What is up my book nerds and boy am I buzzing for this review! It’s Book Seven in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness, Viper’s Daughter by Michelle Paver! I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am about this book. Seriously. I’m going to have to try and control myself because otherwise this is going to turn into a dissertation and I already have one of those to do that I’m currently ignoring (Don’t be like me, kids, do you school work!)
If you know me, or have read a few of my past post, OR have read my recommendations for the Belieavthon 2 Compendium, you’ll know that The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness was my first major book obsession. Like, honestly, it was huge. I had every single book, signed, I went to signings that Michelle Paver was doing at my local store (trusty Waterstones Bluewater, how I miss thee), I even sent my friends along when I couldn’t because I was working. I thought we were done, that the story was wrapped, that Torak, Wolf and Renn would get to live out their lives in the forest and be happy. They could finally rest.
So imagine my surprise and excitement when I saw that there was a new one. Book Seven. I just about lost my mind. I squealed so loud that dogs in neighbouring cities started barking. Car alarms went off. Windows shattered into a million tiny pieces. I preordered my copy pretty much straight away and resigned myself to a wait until April 2nd for it to come out. The gods must have been smiling upon me, because I was then lucky enough to be sent an early copy by the lovely people at Zephyr (thanks, you’re my new BFFs and I love you dearly).
If you haven’t read any before, The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness are set during the Stone Age, and focus on Torak, a teenage boy who finds himself alone and classless, his pack brother Wolf who’s, well, a wolf, and Renn, a girl from the Raven clan with a talent for magecraft . Set against the backdrop of a prehistoric forest, ice wastes, and tundra, the story is of their battle to survive and defeat the Soul Eaters, former clan mages who seek to use their magic to control the forest.
Viper’s Daughter is set after the conclusion of the main series (six books in all) and focuses on a new threat. One of the old evil mages, Seshru the Viper Mage, is somehow causing issues again for Torak, Wolf and Renn, despite her being dead. Very rude, and inconvenient. When Renn takes herself away to the Far North to keep Torak from danger and try to fix this Evil (yeah, it’s a Capital E kind of Evil), Torak and Wolf leave their home to travel North, determined to find Renn, reunite their family, and save the clans once more.
Being back in this world filled me with so much joy, despite it being a dark and slightly sinister world. The writing was, as ever, atmospheric, and descriptive to the point that you can almost taste the woodsmoke in the air, or feel the wind whipping past as Wolf runs across the ice to his pack brother. What made me happiest, though, was being back with Wolf, and hearing his unique descriptions again. The first chapter from Wolf’s point of view was magic, flinging me right back to the first time I read Wolf Brother and hear Torak describes as Tall Tailless, or the fire named the Bright Hot That Bites.
Viper’s Daughter also delves further into Renn’s story and motivations. The whole story is driven by her desire not to be anything like her mother, but is also about overcoming those fears. She hasn’t practiced magecraft in months, as of the start of the book, but as her reasons are explained and unravelled, we see that there is so much to deal with when one of your parents is incredibly evil and power hungry. Renn still stays relatable, however, with her issues never feeling insurmountable or alien to the reader. They feel like normal, everyday problems of self doubt, rather than of huge, world-shifting power. Her relationship with Torak is also never seen as a weakness. She’s still the strong, fiercely independent woman we know from the earlier books, and is more than willing to throw down when she thinks someone is pulling some macho rubbish. We stan.
This is a fantastic return to the series, and brings with it all the tension, drama, adventure, and magic of the original series. I already can’t wait for Book 8 to come out (next year, curses it’s so far away) and I hope that this brings lots more people into Torak, Renn, and Wolf’s world. If you need a series to read whilst we’re in lockdown, this is definitely one that will alleviate the cabin fever!
Viper’s Daughter – Michelle Paver ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️