Chronicles of Ancient Darkness, a six-volume series by Michelle Paver (published between 2004 and 2009 in the US by HarperCollins, in England by Orion, for ages 9 to 12).
I love them all, and especially how the characters grow throughout the series, but to keep this post short I'll just talk about the first volume.
Wolf Brother (hardcover published 2004, paperback published 2006)
Source: advanced reading copy from publisher (although I later purchased all of these books)
Synopsis (from the publisher):
The epic journey of boy and wolf begins.
Six thousand years ago. Evil stalks the land. According to legend, only twelve-year-old Torak and his wolf-cub companion can defeat it. Their journey together takes them through deep forests, across giant glaciers, and into dangers they never imagined. Torak and Wolf are terrified of their mission. But if they do not battle to save their world, who will?
Why I loved it: It's different! How many children's books can you think of that take place six thousand years ago in northern Europe? This book is packed with adventure and rich with sensory details. The writing is gorgeous! It's incredibly easy to picture Torak's world because the author shows it to us so well (and she's really done her research). We run through the forests right alongside Torak and Wolf as they search for the demon-possessed bear. This book is so exciting, you won't want to stop reading. It's an interesting mix of fantasy and reality, leaning more toward reality.
The other thing I love about this book (and the whole series) is the ever-deepening relationship between Torak and Wolf, and the way they communicate. Orphaned and clanless, Torak has no one but Wolf for company in the beginning. The book is written in third person, and occasional chapters focus on Wolf. The fact that he believes Torak is a tall tailless wolf is priceless.
The characterizations are wonderful. Besides Torak and Wolf, you'll get to know Fin-Kedinn, the Raven Clan chief who allows Torak to stay with them and who becomes a sort of mentor to Torak. And Renn, a girl who helps Torak. She's a Raven Clan seer who predicts that Torak will fulfill an ancient prophecy. You'll see more of these characters in the other volumes.
Here's a peek at the other books in the series:
Book Two: Spirit Walker
Book Three: Soul Eater
Book Four: Outcast
Book Five: Oath Breaker
Book Six: Ghost Hunter
MMGM is the brainchild of Shannon Whitney Messenger.
Shannon O'Donnell at Book Dreaming
Myrna Foster at The Night Writer
Sherrie Petersen at Write About Now
Natalie Aguirre at Literary Rambles
Brooke Favero at Somewhere in the Middle
Deb Marshall at Just Deb
Ally Beecher at Kid Lit Frenzy
Barbara Watson at Novel and Nouveau
Anita Laydon Miller at her middle grade blog
Michael G-G at Middle Grade Mafioso
Jessica Lei at her blog
Pam Torres at So I'm Fifty
(Sooner or later, two of us are going to feature the same book on the same day. Inevitable, right?)
So what do you think? Have you read Chronicles of Ancient Darkness? Does anything else even begin to compare? What?!? You haven't read it?!? Well, how about a giveaway then? I'll give one copy of the paperback of Wolf Brother to one lucky winner.
1) Be a follower
2) Comment on this blog post
3) +2 points for tweeting OR mentioning in your blog
That's it! This giveaway is open internationally and ends at 11:59 pm EDT on Friday June 24. I'll announce the winner no later than Sunday June 26.