Daughter of Kura

Written by Debra Austin
Review by Heather Domin

Over half a million years ago on the plains of Africa, the ancient ancestors of humans—the species known today as homo erectus—band together in small groups to survive as best they can amid constant danger from predators, injury, and starvation. Each miniature society is run by a Mother, who ensures winter supplies are gathered and oversees mating rituals and domestic disputes. In one of these clans, a young female named Snap comes of age as granddaughter of the current Mother. Her own mother, mourning the loss of her mate, welcomes a stranger into their caves, a man with new and strange ideas that at first seem eccentric but soon prove dangerously divisive. When Snap refuses to abandon the old ways, she is ostracized, left to fend for herself in an environment where solitude equals certain death. Weakened and alone, she must draw on all her courage, determination, and strength to find a way not only to survive but to rescue those she loves from oppression and violence before it’s too late.

The author brings a forgotten time and place to vivid life in her first novel. Her characters are both human and animal, and through her storytelling their lives run parallel to our own—naked hairy creatures who lick each other’s wounds are also men and women who question authority and deal with political and religious turmoil. Some readers may have trouble adjusting to the modern dialogue; keep in mind that the characters communicate via sign language and non-verbal sounds, so the dialogue is a translation of meaning rather than words. Once the reader acclimatizes to this style, the story and characters make the chapters fly by. A unique and exciting adventure. Recommended.