Runemarks by Joanne Harris

Series: Runemarks #1
Publisher: Black Swan 
Amazon: UK | US
Synopsis: Maddy Smith has always been an outsider. In a world ruled by the harsh and puritanical Order, she is shunned for the strange birthmark on her left hand. For this is no ordinary birthmark – it is a runemark, a sign of the old gods.
In fact, Maddy can do things that no-one else can, things that could be called magic. But not until she meets the old traveller One-Eye, an outsider like herself, does she learn what power she really has, and what she will be asked to do with it.
Review: So this book is one I picked up at Christmas, read half of it, and then didn't pick it up again for three months; life unfortunately got in the way, and me not picking it up again was in no way the books fault. I actually thoroughly enjoyed it, it was the norse mythology that drew me in, and the writing that kept me reading. 
The book makes a great start to what sounds like a fantastic book series, though I think it could be read as a standalone book. The plot is fantastic, the book is well paced, and I personally loved Maddy as a protagonist; she remains determined and kind throughout the novel, despite being treated very badly by the majority of her village. 
This book is also going to leave you guessing, you will think you'll have the ending all figured out, and then BAM Harris will throw you a curve ball; it's a book that's going to have you going "wait...WHAT" throughout, and personally I love that in a book. Though I will admit the Norse mythology, if you are not familiar with any of it, does boggle the mind at times. It can make the novel more than a little confusing, but Harris does provide a rune dictionary, maps, and a character list with a little description for each character to help you keep track of everything. This issue with the mythology is why I haven't given it the full five stars; I found myself googling little bits and pieces, just to make sure I was on the right track so that's why this book isn't five stars for me! 
Recommend: Yes, but nervously. I think this book is well worth the read, but if your not a fountain of Norse knowledge you might find it trying at times. 

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