Wolf blood by N.M. Browne

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Bloomsbury, 2011. ISBN 9781408812556.
(Age: 13+) Recommended. Trista is a Celtic warrior girl who has been taken as a slave. When she finally manages to escape she falls into the hands of two Roman soldiers. Using her gift of sight, she realises that one of the soldiers has a secret; he has Celtic blood and he is also a shape shifter who shares his soul with a wolf. Together they have a chance of survival and by using both of their skills they cross dangerous territory trying to reach Caratacus, the leader of the tribes, who is gathering his forces before his land is overrun.
This was an exciting and refreshing novel which has all the ingredients that will appeal to teen readers: a strong, determined heroine, a young man who turns into a wolf and an exciting adventure story line. However it goes well beyond the usual paranormal romances involving werewolves. The setting is the first century AD and Browne has done a wonderful job of bringing that period to life. It is not hard to picture a Roman fort, early villages, tribal meetings and rough terrain from her vivid, well written descriptions.
Browne uses different chapters to tell the story of her two characters, bringing each alive. Both are deeply appealing. I was fascinated by Morcant's struggle with his wolf nature and the call that the female wolf had for him. Often I was afraid that he would not make it back as a young man. Trista too, had struggles with her gift of the Sight and this added tension to the story as she went about her quest to deliver a message to the Celtic leader.
An action packed adventure, this historical fantasy with its supernatural elements, strong characters and beautiful writing, was an absorbing read. I look forward to reading others by this author.
Pat Pledger