Book Review: The Story of Kullervo

The Story of Kullervo by J.R.R. Tolkien
4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


Kullervo’s uncle murders his father, and Kullervo vows to find revenge. He grows up wayward and wild and without compassion for anyone except his twin sister. With the help of the magical hound, Musti, Kullervo escapes the murderous machinations of his evil uncle. Kullervo has set his hand against the whole world, and he ruins crops, creates a wasteland in the forest, commits mass murder, and generally reeks destruction wherever he goes. His story is tragic for everyone involved.

This short story, one of Tolkien’s very early attempts at rewriting myths, includes a great deal of poetry, a tragic plot, and the delicious rich language that characterizes all of Tolkien’s works. Most of the book is commentary, essays, and notes about the story, its Finnish roots, and its influence on Tolkien’s later writing.  Continue reading

Book Review: Life Charmer: Koda’s Quest

Life Charmer: Koda's Quest
Life Charmer: Koda’s Quest by Kristal Shaff

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When Koda picks up an ancient Native American arrowhead, he is endowed with the power of the Life Charmer, and is able to control the life force of animals. He can carve a wooden totem or likeness and summon the spirit of a living animal into the wood. But because of these god-like powers, Koda is being hunted by monsters of Native American myth and legend, and he must find allies in unlikely places among the tribes if he is to defeat his enemies and prove himself to the gods. The tribal council of elders sends Koda on a quest to prove his worth, and while Koda is still learning about his abilities, he will need the help of his new friends to stay alive.

This book reminds me strongly of the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. Koda is sarcastic and funny, and he surrounds himself with a variety of delightfully weird characters. The book mixes the modern-day world with ancient myth and magic. And of course, there is nothing quite like a heroic quest against monsters! Continue reading