I was lucky enough to read an ARC of Julie Eshbaugh's masterful debut. This is a book I've wanted to read since I first heard about it--a YA novel set in pre-historic era is unlike anything else I can think of in the market right now. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect going in, but that didn't seem to matter--Eshbaugh drew me in almost at once with her sharp prose and interesting characters (and she manages to pull off a second-person narration, which can be extremely hard to do).
Ivory and Bone follows Kol and his family, a pre-historic clan living on the fringes of the great ice, where they hunt mammoth and other animals for meat and furs. The world Eshbaugh describes is one of incredible beauty and incredible danger, and that tension undergirds Kol's story, as his family--already worried about the future of a clan in which there are no young women for Kol and his brothers to marry--celebrates the arrival of Mya, her sister and her brother, members of a thriving clan to the south. This arrival promises welcome alliances and friendship between the clans, but almost at once, Kol and Mya find themselves wary of one another--a hesitation that's only complicated by the arrival of still a third clan and the slow unveiling of deep-held secrets that might destroy them all.
Eshbaugh does a wonderful job of fleshing out an unusual world. Though my life is nothing like Kol's, I could understand and relate to his worries--his fears for the future and his more immediate fears of being stalked by a saber-tooth tiger--and the pleasure he takes in hunting for honey. The relationships she draws were moving and believable, and I loved the slow unfolding of Kol's friendship with Mya. As the action climaxed, I couldn't put the book down. Definitely one to read in 2016!