Teen fiction is a fickle one. As a teen your too old for real children books, such as Animal Ark or Tracie Beaker, yet some adult books are just out of reach of full comprehension. So how to make a book that is in this middle market? Harry Potter, Twilight, His Dark Materials are all teen/children books and yet all ages can enjoy. Enid Blyton is a children’s author yet her books, if enjoyed as a child can easily be enjoyed as an adult. Roald Dahl wrote for children and adults (though his adult fiction is very adult!) Yet every child is different. I remember in year 9 (so 14/15 age) I had to get my mother’s permission to lend “Horse Whisperer” out of the school library due to the scenes of a sexual nature. So what’s my point I may hear you ask? Well it is this. Just because something is labelled as ‘teen’ or ‘children’ fiction, doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed by a wide range of ages.
I say all of the above as this next series is classed as children’s fiction. I was in my young pre-teens when I first found this book, but I carried on the series until it’s end well into my late teens. The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness written by Michelle Paver are a series of 6 books all follow a young boy of about 12, Torak and his Wolf. We follow these two as they make friends with Renn and try and vanquish the Soul Eaters and the darkness they have inflicted onto the world. It is set before civilisation as we know it, where man followed the rules of forest and sea.
We start this adventure in Wolf Brother when Torak and his father are at their camp. All of a sudden a mighty roar emits from the forest and a huge bear appears, knocking Torack out of the way and heading for his father. The bear rips into his chest and then leaves the clearing. Fa tells Torak to run as the bear is sure to return and he needs Torak to find and kill the bear by going to the spirit mountain and that his guide will find him. Torak only flees as he swears on his three souls to do so. He finds a young cub sat by his drowned pack at a river. Nauseous from fear and infection from hitting his arm against a tree, he tries to survive on his own for the first time.
He finds out he can talk to the cub and understand the cub via wolf talk. No idea why he strikes up a friendship with the young cub and
becomes his pack brother.
On his adventure he runs into the Raven Clan where he meets a young girl, Renn whom joins in his journey.
I struggle to describe how good this series is. For me to have read them all, this first one has to draw you in. It’s slightly like Harry Potter in the fact that Paver has a story arc in each book but an overall story arc across all the books. So little things become important later on and questions and confusion is settled in later books. These little questions keep you interested. The union of Torak and Wolf is fantastic. They remind me of Eragon and Saphira in Paolini’s series although as smart as Wolf is, he can’t express himself as well as Saphira. If Evans had this kind of Wolf bond in “The Loop” I would have given it a higher score.
The chemistry between Torak and Renn is great and their feelings towards one another develops at a good rate. They hate each other when they first meet. Torak can be a little selfish and self involved, yet this is understandable as he has never been in a clan, just him and Fa. He also has to carry a large burden and responsibility which no 12 year old should do.
I grew up with these characters and for me, it is on the same par as Harry Potter. I love them as much and have the same childish glee when I read them as when I first read them.
On its own Wolf Brother is a great start. For me none of these is better or worse then any of the others so this one is a 9/10. Well worth the read and ideal as a bed time story for the little ones that you’d enjoy too!