I actually started listening to Runemarksby Joanne Harris last April in what used to be a short commute to my school. I find audio books to be a relaxing way to clear my mind in between the craziness of mornings with young children and the time crunch to get to school. The audio book does have 14 discs (I love the voice they have reading the book) so I didn’t get it done before the school year ended. I finally finished with the start of my new job (I’m in the car more than I have ever been-I used to have a 10 minute commute from home to the school).
The main character Maddie is a young girl in what could be a village in the future or in the past (yeah fantasy genre!). She is very isolated and unaccepted by everyone, including her own father and sister, due to a mark (runemark) she was born with on her hand. She has some unusual talents (think magical) that keep the other villagers viewing her as suspect. Things never go quite as she had planned and Maddie does not really have any one person to stand up for her.
She finally makes friends with a traveler named One-Eye, who comes through her village once a year. It is through her relationship with One-Eye that Maddie finds an escape from her horrid treatment by the villagers. Dreams and any kind of thinking for yourself are forbidden by the people who rule the community and a conflict rises again between those “marked” or chosen and those who have “The Word” (think Inquisition from history).
Adventure and danger, an epic battle, and well defined characters keep drawing me back in when on occassion I was deterred by the length of the overall book or a few slightly slower passages.
I think this book would be best appreciated by middle student students on up who have the background knowledge about mythology and Norse gods. That background knowledge should really help make this book a new favorite with the YA group.