Review: Viper’s Daughter by Michelle Paver

Published on 2nd April
Published by Zephyr (an imprint of Head of Zeus)

Viper’s Daughter is an astoundingly rich, immersive and thrilling adventure that utterly gripped me from start to finish, skilfully drawing me into the Stone Age world with characters I adored, feared and feared for.  This is a stunning masterpiece of powerful, evocative storytelling at its absolute best:  it swept me into the world, enthralled me, emotionally drained me but, ultimately, left me wholly satisfied.

The story opens right in the heart of a terrible discovery:  Torak’s mate, Renn, has deceived him, and has left him and her wolf-pack behind.  Even though he is angry and hurt, he is determined to find her as she is his life, so begins a journey from his Forest home to the Far North and the very Edge of the World in search of Renn and the truth … a journey laden with palpable tension, heart-stopping danger, seeming betrayal and incredible revelations.

Torak is not alone on this journey:  his pack-brother, Wolf is a constant companion.  Wolf and Torak have an incredibly close bond, being able to communicate with each other.  Whilst Torak does not want Wolf to leave his mate and cubs, Wolf cannot bear to be separated from Torak, so he makes the ultimate sacrifice:  leaving his mate and cubs behind for their safety whilst he journeys with Torak, willing to take great risks to defend him, even when he does not fully understand the choices and decisions that Torak makes:  theirs is a powerful instinctive bond, steeped in great love for each other which I found very moving.

Renn is running from Torak as she fears that, if she stays with him, she will be the cause of his death, and this she couldn’t bear.  She is forced to inflict great emotional pain on Torak in order to protect him.  The emotional turmoil she suffers, and the hardship she bears, as she journeys to find answers is heart-breaking. 

Whilst on her journey, she dreams of her mother, the Viper Mage:  is she warning her of danger, or leading her towards it?  Renn is unwittingly drawn into the machinations of a great evil that tears her and Torak apart again and again, and threatens to unleash great harm on the world:  will she realise the awful deception that has been played on her before it is too late?  

The world-building is superb and multi-layered, giving a fascinating insight into the landscape, the belief system and the lifestyle of the Stone Age clans.  There is so much depth to this world that I really felt a part of it whilst I was in the story:  it gave me the opportunity to assimilate the culture and deepen my understanding of this engrossing pre-historical period.  The majesty and harshness of the frozen, untamed landscape was viscerally provoked; the depiction of the lifestyle of the different Clans felt incredibly authentic; and, the invocation of the Clan belief system, with its affinity with animal spirits, captured me wholeheartedly. 

The relationship between Renn and Torak tore at my heartstrings: witnessing their anguish, and what they had to endure was heart-breaking, and honestly brings more tears as I write.  I am in awe of their strength, courage and resilience, and of their unfailing commitment to keep the other safe no matter the cost.

Viper’s Daughter is undoubtedly a triumph:  a compelling, emotive adventure into an ancient, fascinating past which captured me from the opening lines. 

Thank you to Zephyr and ed public relations for a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

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