Thursday, 30 June 2011

Wolf Blood by N.M. Browne

Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format: Paperback
Published: 4th July 2011
Number of Pages: 304
Book: For Review From Bloomsbury*
Genre: Historical, Paranormal, Fantasy, Mythical, Magic, Action, YA, YA-Adult Crossover, YA-Child Crossover
Recommended Age: 12+
Contains: Considerable Violence, Death, Some Swearing
No Alcohol, Drug References
Author's Blog: N.M. Browne

It’s the first century AD and Britain is overrun by invading Romans an warring tribes.
A Celtic warrior girl escapes from the rival tribe which has enslaved her, straight into the path of two Roman foot soldiers.  She expects to be killed, but using her gift of second sight she sees that one of the soldiers has a secret.
Celtic blood runs through his veins too – and he is a shapeshifter... a wolf-man.  Their only chance of survival is to help each other. 
But what will happen when their extraordinary powers are combined?  And who will they choose to fight for?

A slave girl, former warrior and current seeress called Trista escapes from the tribe that captured her during war.  Disguising herself, she flees, knowing that the “shining men” will destroy the settlement before the night is over.  As she runs, she meets two Roman soldiers, one of whom is Morcant, a shapeshifter.  Staying with him could mean her own death, for she knows little about the wolfmen: only that when Morcant changes, the softness leaves his eyes.  But travelling without him is just as dangerous, and perhaps more foolish.  A war is brewing between the Celtic tribes and the Roman legions.  Could the two unlikely companions use their powers to protect their people?  Or, more importantly, can they even protect themselves?
What struck me most about Wolf Blood was the brilliant mythology.  A blend of Celtic and Roman legends made this the most original and intriguing werewolf story I have ever read.  The world was vibrant, real and absolutely superb, full of amazing shadow creatures, Druids, magic and many Gods.  Browne’s writing was also incredible: a perfect blend of descriptions and gripping, short sentences. 
Her characters were also remarkable.  The strong, brave Trista, who I liked instantly, is a seeress, but she is also one of the best warriors I’ve read about.  Her independence was the best part of her: you read so many paranormal books with a weak, helpless lead girl.  A warrior was really quite refreshing.  Well, then again, I liked the vulnerable side of her as well.  She’s been damaged by her time as a slave and the darkness of her visions, saying herself that “the gods bless me with knowledge of their darker intentions”.  Her travelling companion, the shapeshifter, (a Versipellum) was called Morcant.  He’s half-Celtic, half-Roman, who just so happens to share his soul with a wolf.  His personalities vary, depending on whether or not the wolf is awake.  So he goes from being a gentle, almost shy, man to being a warrior with fierce, animalistic instincts, and then to just pure wolf.  This in itself is a completely new take on the myth.  A shadow wolf: a smashing together of two lives, two worlds, two souls.  Just... phenomenal.
 Wolf Blood was split between the two’s POV, another thing I loved.  It gave me an insight into both their worlds, so different yet so entwined.  What was even better – and is even harder for an author to do – was that the voices of the two characters were unique and easily distinguishable.  There was no confusion over whose chapter was whose, even if it wasn’t specified.
Yet another incredible point of this story was the action.  Now, I’m not one for mindless, useless, badly written violence.  But when it’s set out and described as wonderfully as it is in Browne’s book... it is just breathtaking.  There was no needless killing, just pure, brilliant action that made the adrenaline pump through my body.  I could feel the sword, the power, and I knew then that this was a magical story.  The magic was made even more powerful by the creatures inhabiting the world.  Wild Weird, three-headed women... I can barely describe how marvellous all this was.  So... read it, find out for yourself!
I read this in a matter of days, and I really do recommend it to everyone who likes paranormal stories, and even those who don’t.  This is an incredible, new, outstanding take on a genre I love.  I just wish all stories were as magical and wonderfully built as Wolf Blood.  Or, failing that, for there to be a sequel!

Star Rating:
4½ Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
 Warriors of Alvana by N.M. Browne
The Fire of Ares by Michael Ford
Gracling by Kristin Cashore
Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness
Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Challenges It's Taking Part In:

Happy Reading
* This book was received from Bloomsbury in exchange for an honest review


Jenny said...

Wow Megan, that was a heck of a review! This books sound so good, I can't believe this is the first I've heard of it! I love a strong heroine, I can never connect with the whiny girl that clings to a guy she's fallen instantly in love with:) So glad to know the alternating POVs is well done too, I love getting two different perspectives as long as it's easy to tell who you're currently with and it sounds like that's not an issue here. Adding this to the list!

Cliona said...

This is a brilliant review! Although I don't think I'll like this book. It's not really my thing. But glad you enjoyed it!