The Drowning Land by David M. Donachie

The Drowning Land by David M. Donachie
Publisher: CAAB Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Romance, Paranormal, Action/Adventure, Historical
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

The world is drowning.

Edan’s tribe has always survived by knowing the land and following its stories.

But now their world is changing, and they must change with it, or die.

When young fisherman Edan rescues the troll seer Tara from Phelan wolf-touched, he makes a powerful enemy. But Tara’s visions bring them hope that the world might still be saved.

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The Drowning Land takes us back eight thousand years to the Mesolithic Period when a lost land, Doggerland, still connected England to France across what is now the North Sea. Inspired by the extensive research conducted by archaeologists over the past two decades, this is a story of our distant ancestors and how they confronted the climate catastrophe that overwhelmed their world.

Salty ocean water is seeping into the meadows and forests and destroying them. There are fewer animals to hunt or plants to gather with each passing season, so how can Edan and Tara hope to survive?

The world building in this novel was phenomenal. Mr. Donachie created several different tribes among the humans and Troll People that each had their own complex cultures, histories, taboos, rituals, and legends. Figuring out the differences between them was nearly as rewarding as taking note of all of the ways in which they were more similar to one another than most of them would probably have cared to admit. The author also created well-developed and logical settings that helped to explain why one culture might fear a forest while another couldn’t imagine life outside of it. I couldn’t have been more impressed with all of the work he put into making Doggerland come alive in my imagination.

I loved the way the romantic subplot was handled. The characters involved in it were dealing with multiple conflicts at the same time, so any hint of love or romance between them needed to develop slowly when they found moments here and there to catch their breath. This gave them plenty of time to get to know each other as individuals first. It also made me eager to find out if one of them would finally make the first move and push that part of the storyline forward!

The pacing was strong and steady from the first scene to the last one. No matter how many chapters I’d already read on a particular day, I always wanted to read just one more. It was exciting to imagine what might happen to the characters next. The storyline always struck that perfect balance between action scenes and brief moments of reflection and rest when needed.

One of the things I enjoy the most about prehistoric stories like this one is how they translate real scientific discoveries about the lives of ancient people into fiction. Mr. Donachie did an excellent job of explaining some of the most recent theories about what life in the real Doggerland was like eight thousand years ago and what probably happened to the people who had to flee it as the sea levels rose and all of that land was swallowed up by the ocean. Without giving away spoilers, I was also mesmerized by the author’s explanation of who the Troll People were and why it’s possible they truly existed thousands of years ago.

I can’t recommend The Drowning Land highly enough, especially to anyone who adores stories about hunter-gatherers and prehistory.