A review by Hank Wagner, co-author (with Christopher Golden and Stephen R. Bissette) of the upcoming Prince of Stories: The Many Worlds of Neil Gaiman, due out from St. Martins in October 2008:
Gaiman wrote Odd and the Frost Giants as his personal contribution to World Book Day in the United Kingdom, which exists purely to inspire children to read. It's an annual event where a group of authors write books for nothing and publishers publish them for nothing. These books are then sold for £1 each to children who have been given £1 Book Tokens. On its website, the World Book Day organization (www.worldbookday.com) describes it as "the biggest annual event promoting the enjoyment of books and reading."
Regrettably, at least for US residents, there are no current plans to publish this charming, 14,500 word novelette in America. Happily, the book is available through Amazon.uk and it's only £1, a bargain even with current exchange rates. Be warned, however, the shipping charge will make the final cost seem relatively steep.
The good news is that it's worth the cost: the story, enhanced by several illustrations from frequent Gaiman collaborator Mark Buckingham, is delightful.
As you may have guessed from the title, the novelette deals with characters from Norse myth, a subject Gaiman became entranced with at a very young age. It tells the story of the crippled Viking boy Odd, who, running away from home, is befriended by a group of forest animals--a fox, a bear, and an eagle--who are far more than they seem. In truth, they are the Norse gods Loki, Thor, and Odin, respectively. Hoodwinked by a crafty and vengeful Frost Giant, they have been transformed into animals and exiled from Asgard. Odd offers his help, and travels with the gods from Midgard to their homeland of Asgard, where the plucky lad plans to bargain with the Frost Giant in attempt to save the day.
No more about the story, you'll have to discover its significant pleasures on your own. Be assured though that this is vintage Gaiman, a lively, memorable tale that, although modern in its sensibilities, treats its source material in a respectful, affectionate, and humorous manner, making that material more accessible for modern readers, many of whom are likely encountering these characters and settings for the first time.