This is a great example of just why it's worthwhile reviewing books - to share the ones we've enjoyed ourselves with other people! I'd never have come across this one if it hadn't been for a thumbs-up on it from fellow Authors Electric author and no mean story-teller herself, Susan Price ... and it's terrific, it really is. It's not available as an ebook, but it really should be - but you can still buy it in its paper incarnation.
I was a little wary of it at first when I saw that my copy had 'For everyone who loved The Clan Of The Cave Bear' emblazoned across the front. For starters I think it's an insult to both authors (for a variety of reasons which I won't go into here, but will save for a future blog post) when publishers resort to this sort of thing ... and in my experience, more often than not I end up being disappointed and inclined to steer clear of other books with similar pronouncements.
I was anything but disappointed in this though: yes, like Clan of the Cave Bear it is set in the Ice Age and tells the story of a young girl and her extended family. At that point the similarity ends - and for my money, I think this is a far superior tale. Nothing really momentous happens - Yanan doesn't invent spear throwers, tame wild animals (although there is a fascinating episode involving wolves and a nod to roots of early domestication), or become a brilliant flint knapper, sling-shotter, and general all-round one-woman survival expert. In fact this book points up just how difficult and tenuous survival was, and how absolutely reliant on group co-operation: yet at the same time, narrator Yanan is still a teenager that every modern teenager will be able to identify with despite a time difference of twenty thousand years.
This may sound as though its a bit dull - but it is anything but. This is one of those rare books that without the need to throw huge events and actions onto every other page, keeps you absolutely riveted to it. It's a terrific book, as I said. And yes, if you liked Clan of the Cave Bear you'll probably like this too. And quite possibly, as I did, like it even more ...