Arthur Quinn is forced to leave Kerry for Dublin when his father gets a job on the new Metro project. The engineers' underground digging seems to be disturbing a threat that the Vikings have hidden deep below the streets of Dublin and Arthur is having some fairly weird dreams. Will Arthur and his friends, Ash and Will, be able to triumph over the World Serpent or will Ragnorok destroy the world as we know it?
Arthur Quinn and the World Serpent is the first of a trilogy to be published by Mercier Press. This is a story about Vikings and yet, Arthur Quinn is definitely a product of modern Ireland. Characters live in houses with flats screen TVs and rely on mobile phones and Facebook as a means of communication. For me, it is this skillful weaving of Norse myth with everyday Irish life that makes it such an enjoyable read and makes for the original and highly memorable battle scenes at the climax.
Early's background is in film and this is evident in this highly visual book. The image of the Jormungand wrapping its enormous tail round the O'Connell Street Spire brings King Kong to the streets of Dublin and children will find the imaginative descriptions and breezy writing style easy and enjoyable to follow.
This book has been dubbed the "Irish Percy Jackson" and it is not difficult to see why. Here are a couple of obvious similarities:
- Arthur Quinn and the World Serpent from The Father of Lies Chronicles
- The Lightning Thief from the Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series
- Both books people contemporary settings with mythological characters who interact with the modern world
- Vikings in Dublin in the Arthur Quinn book
- Olympian gods in America in the Percy Jackson books
- Both have young male heroes who discover a deep connection with a particular mythical figure
- Thor for Arthur
- Poseidon for Percy
There are significant differences too, particularly when it comes to the heroes' character. Arthur is less angsty and impulsive than Percy, making for a more thoughtful and likeable hero. If Alan Early lacks Rick Riordan's razor sharp wit, then there are certainly some very funny moments. I particularly liked the plan that the reanimated Viking army should hide out in the recreated "Viking Experience" village in Smithfield.
With its strongly visual storytelling and tight plotting Arthur Quinn and the World Serpent will certainly appeal to children. Who knows, they might even learn something about Vikings too. Thumbs up for Book 1 in the series.