the plot well.
For an epic young adult fantasy, ODINSALL: The Stolen Children feels a bit short, even though sequels are clearly in the works. As the first in the series, I would have liked to see a lot more worldbuilding and day-to-day life for our protagonist and his friends. The supporting characters feel a little one-dimensional, simply being The Bully, The Smart Girl, The Main Character’s Crush, The Best Friend, and so on, and I really would have liked to see these characters truly develop rich personalities of their own. Perhaps we’ll spend more time with them, their past lives, and their present-day goals and dreams in the sequels. For now, ODINSALL: The Stolen Children is a fair debut novel with the promise of much more to come.
Disclaimer: I received an ARC from Reedsy Discovery for free and read it on my 10th generation Kindle Oasis. I was not paid for this review, and all opinions are my own. This review was originally written for Reedsy Discovery. The original review is here.
Title: ODINSALL: The Stolen Children
Author: Cullen Spurr
Publication Date: 08 April 2022
Print Length: 269 pages
Marie’s Rating: 4 out of 5 stars