Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Odin's Promise by Sandy Brehl (Review and Giveaway)

Life hadn't changed much for Mari, 11, and her beloved elkhound dog Odin when the Nazis invaded Norway and some German soldiers moved into her village, Ytre Arna.  At least, not until one day in late August when she and Odin ran into two soldiers, nicknamed Scarecrow and The Rat by villagers, while berrying on the side of a mountain.  The soldiers were forcing her Jewish neighbor Mr. Meier, to walk at gunpoint despite his being injured and bleeding.  Feeling threatened by Odin's growling, Scarecrow tells Mari she will get both of them shot if she can't control her dog.

Mari is the youngest of three children and her family has always treated her in a babyish way, but now things are changing and Mari must change with them.  The Nazis have outlawed radios, news sources, even their traditional Norwegian dress; their king has fled to England and the government is being run by a Nazi puppet named Quisling.  It is suddenly a whole different world, but at least Mari has her constant companion Odin.  Only now, Odin has two enemies and they carry guns.

When Mari goes back to school in September, she is told not to trust anyone, one just doesn't know who has sided with the Nazis and who hasn't.  And when older sister Lise comes home from University in Oslo for a visit, she announces that she and her boyfriend will be married sooner than planned.  The reason - life is unsafe for unmarried Norwegian girls around the Nazis.

But the biggest surprise for Mari is discovering who is part of the Resistance, who isn't and which citizens are doing their bit to sabotage the Nazis in Ytre Arna whenever they can.  And it doesn't take long before Mari, like the rest of her family, even her grandmother, finds herself involved in these clandestine activities as well.  But is the price she pays for it just too much?

Odin's Promise is a real coming of age story.  At first, Mari is a shy, quiet girl who frightens easily, but the reader can see how the circumstances she finds herself in enable her to find the courage and strength to grow and to do what needs to be done, even in the face of overwhelming threat on the part of young impulsive Nazi soldiers.

Red Hats worn by Norwegian
From: The Paperclip Campaign
Resistance stories are among my favorite kind of WWII narratives.  While I like the stories of hidden organized armed resisters, I really like to read about the ordinary citizens who loved their country so much that they not only refused to support the occupation, but actively did what they could to make thing more difficult, or even to just annoy their occupiers.  Mari, her friends and school children all over Norway wore red hats every do to show their loyalty, and irate the Germans.  Norwegians are very patriotic,  and were very loyal to King Haakon VII after he escaped the Nazis and that really comes across in Sandy Brehl's debut novel about Mari and her family.

There is lots of Norwegian culture included in Odin's Promise, particularly around the wedding of Mari's sister Lise, where outright defiance of Nazi orders was the real order of the day.  And be sure to read the Author's Note at the end of the novel to learn all about how Sandy came up with some of the ideas for Odin's Promise that give it such a feeling of authenticity.  And remember, there is a glossary included in the back matter that will help with both Norwegian and German words used.  And, just in case Sandy has peaked your curiosity about Norway and the Resistance in WWII, she has provided at very nice bibliography, including other middle grade novels about set in the same time with similar themes.

Odin's Promise is a well written, very well researched novel and will be available on May 17, 2014.  But you can read an excerpt on Sandy's website HERE

Or, if you would like to have your own personalized copy of Odin's Promise, just leave a comment and I will be choosing a winner used Random.org   Please provide a valid email in your comment so I can contact the winner.  You will have until May 6, 2014 to enter the giveaway.

This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This book was sent to me by the author

Odin's Promise is on tour at the following blogs:

April 21 - Erik at The Kid Reviews Books
April 24 - Rochelle Melander at the Write Now! Coach
April 28 - Suzanne Warr at Tales from the Raven
April 29 - Alex Baugh at The Children's War
April 30 - Margo Tanenbaum at The Fourth Musketeer
May 1    - Heidi Grange at Geo Librarian

FYI: Mention is made of the sign used by Norwegians to show solidarity and support for Norway and their exiled King Haakon VII.  The sign consists of the king's monogram and Churchill's V for victory:

This is book 2 of my 2014 European Reading Challenge hosted by Rose City Reader


  1. Just the kind of book middle school students should be reading...much more educational than Diary of a Wimpy Kid!

  2. Very nice post, Alex. Well done and professional.

    THANKS for sharing.

    Stopping by from Carole's Books You Loved June Edition. I am in the list as #46 and 47.

    My book entries are below.

    Silver's Reviews

    My Book Entry

    My Book Entry