Wolf Brother

Written by Michelle Paver
Review by Elizabeth Hawksley

The Stone Age, Scandinavia. Torak of the Wolf Clan is only twelve when the bear kills his father. With his dying breath, his father orders him to seek out the Mountain of the World Spirit and beg for his help in killing the animal, which is no ordinary bear, but a creature of evil, intent on human destruction.

All Torak has is his skill as a hunter and a wolf puppy companion. How can he possibly survive the approaching northern winter, let alone find the World Spirit? He knows that the demon bear is on his track and will do its upmost to destroy him. Then, too, the forest itself holds many dangers, not least from people of other clans who resent his intrusion into their territory.

The further north Torak and Wolf go towards the Mountain and the nearer the arrival of the winter solstice, the greater the power of both the demon bear and the Spirit of the Mountain. And Torak dare not rely on the Spirit’s agreeing to help them. But first, they must brave treacherous ice which hides deep crevasses, and the ever-present threat of avalanches and ferocious snowstorms.

Wolf Brother, the first of six books in Chronicles of Ancient Darkness, is a terrific read, and I was instantly grabbed by the throat and whooshed along by the power of the writing. What makes it so gripping is the authenticity of the world Paver creates. I absolutely believed in Torak’s knowledge of the behaviour of wild animals, how to track them, butcher and cook them, and make use of the fur, sinew, bone etc. to keep himself alive and functioning. Paver has obviously done her homework thoroughly, and it shows.

Wolf Brother is a very welcome 10th anniversary reprint of a hugely successful award-winning book. Highly recommended.