Magnus has been homeless for the past two years–ever since he saw his mother murdered by the wolves with the glowing blue eyes. He has been avoiding the police (because who would believe his story?) and avoiding his Uncle Randolph because those were his mother’s last words to him. But when his Uncle Frederick and cousin Annabeth show up in Boston looking for him and hinting that he might be in danger, Magnus decides to break into Randolph house and look for some answers–or at least some free food. Unfortunately, Randolph catches him in the act and whisks him away to Longfellow Bridge muttering something about Norse gods, his mother’s death, and his life being in danger. At first Magnus thinks that his uncle is crazy, but after he is able to summon a magical sword from the depths of the river and is subsequently killed by a Norse fire god, he is convinced otherwise. Magnus winds up in the Norse afterlife at Hotel Valhalla with a bunch of other heroic dead kids who are waiting for the end of the world. But the end may be closer than everyone thinks, and Magnus finds himself on a whirlwind quest with a Valkyrie, an elf, and a dwarf to face the wolf that had his mother killed and stop the apocalypse.
Enjoyable, but no Percy Jackson. Magnus has plenty of exciting adventures, but his brief time at Hotel Valhalla is not enough to establish meaningful ties with the other residents, who are all underdeveloped. It is no match for Camp Half-Blood with its internal rivalries, friendships, shifting alliances, and everything else that made the demigod summer camp experience so relatable–and an experience the reader could wistfully daydream about having. I enjoyed the book and will definitely read the sequels, but if you want to really get hooked on Rick Riordan (or get another reader hooked on Rick Riordan) definitely start with The Lightning Thief.