“The Road to Hel” is a modern retelling of the ancient Norse mythological story of the goddess Hel and the events that led to her descent into the underworld. The novel is written by Hilda Roderick Ellis, an American poet and novelist, and was first published in 1945.
The story is set in the mythical land of Asgard, where the gods live in splendor and glory. The central character of the story is the goddess Hel, daughter of the trickster god Loki and the giantess Angrboda. Unlike her beautiful and virtuous siblings, Hel is born with a half-black and half-white face, a symbol of her dual nature, and is consequently shunned by her family and the other gods.
Hel is forced to leave Asgard and take up residence in the land of the dead, which is also known as Helheim. As she grows older, Hel becomes increasingly bitter and resentful of her family’s rejection and the fate that has befallen her. She vows to take revenge on her father, Loki, and her siblings, especially her half-brother Baldur, who is the beloved of all the gods.
In her quest for revenge, Hel devises a plan to kill Baldur by tricking him into eating mistletoe, the one substance that can harm him. Her plan succeeds, and Baldur is killed, causing great grief and anguish among the gods. Hel is eventually captured by Odin, the king of the gods, and imprisoned in the underworld.
The novel explores several themes, including the nature of good and evil, the consequences of rejection and alienation, and the dangers of seeking revenge. One of the central themes of the story is the duality of human nature, as represented by Hel’s half-black and half-white face. Hel is both a victim and a perpetrator, and the novel highlights the dangers of allowing one’s negative emotions to consume them.
Another important theme in the story is the role of fate in human life. Hel’s fate is predetermined by her lineage and her physical appearance, and she is unable to escape her destiny. The novel also examines the power dynamics between the gods and mortals, as well as the role of mythology in shaping human belief systems.
Overall, “The Road to Hel” is a powerful retelling of a classic mythological tale that explores universal themes of human nature and the consequences of our actions. Hel’s journey serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of succumbing to negative emotions and the importance of accepting and embracing our dual natures.