Ghost Hunter by Michelle Paver

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Ghost Hunter by Michelle Paver

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Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: A stunning conclusion to this wonderful and slightly supernatural series set six thousand years ago. There's no zeitgeist about them, and these books will have a place on the library shelves for years to come.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: August 2009
Publisher: Orion
ISBN: 1842551752

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About six thousand years ago, Canis lupus familiaris, the dog to you and me, was simply Canis lupus - the wolf. Torak and his friend Wolf are taking the first tentative steps towards domestication and together they make a wonderful team, suffused with love and loyalty and able to take on almost any danger. And they need to, because the forest and its creatures and its clans are under attack from the Soul Eaters and all their lives are threatened.

Torak is dreaming of his dead father. Renn is resisting Saeunn's pressure to become the Raven mage. Wolf and Darkfur are away, raising their cubs. But Eostra, the Eagle Owl mage and most powerful of the Soul Eaters, is about to raise the dead. Grey moths sent by her are bringing a sickness of fear to the clan camps and it's becoming increasingly obvious that the final battle is about to begin. And it will take place on Souls' Night, on the Mountain of Ghosts.

Thus begins Ghost Hunter, the final instalment of Michelle Paver's Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series.

If I could give this series a gold medal, a shiny star and a packet of jelly tots, and Michelle Paver her heart's desire, I would. Not a word disappoints. You're transported into Torak's hunter-gatherer world, a world that existed more than six thousand years ago, and there you stay until the very last page. There's no zeitgeist about it; no fashionable tag, no hooks but the story and the characters and the writing, and they are so much more than enough.

It's ultimately a story of light vanquishing dark - the oldest of stories befitting the oldest of settings. It's not ambiguous or difficult. We don't need to decide whose side we're on - there's never any doubt. We simply revel in the heroism, fall in love with Wolf, and absorb ourselves completely into an utterly credible world until suddenly, it's all over and we look up blinking, wondering what's been happening while we were away somewhere else entirely.

I cried like a baby at the end. These books will have a place on the library shelves for years to come, and I can't recommend them highly enough. They'll be ready to read them at nine or ten and they'll be as happy to read them at fourteen or fifteen - or at forty-four, if they're like me.

My thanks to the nice people at Orion for sending the book.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis may not be about hunter-gatherers, but they have the same timeless quality and ability to transport the reader to their world. Katherine Langrish's Troll trilogy blends history and magic to tremendous effect. They might also like Promise of the Wolves by Dorothy Hearst, which has another take on the domestication of wolves.

Booklists.jpg Ghost Hunter by Michelle Paver is in the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2010.

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