Title: Soul EaterAuthor: Michelle Paver
Length: 352 pages
Series or Stand-Alone: Book 3 of 6 in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness
Content Appropriate for: Grades 5-8
3 adjectives that describe this book are: dark, riveting, intense
Book 3 of this wonderful and little-known series takes Torak's story ever darker. There is decidedly less adventure-questing and world-exploring than in the first two books. I loved how Paver developed those elements in the previous installments, but Soul Eater focused on really developing the villains of the series and their relationship to our heroes. At first I expected to be disappointed by this shift in direction, but the palpable evil of the Soul Eaters kept me on the edge of my seat.
Still, Paver does a good deal of believable and well-paced world building as the story moves into the Far North where we meet the clans who live on the snow and ice. I love Paver's work, though, because these sequence never drag the story down and they always have a purpose, keeping the action driving steadily forward.
My only hesitation with Soul Eater is just how dark it is. The villains in this book are absolutely terrifying. They kill adults and animals viciously with absolutely no regard for life, only interested in furthering their own power. I loved the first book of the series, Wolf Brother, in part because it is so accessible for kids who are new to fantasy. The second book (Spirit Walker) continued the focus on quests and adventures, while introducing a creepily dark villain. However, this third installment requires the reader to be fully invested. It's just too overwhelming to continue, otherwise.
Needless to say, I can't wait to see how this fever-pitch of evil and adventure evolves in book four, Outcast.
If you haven't read any of the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness books, I highly recommend them!
Other books in this series:
Wolf Brother (book 1)
Spirit Walker (book 2)
Outcast (book 4)
Oath Breaker (book 5)