Viper’s Daughter by Michelle Paver

Published by Zephyr, an imprint of Head of Zeus, 2020.

Viper’s Daughter is the seventh instalment in the global bestselling Wolf Brother series, an epic adventure set in the Stone Age. I’ve not read any of the previous books but this did not impact on my enjoyment as the book can be read as a stand-alone story.

For two summers, Torak and Renn have been living in the Forest with their faithful pack-brother, Wolf. But their happiness is shattered when Renn realises Torak is in danger – and she’s the threat. Renn leaves for the Far North in secret, hoping to find answers. Such is the strength of Torak’s love that he follows Renn across a frozen wilderness quite literally to the Edge of the World.

The book is slow paced to begin with but mid-way through it really gets going. There are big reveals, and plenty of excitement and edge-of-your seat tension. You really are in for an exhilarating ride!

Michelle Paver packs her story with extraordinary detail, from the landscapes and terrain to the wildlife and the changing seasons. As she describes everything from hunting techniques, weapons and clothing to weapons, food and medicine, Michelle shines a light on Stone Age life and shows us exactly how its people survived. It’s fascinating.

Viper’s Daughter is told as a triple narrative; we see the story from the points of view of Renn, Torak and Wolf. I particularly enjoyed the sections told from the perspective of Wolf, especially the language he uses to describe the world: Bright Beast-that-Bites-Hot for fire, Fast Wet for river and Hot Bright Eye for the sun.

I also want to give a shout out to Shamik, a seemingly unassuming character who really comes into her own. I loved her.

The book’s themes of survival, resilience and friendship are particularly strong. For Renn, Torak and Wolf, loyalty and connection are incredibly important – both to their clan and to their Forest home.

Viper’s Daughter also makes much of ancient beliefs and rituals and the wisdom of the Deep Past. Another important theme is reverence for nature. We see Stone Age people living in harmony with the natural world, not being wasteful, and always being grateful for what they take from nature. There is also a strong supernatural current running throughout the book; demons thrive and ancient magic is all powerful.

The book itself is a thing of beauty from the sprayed edges to the illustrated chapter headers, and includes not one but two maps!

I loved Viper’s Daughter. It transported me to the Stone Age for an atmospheric adventure that was gripping and full of heart.

Rating: 💙💙💙💙💙

Suitable for children aged 8+

Thank you to Head of Zeus for sending me this book to review.

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