History is filled with myth and legend, and even books set in modern times can encompass these. In the Witches of Galdorheim series, it is the oft-neglected Scandinavian lore that is foremost.
We are first introduced to the hidden island of Galdorheim in Spellslinger, a short story in which the magic of a young half warlock, half-vampire named Rune is something to be reckoned with. Or rather, it will be. At eleven, he doesn’t quite have it all worked out and while playing outside his arctic community’s protective dome, he runs into real trouble. In the first actual book, Bad Spelling, Rune’s half-sister Kat (Katrina) discovers that the reason her magic doesn’t work too well is because of a spell a Siberian shaman placed over the area where her mundane (non-magical) father is encased in ice, prompting her and Rune to travel to Siberia to find her mundane family and seek help at the Hall of the Mountain King. Book Two, Midnight Oil, takes them on another journey. During it, Kat finds herself on a strange island and her brother and mundane grandfather get captured by a mutant tribe seeking a special oil held by an evil elemental. By Book Three, Scotch Broom, the kids are a bit older, and Kat is setting off on a graduation trip to the outside world. She chooses to go to Stonehenge via Scotland and is followed by Rune. Both wind up in an Otherworld, where an enfeebled goddess attempts to drain them of their power.
I enjoyed both the humour and pacing of these books, and it was quite refreshing to find trolls portrayed as something other than dimwits, mischief makers, or monsters. Kat and Rune are likeable characters, as are the adults they interact with (except for the nasty ones of course).
I was also pleased that once the restrictions on Kat’s magic were removed, she didn’t instantly become a super witch. Her powers were there, but like anyone who has struggled and been made to feel inferior, she wasn’t quite sure of them. Or of herself. And as the characters aged, there was some nice sister-brother friction and other plausible changes as well.
My favourite story was probably Spellslinger, as I really liked getting into the thoughts and feelings of a small boy as he conjured up an imaginary world, but I would recommend all the Witches of Galdorheim books for tweens and teens interested in magic realms within our modern world.
Their author, Marva Dasef, will be guesting with me on Monday to talk about runes, the symbols in the ancient Scandinavian alphabet that were used for both writing and divination.