Reindeer Moon may well come to be regarded as the supreme contemporary novel of our prehistory. It opens up corridors to the imagination that lead us back toward the long echoes of our distant human past, and its characters, as vivid as any alive, live on in the mind long after the book has been set down.
Reindeer Moon is the first novel, but not the first book, by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of classic anthropological accounts of hunters and gatherers. Yanan, its headstrong heroine, lived twenty thousand years ago near Woman Lake in central Siberia among places you will not find on any modern map. Yanan, only thirteen when her story begins, is passionate and courageous, and her companions--hunters of deer, gatherers of roots and twigs, shamans, babies at the breast--are all, like her, bound to the harsh realities of hunger, cold, death by violence or childbirth, and the cycles of love and jealousy, of marriage and kinship. As Yanan recounts the terrible adventures of her brief life she departs, from time to time, on spirit journeys that evoke the lives of animals with extraordinary intimacy, for Yanan's fate is like ours but conceived in different terms.