London, Penguin, 2012, 291p
Stuck on a train, this might not be the first book I would have chosen to have with me. But as fate would have it, The Outsiders was the only novel I remembered to pack. Fortunately, it did not disappoint.
Michelle Paver's novel is set in Greece in the Bronze Age. It's pages seep with mythology and legend. Gods watch over the land and the people, superstition and magic are everywhere, and society is structured by ancient rules and traditions.
Hylas and his sister are separated when they are attacked by the Crows - a deadly group of warriors seemingly pent on killing Outsiders, or those who are not part of the villages. Searching for his sister, Hylas finds himself in ever growing danger, always stalked by the Crows. But he is intelligent, brave and patient, better equipped than anyone to survive in the wilderness.
Meanwhile, Pirra is trying to escape her mother and the fate that awaits her when they reach land: marriage. She is stubborn and ruthless, determined to run but unsure where to go. Stranded together on a desolate island, Pirra and Hylas must work together to avoid capture and find their way to safety.
This novel is the first in a new series by Michelle Paver. What I find so frustrating about such a series is that you feel incomplete when you reach the end of the first part - I prefer stories to begin and end within the confines of one book. Of course the cliffhanger is designed to keep you wanting more, but this novel in particular left me feeling like the story was barely started. So much happened, but you know there is so much more to come.
Within this novel, I went on an incredible journey - back to ancient Greece, down to the depth of the ocean, into the darkest caves. The land is a character, beautifully vast and powerfully enticing. For me, I think feeling like I was there with Hylas and Pirra is what made this novel something special.