Books by Geoff Taylor

OUTCAST by Michelle Paver
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 1, 2008

The fourth episode in this prehistoric epic pitches young spirit-walker Torak into a struggle to keep his multiple "souls" out of the clutches of the power-mad Viper Mage. Unjustly accused of being a Soul Stealer, Torak is cast out of his clan and summoned by the Mage, who inflicts him with a "soul-sickness" that robs him of his superb woodcraft, his intimate awareness of the world and, almost, his ability to tell good from evil. The vividly interwoven natural and spiritual settings that have distinguished this series emerge in long stretches seen from the point-of-view of Wolf, Torak's faithful four-legged companion. Much of the journey and ensuing confrontation, however, seems distant, filtered through Torak's sharply felt inner turmoil. Paver moves her cast along, springs major revelations and brings everything around right in the end, but the plot's most dramatic elements (notably a major flood that is over in half a page) take a back seat to character development. (Fantasy. 11-13) Read full book review >
WOLF BROTHER by Michelle Paver
ADVENTURE
Released: March 1, 2005

Grandiose series title aside, this first of a projected six episodes makes a muddled but strong start, pitting its young stone-age protagonist against a ravening, ensorcelled bear. Having learned of an oblique prophecy that describes him as the only one who can take on the unnatural bear who orphaned him—and is wantonly killing the great forest's denizens—Torak sets out to find three pieces of the Nanuak, or World Soul, that will allow him to enlist the help of the World Spirit. Accompanied by Wolf, an orphaned cub with eldritch knowledge, and Renn, spirited niece of a local clan leader, Torak survives a host of vividly envisioned dangers while displaying outstanding survival skills. Ultimately, he discovers that the bear (probably dispatched in a climactic encounter) had been created by one of a band of evil mages—each of whom will doubtless appear in a subsequent adventure. By the end, readers will have a real feeling for what life in the wild must have been like, and will be looking forward to Torak's further exploits. (Fiction. 11-13)Read full book review >
THE DOOMSPELL by Cliff McNish
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 1, 2001

A monumental battle of good versus evil pits children against an ancient witch outcast from earth. Rachel and her brother Eric are literally pulled amid wind and darkness into this world by the monstrous claws of a black creature. The evil witch, Dragwena, recognizes Rachel's unusual power, begins her tutelage, and attempts to make Rachel her accomplice in revenge for her expulsion from earth centuries ago. All the inhabitants on the planet are in the thrall of Dragwena, yet some have gathered together to be ready for the child-hope prophesied. The evil is the stuff of nightmares; red-eyed wolves, worms that cling, crows with baby heads, and especially Dragwena, who has a snake for a necklace, tattooed green eyes that can meet at the back of her head, and four jaws of teeth that produce spiders instead of spit. McNish creates a surprisingly coherent fantasy world that still has multiple magical transformations on practically every page. Not for the fainthearted: heads are chopped off, spiders are eaten, blood turns yellow, ears are torn, and there is no attempt to soften or keep the battle offstage. The magic here is vivid and the underlying themes sufficiently subtle, yet curiously, it is hard to be truly engaged. The world of Ithrea is splashy and busy like a movie full of special effects that forgets the humanity of its characters. The nonstop action is a big asset for this, but it allows no time to become attached to the characters or empathize with the downtrodden. An opportunity for a sequel is provided at the end—an attractive option for those who care more for pyrotechnics than characters. (Fiction. 10-14) Read full book review >