Marshmallow is clearly a Rick Riordan fan. Most recently she reviewed for the book bunnies blog the three books that make up the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series: The Sword of Summer, The Hammer of Thor, and The Ship of the Dead. Today she writes about a companion book to the trilogy: Hotel Valhalla: Guide to the Norse Worlds.
Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about Norse mythology or enjoyed reading the Magnus Chase books by Rick Riordan, then this might be the book for you.
Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): In Hotel Valhalla: Guide to the Norse Worlds, characters from the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series, including several of the most prominent gods and goddesses, introduce readers to the nine worlds of Norse mythology and tell stories. All throughout, we learn new facts about Norse mythology in creative ways: there are advice columns, interviews, rap battles, and more.
The book starts off with an introduction to Hotel Valhalla, the place where einherjar (the chosen warriors of Odin) wait to fight in Ragnarok. The managers of the hotel introduce the Norse worlds (there’s nine!) to the readers, assumed to be incoming einherjar:
Dear Valued Guests,
On behalf of the staff, welcome to Hotel Valhalla. We recognize that there were other options for your afterlife. We thank you for the selfless sacrifice that landed you here among Odin’s chosen warriors instead of elsewhere.Helgi, Manager of Hotel Valhalla since 749 C.E.
Some of the gods and goddesses we met in the Magnus Chase series tell us stories and cool facts about themselves and other things that make up Norse mythology. For example, there is an interview with Odin, the all-father. We met Odin before, in The Sword of Summer, and he was a little annoying, always trying to give PowerPoint presentations and sell his courses. The same character is in full display in the interview, but we also learn about some of his backstory. Then there is an advice column featuring Frigg, the wife of Odin, who while dispensing advice retells some old stories involving her and her family.
This book is divided into different sections. There is a section on gods and goddesses, one on mythical beings, and another on fantastic creatures. Also, at the end of the book, there is a glossary which tells you how to pronounce the words and names in Norse mythology.
Marshmallow’s Review: I think that this is a great complementary book to the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series. It helps explain some things that were mentioned in the series and adds context. Hotel Valhalla continues the tradition of companion books, similar to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, The Unofficial Ultimate Harry Potter Spellbook, and The Demigod Diaries, as well as Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods and Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes. Just like how the first two complemented the Harry Potter universe, and the latter three complemented the world of Percy Jackson, I like how Hotel Valhalla complements the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series.
One thing that I really liked was that the author, Rick Riordan, managed to find many different, unique ways to tell the stories in the book. There are many different formats. Some are interviews and others are just written in the first person from the perspective of some of the gods and goddesses. I particularly found the advice column one funny, as it reminded me of a book I recently read and reviewed: Dear Student by Elly Swartz.
Unfortunately, there are not too many images in Hotel Valhalla. There are just a few sketches to help us visualize some of the gods and goddesses, but all are black and white, and there is no color, unlike the full-color images in The Demigod Diaries. They are still pretty neat images though.
I think that Hotel Valhalla: Guide to the Norse Worlds is a great book to read before or after reading the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series. Reading it before might give you a platform, sufficient background to use. It is also perfectly enjoyable afterwards, when you want to revisit the world of Magnus Chase. You also learn a lot of new stories from Norse mythology.
Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.