Riddle of the Runes

Riddle of the Runes

By Author / Illustrator

Janina Ramirez, David Wyatt



Age range(s)



Oxford University Press




Paperback / softback




Alva rushes through the trees in the dead of night with her sniffer wolf, Fen. Being out alone when there's a kidnapper on the loose is reckless, but if she ever wants to be an investigator like her Uncle Magnus, she'll need to be first to the crime scene. But what Alva discovers raises more questions than it answers, drawing her into a dangerous search for truth, and for treasure.



From the onset I was captivated by the front cover of this book, with its sassy heroine and her vibrant red hair. The title intrigued me and it didn't let me down, as this historical novel is brimming with authentic details that take its reader on a riddle-solving adventure that brings alive Norse mythology with extremely exciting characters. Alva is a ferocious heroine, head strong and a true shield maiden. With her father gone 'Viking' she is left to her own devices under the watchful eye of her Uncle Magnus and his raven, Hraf. Magnus is a well-travelled Viking, whose adventures in foreign lands enable him to speak many languages, which has earned him the respect of the of Kilsgard. As the story begins, an enthralling mystery unfolds as Uncle Magnus is summoned to the great hall - home of Jarl Erik, whose ancestry can be traced back to the founding fathers and even to the Viking god Odin himself. Thinking she can go unnoticed, Alva's hunger for investigating mysteries leads her to eavesdrop on a conversation taking place in the great hall between her Uncle and the Jarl. With an English speaking monk, a missing English nobleman, a wolf for a companion and runes carved into a small panel of bone; her thrilling adventure takes us through mountains and forests deep in the heart of Viking Scandinavia. I am confident that anyone who loves history and a good detective story will not be able to put this book down. I couldn't. The author transports us to a land of Viking legends which would perfectly support the curriculum coverage in Year 3 or 4 as it is brimming with authentic details about Lindisfarne. It is a brilliant story that brings the Vikings to life, in a way that is fun-loving and ends leaving you eagerly awaiting the sequel. 234 pages / Age 7+ / Reviewed by Hayley Summerfield, teacher.

Suggested Reading Age 7+


Alva is a young Viking girl with a pet wolf, Fenrir, and a mystery to solve. She is an investigator, finding clues and trying to solve crimes, as well as find treasure along the way. This is a truly feisty heroine, with bags of courage and curiosity. In many ways, despite being set hundreds of years ago, Alva is a very modern heroine and role model in this book for children from lower Key Stage 2. The mystery is around a missing man and treasure. What is particularly interesting about this story is the nature of treasure, and what different people consider to be treasure. Packed with historical detail about Viking life and customs and an adventure that rushes along a breakneck speed, this is the sort of book children will want to read in one sitting. For me, the adventure is hugely enhanced by the detailed black and white drawings by David Wyatt. Sprinkled throughout the book, some as double page spreads, they bring the story to life and add to the intensity and mystery of the plot. At a time when there is much discussion about encouraging boys to read, I think this book would grab both boys and girls and it is important to see a girl with such strength as the central figure in the story. My 10-year-old son described the book as 'immensely good', he literally could not put it down. The combination of history and intrigue is a particularly compelling one. Teachers are going to love this book because it will fit so well with any topic on Vikings and will make a fantastic read aloud story. The vividness of the characters made me read it with their voices in my head and I would love to read it aloud myself. It is also pitched at just the right level for lower Key Stage 2 to really get to grips with, as everything is explained, and the language used just right. I can see this one becoming a staple for any Viking topic. 234 pages / Age 7+ / Reviewed by Jacqueline Harris, consultant

Suggested Reading Age 7+


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