Ghost Hunter (Chronicles of Ancient Darkness #6) by Michelle Paver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Okay, this book totally redeems the series. It is at least as well done as the first book of the series (Wolf Brother).
With as little as I liked the fourth and fifth books in this series, I wonder if I just don’t like middle books. I’m one of those people who thinks The Empire Strikes Back is incredibly boring, and I’d just rather get to the Ewoks, thank you very much. (Incidentally, I also still think of the Star Wars movies as a trilogy. They start with IV and end with VI, and that’s enough for me.) It’s possible that’s what’s gone on with this series for me.
So, what do I think is better about this book?
More vivid descriptions. I was able to visualize the setting again like I wasn’t able to when I read the fourth and fifth books. The moths, the ice storm, the craggy mountain trails, the forest, the reindeer…I could see them all.
Tighter plot. Maybe it’s because Paver knew she was wrapping up the series with this book, but it’s just put together better than the book before it. I could see the trajectory of the story and there didn’t seem to be as many distractions. And Paver brought back elements from the first books and kind of tied things together, which can sometimes be cheesy or tedious, this was neither tedious nor cheesy. Except for one character towards the end who seemed a little tacked on, Paver showed in an un-forced way how things all fit together.
Of course, this might be a bit misleading for younger readers because it implies that greater clarity comes with age, which I’ve not found to be the case, at least not in any dramatic way. But that’s a flaw of many books for teens/young adults. And what’s really the alternative? A book that admits that the confusion and fear kids feel isn’t likely to go away, but instead just morph as time passes? That no answers are revealed when they pass through the veil to adulthood? That there in fact isn’t even a veil to pass through and you don’t even know you’re a grown-up until suddenly one day you realize you have been for a while now and you totally missed the transition? Even I wouldn’t read a book like that. Or I guess I would—it’s actually the kind of literary fiction towards which I usually gravitate—I just wouldn’t read it to my eight-year-old.
Better characterization. I think this is mostly because there are fewer characters in this book. We’re back to, mostly, the primary characters of the series, and Paver does a very good job showing the motivations behind their actions (or inaction). I wanted to find out what they were going to do and I cared what happened to them, which is always a good quality for a book. And I loved the role Fin-Kedinn played in this one. He’s a class act, that one.
Reading Oath Breaker, I was motivated to read quickly because I just wanted to finish it (which I know is a horrible thing to say about the hard work of an author, but that was my experience). With Ghost Hunter I read it quickly because I was drawn from one chapter to the next. I didn’t want to put it down until I’d read the whole story. It was a strong way to end the series. Even if it did mess up my bed time.