Wolf Brother (Chronicles of Ancient Darkness 1) By Michelle Paver
Published by Orion Childrens
5 out 5 stars
format: Audiobook (Read by Ian Mckellan) (Also available in paperback, hardback and ebook -buy yours here)
I’m a paranormal fan, I rarely venture in to fantasy or the world of historical type novels. However not only was one of the main characters a wolf (and we KNOW how I feel about wolves…) but I also noticed the audio book was read by Ian McKellen and so I thought I’d give it a go.
Torak is twelve summers old and lives alone with his father, away from the clans. When they are attacked by a bear, not a normal bear his father tells him, but a Demon bear, Torak has to say goodbye to his father and set out into the world alone. Torak struggles to survive, but keeps going for Fa (father) to make him proud. Along the way he find another orphan, Wolf with whom he forms a strange, unbreakable bond, and together they travel and eventually meet the Raven Clan, where there are friends of Fa’s. Raven clan is home to Renn a feisty, stroppy little madam that is destined to become Torak’s best friend (of course!). Together they journey to face an evil far beyond anything either thought was possible, that will push them further and further apart – they discover that Fa’ had started something a long time ago that it is now up to Torak to end.
Paver’s writing draws you into the story straight away, the pain and fear that torak feels in the opening chapters sets the tone for the books, the reader (or listener in this case) knows torak, has been there at his lowest points and wants to be with him when he gets up and keeps going. Add to the mix the fiesty Renn and you’ve got a great pairing that are true friends. Renn is not your usual female lead, she’s just as vunrable as Torak and often needs him as much as he needs her.
The winning element for me however was wolf, knowing as much as I do about wolves, I was interested to find out how Michelle would write his parts, could she really capture the essence of the wolf? I shouldn’t of worried, Michelle has managed to perfectly capture the essence of a wolf in her words. Dog owners will be able to identify with alot of his character too – he becomes one of the story’s family and you care as much about him as you do about the humans.
Paver doesn’t write for children, there’s no condescending voice or glossing over of death, murder or horror – she writes in a way that includes everyone, readers of any age, and does not shield them from the life Torak lives. This is rare for a children’s author, and is probably what makes the books so good.
A wonderful mix of magic, heroic actions and friendship, I cannot fault the story, the writing or the series (I’ve now read them all) and I’ve even named my daughter after Renn (her middle name) as the story hit such a cord with me. The research, and thought that Paver has put into the story is evident, she has obviously lived and breathed Torak’s world for many moons.
I have also had the opportunity to meet Torak (pictured below!) the wolf at the UKWCT, named in honour of the stories and Michelle’s involvement with the trust and promoting the fact that wolves are not the ‘big bad’ in every story.
If you can, I would highly recommend the audiobooks too – Ian McKellan’s voice adds extra sparkle to the stories, and makes them a perfect escape from every day life!