Page 45 Review by Stephen
Set in the unspoiled wilds on the eastern shores of Stone Age Britain 10,000 years ago, this is a book of beauty that will make your eyes glow and heart sing as a boy called Poika takes his first tentative steps towards becoming a man.
It's an unforgiving life where wounds are deep, infection rife, the winters harsh and tribal territories fiercely enforced; but it's also one rich in folklore, and although the lad's courage far outstrips the experience his elders will need to teach him about hunting, survival and the balance of things his affinity for nature, tenacity and curiosity will undoubtedly prove the making of him.
It's the oral tradition of passing down stories from one generation to the next which lies at the heart of the book. Since knowledge came so often at a terrible cost and survival depended upon it, preserving as much as possible in the form of fables was essential.
All the legends involve suffering and mortality to some degree or another. Personal histories are embroidered upon, giving them a fantastical, mythical status, but dont be deceived: whatever her true origins, Korppi Velho the medicine woman clothed in ravens wings who is of the Kansa tribe but lives apart like a hermit is as capable as her revered reputation, perhaps preternaturally so.
Its an all-ages book, and since Brockbank's film credits range from Harry Potter to Maleficent you'll be unsurprised to learn that the luminous artwork here is a joy, whether it's of the five ebony-eyed sisters with their snow-white swan feathers draped over their silk-smooth, cream-coloured bodies, the expertly choreographed hunt for fresh meat which goes awry or simply the woodland climbs in the heat of the day.
The light plays on the rocks and grass wherever it can penetrate the pines, the shadows are clean and crisp, the wildlife is a wonder, and the boy grows visibly, physically during the course of the book.