It’s difficult being a teenager and trying to figure out where you fit in the universe. It doesn’t get any easier when you’re the son of Odin, King of Asgard, Guardian of the Nine Realms. Loki: Where Mischief Lies is an origin story for Marvel’s favorite second son, where he must decide if he wants to be a hero or a villain.
Written by Mackenzi Lee (author of The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue), Where Mischief Lies features a genderfluid, pansexual (or bisexual? it’s never explicitly stated but as gender does not seem important I think it’s acceptable to go with “pan”) Loki whose only friend, the sorceress Amora, is banished to Midgard after taking responsibility for something he did. After years of trying to atone for actions no one knows he’s responsible for, Loki is sent to Midgard as well, sent off on some errand of little consequence to 19th century London. There, he meets the members of the SHARP Society, who claim to work for Odin and tell him about the mysterious killer who leaves bodies that don’t seem to be dead and may or may not be using magic.
Perhaps “origin story” is not the correct term for describing Where Mischief Lies. True, this does take place when Loki and Thor are younger, before Thor has been named heir to the throne. But Loki is always Loki, and though in this book he goes through several emotional roller coasters, he is still essentially the same Loki at the end that he was at the beginning. I don’t think it’s that much of a spoiler to say; if you’re at all familiar with Marvel canon, you’re very aware of the type of character Loki is. It’s no different here.
What there is, though, is enough of a struggle to make it worth while. Loki is trying to avert the future that Odin saw, but he feels as though nothing he does makes a difference in how people perceive him. There is much importance given on making the right choices, and that your destiny is not set in stone, but it also seems to lean towards the idea of self-fulfilling prophecies. Everyone else sees me this way, so I might as well be that way. I think that’s very much on par for Loki, but I do appreciate that at this point, he’s not 100% committed to it. He does have a suspicious lack of agency in this book, which bothered me, but it ties into the characterization of Loki as an uncertain teenager.
I don’t think it would be a Mackenzi Lee book without a commentary on the status of the LGBTQ+ community throughout history, and in this book it comes in the form of Theo, one of the members of the SHARP Society. You see, Theo likes boys, which of course was illegal at the time, and he was imprisoned – and crippled – because of it. There are many conversations about this, because Loki cannot fathom why anyone would care, and Theo is hopeful at the idea that somewhere in the universe he would be accepted for who he is. The interactions between Theo and Loki were quite well done, but there were far too few of them. Theo, like most of the side characters, is just not fleshed out enough.
One of the issues that I had with Where Mischief Lies is the pacing. Loki isn’t sent to London until almost halfway through the book, even though it’s mentioned in the summary on the back and seems to be considered the “main” plot. The main mystery itself is interesting enough but fairly predictable, and with about 80 pages left in the story everything spirals quickly out of control. Everything at the beginning, which is set primarily in Asgard, is necessary for explaining both where Loki’s head is at and why he is being sent to Earth in the first place, but I thought the London mystery could have done with some more pages. The book is over 400 pages already, but it doesn’t feel like it; it could have easily been another 100 to give everything a bit more space to breathe.
I enjoyed this book very much. I like Lee’s style and her humor – Loki and Thor’s banter in particular is fantastic – and she does know how to tell a good story. It’s 400 pages and I read it in about two days; not unheard of for me, but definitely unusual. This is the first of a three-book series, but I’m not sure if all three books are about Loki or if they’ll feature other Marvel characters. This ends in such a manner that it could be the lead-in to a sequel or the perfect stopping point.
Loki: Where Mischief Lies by Mackenzi Lee is published by Marvel Press and will be available September 3 wherever books are sold.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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