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Tuesday 21 September 2010

Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver [Review]

Written by: Michelle Paver.
Published by: Orion Children's Books.
Format: Hardback.
Released: 2nd September 2004.
Rating: 5/5.

Official synopsis: "Thousands of years ago the land is one dark forest. Its people are hunter-gatherers. They know every tree and herb and they know how to survive in a time of enchantment and powerful magic. Until an ambitious and malevolent force conjures a demon: a demon so evil that it can be contained only in the body of a ferocious bear that will slay everything it sees, a demon determined to destroy the world. Only one boy can stop it - 12 year old Torak, who has seen his father murdered by the bear. With his dying breath, Torak's father tells his son of the burden that is his. He must lead the bear to the mountain of the World Spirit and beg that spirit's help to overcome it. Torak is an unwilling hero. He is scared and trusts no one. His only companion is a wolf cub only three moons old, whom he seems to understand better than any human. Theirs is a terrifying quest in a world of wolves, tree spirits and Hidden People, a world in which trusting a friend means risking your life. Dazzling entertainment, seamless storytelling - the first title in a six part series set thousands of years ago in a world of myth, menace, natural magic and exhilarating adventure."

I've never reviewed this series properly, despite doing a round up a few months ago. And with just 5 weeks to go until the release of Michelle's latest book, Dark Matter, I decided that I'd post a review of all six books each week with 2 of the reviews going live at the same time.

I first heard about Wolf Brother through Blue Peter. I was an avid watcher back then, and I remember they had this book club segment, and Michelle was on it one week. It was filmed at the UK Wolf Conservation Trust and I just remember being in awe of the sound of the story. When I saw it in Ottakars, a bookshop that no longer exists, I fell in love with the cover. I read the first chapter and was pulled in with such force I begged my mum to buy it for me. She said no and it wasn't until Christmas that I finally got my mits on it. And boy was it worth the wait.

I've tried time and time again to decide which is my favourite of the series, but it's impossible. It's just too hard, as they are all so awesome. But Wolf Brother will always have a special air for me. I can still remember reading it the first time and just being so mesmerised, so captivated. The characters were entertaining and loveable - and in some cases very hateful... - and the story just blew me away. The scale of it, the pace, and yet it's all contained within 200 pages. Michelle has always shown consummate skill. She can fit into one book what it takes some authors a 600 page tome or even an entire series. It was such an inspirational read, as all of Michelle's books are, and only cemented my dreams of being a published author one day.

The Forest is being ravaged by a demon-possessed bear. At the beginning of the book, Torak's Fa is killed by the bear and he is left to fend in the Forest on his own. But in his fathers dying moments, he makes Torak swear on his three souls that he will find the Mountain of the World Spirit and seek it's help to rid the Forest of the bear. On his way, Torak will find his guide - a wolf cub who he aptly names, Wolf - and a host of fantastic characters including the leading lady, Renn, and her uncle, the Raven Clan Leader, Fin-Kedinn.

In the world of the Forest, everyone lives in clans, dedicated to animals. Raven. Boar. Seal. Sea Eagle. Red Deer. Auroch. And Wolf (Torak is part of the Wolf Clan, although he and his father preferred to roam the Forest).

The Forest itself is more of a character than a setting. It is a living, breathing entity that has a personality of it's own.

Michelle's research is evident in all six books, but this but Wolf Brother being the first exposure to Michelle's avid research is rather breath-taking. You can tell that she has researched everything. The fine details in the story, although mentioned rather fleetingly, are interesting and linger in the mind. You cannot help but admire the amount of work that has gone into this book. Not just the writing, but hours and hours of research trips abroad. It's just amazing. Quite literally.

The writing is perfect. So fluid and engaging. A definite page turner. If you haven't yet read this seres, then you are definitely missing out! I beg you to get a copy as soon as you can. Order one off Amazon, get a copy from Waterstones or borrow it from the library. Whatever you do, do not miss this amazing series!


  1. I'm so glad you loved the book and the series! I love it too!:) This series has not received the attention it deserves. Paver really is an excellent author in this series. I especially loved Wolf's POV! Torak was very 3d. And Ren was great too-a fantastic female lead.

    Basically, I loved it.

    I first heard about it from my sister who listened to the first book on audio! It's read by Ian McKellan!:)

  2. I keep seeing this on the shelves and wondering if I should read it. I definitely will now, thanks!