3.72 (5,784 ratings by Goodreads)
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"The major fantasy debut from bestselling author Joanne Harris, now in paperback. "Seven o'clock on a Monday morning, five hundred years after the end of the world, and goblins have been at the cellar again. Not that anyone would admit it was goblins. In Maddy Smith's world, order rules. Chaos, old gods, faeries, magic--all of these were supposedly vanquished centuries ago. But Maddy knows that a small bit of magic has survived. The "ruinmark" she was born with on her palm proves it--and makes the other villagers fearful and suspicious that she is a witch. But the mysterious traveler One-Eye sees Maddy's mark not as a defect, but a destiny. And Maddy will need every scrap that One-Eye can teach her about runes, cantrips, and glamours--every ounce of magic she can command--if she is to survive that destiny. * "Harris creates a glorious and complex world replete with rune-based magical spells, bickering gods, exciting adventures and difficult moral issues.""--Publishers Weekly, "Starredshow more

Product details

  • 12-17
  • Paperback | 526 pages
  • 129.54 x 200.66 x 30.48mm | 408.23g
  • Random House USA Inc
  • Random House Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0375844457
  • 9780375844454
  • 247,264

About Joanne Harris

Joanne Harris is the author of many bestselling books. including "Chocolat "and "Five Quarters of the Orange. "She lives in England with her husband and daughtershow more

Review quote

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly (circ: 34,456), November 19, 2007: "[Harris] creates a glorious and complex world replete with rune-based magical spells, bickering gods, exciting adventures and difficult moral issues." "From the Hardcover edition."show more

Rating details

5,784 ratings
3.72 out of 5 stars
5 26% (1,520)
4 36% (2,060)
3 26% (1,499)
2 9% (530)
1 3% (175)

Our customer reviews

Marked by a rune on her hand, Maddy Smith has been shunned by the villagers of Malbry for all her life. As a child, she finds a friend in the traveller One-Eye, an Outlander who teaches her to use magic - a dangerous art connected to the old gods and condemned by the Order. Now One-Eye asks fourteen-year-old Maddy a favour: to go into World Below and retrieve a mysterious object. Little does Maddy know that there are others after it too, and so her great adventure begins. The plot is very intricate and to reveal more would be to spoil it. Set five hundred years after the End of the World, the novel draws heavily from Norse mythology (though whether it's a fresh take or a bastardisation of the source material depends on your tastes). In fact, so much of the mythology is appropriated that it can be difficult to follow, hence the included maps and list of characters. I myself found it a bit overwhelming, despite having some familiarity with the tales (translation: the main thing I remember is that Loki once turned into a lady-horse and did it with a man-horse and then gave birth to Sleipnir, the eight-legged horse - but this particular story isn't included in Runemarks). The narrative often seems to progress rather slowly, mired by the history of its setting. It's worth getting through though as the book only gets better the further you read. The world and magic system are interesting and the characters work well as an ensemble, but what you'd really read this book for is the plot. There are many different characters with many different motivations and it was interesting to see how their plot-lines intertwined with one another. Best of all is the adventure. There is always something happening and new places to be explored. The journey to a certain place (near the end of the book) was particularly gripping, taking a darker turn than I had anticipated. Though it's an epic tale that fits in one book, not everything is completely tied up and there is a sequel, Runelight. Though I was distracted by the abundance of semicolons early on, the writing itself is generally smooth and easy to read. I found that I wasn't particularly invested in the (early mentioned) history of the world to begin with, since it was quite dense and since I didn't quite care for anything or anyone yet. On this note, the shortness of the chapters was a real help to me in getting me through the history-heavy parts, making them seem less daunting. Another problem I had was in the frequent shifts in point of view (which itself was occasionally omniscient but mostly read like third person limited) - shifts which sometimes happened between paragraphs. There were two or three times I wasn't sure whose head I was in, and these moments took me out of the story and were jarring enough to leave an impression. This problem also disappeared as I got near the end. Runemarks is a good YA fantasy, especially for those who want something epic in scope but one book in length. It was hard for me to get into at first, but I was glad I kept reading. While the world-building elements can be quite heavy-handed at times, these elements are woven into the story and the book certainly delivers on the adventure front. The way the plot wraps up is also very more
by Alex
Born with a runemark that would have had her slaughtered if she was an animal, Maddy was different from everyone in her village. Her magic didn't help her blend in much, either... well, it did help the people whenever goblins were around. Earlier in her life, Maddy was an acquaintance with a traveler, One-Eye, who became her mentor. He told her all about the runemarks and the Norse Legends that contain the Gods that are currently banned and erased by the leaders of the Ragnarok town. Odin would like Maddy to help him find treasure, where the goblins are, and to find the Norse Gods. Their adventures begin by entering Red Horse Hill. She just doesn't know it yet, but Maddy will soon find herself up against forces of evil and the prospects of a world about to end. All she has to do is summon up the Seven Sleepers, if possible, to help go against the newest evil, the Nameless, who want to erase all the supernatural for good. Born as an outcast, Maddy is ready to conquer what is ahead, ready to show that being different is better than being like everyone else. RUNEMARKS is an exciting read for all ages, building on a world full of magic and imagination. It's a breath of fresh air to have a heroine as the main character who must go against evil to save her town. Although I never knew that there was such thing as Norse mythology, this novel explains most of it, making it fully captivating. A great read for those who enjoy a creative more
by TeensReadToo
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