Wolf Brother: A gripping story about love, loyalty, and courage

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fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsMichelle Paver The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness: 1. Wolf BrotherWolf Brother by Michelle Paver

Torak and his father have been living alone, away from their clan, for as long as Torak can remember. When a demon-possessed bear attacks them one night, Torak’s father is mortally wounded. Before he dies, he makes Torak promise to seek the Mountain of the World Spirit. On his journey to the mountain, Torak meets a recently orphaned wolf cub who becomes his guide, and then the boy and his wolf are captured by a tribe who wonder if Torak will fulfill their prophecy and save them from the demon-bear. There he meets Renn, a brave and spirited girl who only wants what’s best for her tribe. Meanwhile, the bear still hunts them.

Michelle Paver’s Wolf Brother, the first in a series of children’s novels called The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness, is a serious and gripping story. The writing is lovely and full of beautiful imagery, especially in the sections written from the wolf cub’s perspective. The story is original, suspenseful, and a little bit frightening. It promotes love, loyalty, and courage.

Wolf Brother is a perfect read for children in the targeted age range of 9-12. Torak, Wolf, and Renn are easy to love and the ancient wilderness setting is fascinating and offers lots of opportunities for learning about forest survival techniques.

Teens and adults will probably wish that Torak, Renn, and Wolf had to work a bit harder to fulfill their goals. Until the end, Torak mostly manages to accidentally stumble upon what he needs rather than apply his skills, courage, or wits. This aspect of the story was disappointing, but it was so well written otherwise that I still enjoyed it.

I read Wolf Brother on audio. The narrator is enthusiastic and pleasant to listen to. However, he has a deep, gruff, slightly muddy voice with an English accent that my 9-year-old daughter found difficult to follow. If you’re thinking about the audio version for a child, you might want to have them listen to a sample first.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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  1. I’m feeling deprived that right now there are no children of the right age group on my Christmas list to buy this book!

  2. Yeah, too bad! I think it’s too young for teenagers, unfortunately. Some books have appeal to all generations, but I think this is solidly in the middle grade range.

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