book reviews

2 More Prehistoric Fiction I Loved

In preparation for the launch of my latest prehistoric fiction novel, Survival of the Fittest (Book 1 in the Crossroads trilogy), here are two more great prehistoric fiction novels you won’t want to miss:

  1. The Wolf and the Whale — surviving the North American arctic was difficult 1000 years ago, and even more difficult if the gods were against you
  2. Song of the River — An Alaskan tribe about 6500 years ago tries to survive despite harsh weather, inter-tribal warfare, and politics

A note about my reviews: I only review books I enjoyed. I need to be inspired to write. That’s why so many of my reviews are 4/5 or 5/5

wolf in the whaleThe Wolf in the Whale

by Jordanna Max Brodsky


Jordanna Max Brodsky’s The Wolf and the Whale (Redhook 2019) is a saga of life before man was the unequivocal alpha on the planet, when Nature still thought she could defeat us. This is a time when man protected barely survived the coldest weather, when food was a treat to be relished when available, when only the tough had any expectation of surviving. If you weren’t tough, you weren’t valued.

Omat is that person. She suffers mightily from hunger, bad luck, and deaths of the hunters within her Inuit tribe. Her life has been difficult from an inauspicious beginning when she was left to die in the snow, saved only by the kindness of a great white wolf. Her tribe struggles to survive in the arctic cold of North America, only to be kidnapped, raped, and enslaved by invaders who are later destroyed by the arrival of the Vikings. She is a seer, able to talk to the gods, until they reject her, leaving her wondering at her purpose. Many times, she wants to give up but something within won’t allow it. And so she continues.

From Amazon:

The Wolf in the Whale is a powerful tale of magic, discovery and adventure, featuring an unforgettable narrator ready to confront the gods themselves.”

The characters are strong and well-developed, mostly likable. The setting is so cold, I am there, my hands freezing to hard white knobs, my stomach long past growling from hunger when the caribou can’t be found. The plot itself is intricate and well-developed, taking me well-beyond a story of survival or the history of the earliest North Americans.

“…watching the story fly before me like a cast harpoon. I moved to follow it, my”

Where did it lose a point? There were places it dragged, where I wanted to move ahead but we were stuck in backstory and detail. For some, that could work fine.

–received for free from NetGalley in return for an honest review

prehistoric fictionSong of the River

by Sue Harrison


Sue Harrison’s Song of the River (Open Road Media 2013), Book 1 of the Storyteller Trilogy, takes place around present day Iliamna Lake in Alaska, about 6500 years ago. Two tribes who have historically been friendly find themselves on the verge of war. Chakliux, born with webbed feet, abandoned as a child but now honored as the tribe’s storyteller, is believed to have special abilities so takes it upon himself to travel from his home village to the neighboring one with the goal of stopping the fighting before people are killed. But, while there, several people are stabbed to death, an unusual occurrence and for people who worry about taboos and symbols, enough to make them suspicious that Chakliux brings bad luck. But It’s a lot more complicated. Behind the scenes, Chakliux’s adopted mother K’os is pursuing her own goals and she doesn’t care who is hurt in the process.

Harrison writes with the depth of knowledge found in other incomparable prehistoric fiction writers like Kathleen Gear and Linda Lay Shuler:

“The lodge poles were crowded with the skins of sacred animals—white least weasels, flickers, marmot and beaver, and many wolverines.”
“It was sea otter, she was sure, with a ruff of wolverine fur and cuffs banded with caribou hide, scraped and softened until it was almost white. The back of the parka came down in a wide pointed tail of some strange spotted skin, a stiff-haired pelt unlike any K’os had ever seen.”

Quickly,  I felt that I knew these people, understood their customs and desires. The plot though interesting was almost inconsequential when weighed against the opportunity to explore life long since gone in a frozen world that seems uninhabitable. It is no surprise Kirkus Reviews said this:

“Harrison once again displays her first-rate storytelling talents, here in a rousing tale of murder, revenge, and internecine warfare.” –Kirkus Reviews

This is Harrison’s second prehistoric fiction trilogy. The first–The Ivory Carver Trilogy–was critically-acclaimed for its drama, reality, and atmosphere.  Mother Earth Father Sky from the trilogy became a national and international bestseller, and was selected by the American Library Association as one of the Best Books for Young Adults in 1991, In the small world of prehistoric fiction authors (here’s a short list of writers in that genre), Harrison stands out as one of the most respected. Her novels have been translated into thirteen languages and published in more than twenty countries.

View all my reviews

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for TeachHUB and NEA Today, and a freelance journalist. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Quest for Home, Summer 2019. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning

47 thoughts on “2 More Prehistoric Fiction I Loved

  1. Pingback: Top Ten Movies about Prehistoric Man | WordDreams...

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  3. Pingback: Love Prehistoric Fiction? Here are two not to miss | WordDreams...

  4. Hi Jacqui – I’m getting myself into the zone – ready for a blog=hop … they both look interesting .. but will need to wait as I too have masses of books awaiting my attention – cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am not reading the detail of the books you are recommending because I have too many TBR books as it is! I need to cull and give away book I have (mostly unread) because I am not getting to them and there are other books I want to read. I’m sure the books you rec are great so blindfold is on 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know the feeling, AJ. I do browse the books recommended by my trusted friends and find myself buying more than I expected. Luckily, I have a long plane trip coming up (17 hours). I should get a few read in that time!


  6. Jacqui, a great idea to read around the era of your own book and these sounds interesting. Song of the River strikes me particularly. BTW your aside of ‘A note about my reviews: I only review books I enjoyed. I need to be inspired to write. That’s why so many of my reviews are 4/5 or 5/5’ resolves a dilemma I’ve had with certain books I was going to review but really couldn’t as I wasn’t inspired! Thank you for sharing and it makes sense to me and leaves me with a clear conscience!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Interesting topics and themes. I just watched a couple of PBS shows about the arctic north and survival. Have you read or heard of the Greely Expedition to the Arctic to chart and document weather? Today, 100 years later, the records have survived. Such a harrowing true account of men surviving under harsh conditions. One such book is the Ghosts of Cape Sabine: The Harrowing True Story of the Greely Expedition. I enjoyed you post.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Now, Jacqui, you don’t know what you have started: I ordered two fascinating books about arctic exploration, both true accounts. I will have to stop soon and be like my husband who reads about 20 books at a time. I devour one at a time. I need to know what happened next. I think books of space exploration will follow after the ice covered North and South Poles have been explored. While travel there i.e. the Poles is intriguing, I’ll pass and savor Prague this summer where my husband and I will sing Dvorak with the Berkshire Choral International at the castle. Should be fun!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks for these two great reviews, Jacqui! I’ve heard of the first one before and already put it on my TBR list. Really like the title and the cover. ☺ And the second one sounds just as good.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: 2 More Prehistoric Fiction I Loved | WordDreams… | Fantasy Gift Sources: Book Reviews, Article Resources, News

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