Soul Eater by Michelle Paver

Rating 9.5/10
Young adults will embrace Soul Eater wholeheartedly... even better than the previous books

Soul Eater is set 6,000 years ago in Northern Europe, after the end of the last ice age, the novels take place along a wooded coastline, inhabited by wandering clans whose cultures revolve around totemic animals or trees: the Raven Clan, the Wolf Clan, the Willow Clan and so on.

The chief character is Torak who has the power spirit walk (inhabit the souls of animals). The narrative cleverly swaps between Torak's perspective and that of his friend, a girl called Renn, and Wolf, Torak's pack brother and constant companion since the first book, Wolf Brother. The three main characters are constantly saving each other from danger and it is in these moments that Michelle Paver is able to add heart-stopping suspense into the story. The chapters showing the story from the wolf's perspective are the most enjoyable - Paver manages to make Wolf behave in a completely wolf-ish manner, in a way similar to Robin Hobbs portrayal of Nighteyes in the Farseer books.

A few paces below him, Wolf was sniffing at a patch where the reindeer had scraped away the snow to get at the lichen. His ears were pricked, his silver fur fluffed up with excitement. If he sensed Torak's unease, he didn't show it. Another sniff, then he raised his muzzle to catch the scent-laden breeze, and his amber gaze grazed Torak's. Smells bad.

From: Soul Eater: Chapter One

Soul Eater begins with pace and speeds up from there, in true epic fantasy style Torak's world is facing great danger and only he can save it. In Wolf Brother it was a demonic bear, in Spirit Walker the danger took the form of the plague, in Soul Eater he must defend his world from a band of turncoat mages (called the Soul-Eaters) bent on world domination.

As The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series progresses we find out more about Torak's ancestry and clues are dropped as to where the series will go after this volume. The climax to the book is excellent and quickly reached as this is a real page-turner. This book has everything, killer polar bears, demons, magic, wonder and danger. The first two books were very good; Soul Eater is excellent. The relationship between the clans and the natural world is beautifully wrought and the narrative is lively and compelling. Paver's research has been painstaking, both in terms of the natural and spiritual world in which the clans exist.

Young adults will embrace Soul Eater wholeheartedly and fans of the Ancient Darkness series will find that Paver has given then a third instalment even better than the previous two.

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