Daughter of Kura: A Novel [NOOK Book]

Overview

IN THE WILDS of southeastern Africa more than half a million years ago sits the village of Kura, a matriarchal society of Homo erectus. Snap—a young, passionate woman—is destined to lead her people, and this year she must select a mate for the first time. As the Bonding ceremony approaches, Snap’s future remains unknown. Will she choose someone different each year, or will she find one mate she wants to pick over and over again, like her mother, Whistle, the next leader of Kura? But when Whistle’s mate doesn’t ...
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Daughter of Kura: A Novel

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Overview

IN THE WILDS of southeastern Africa more than half a million years ago sits the village of Kura, a matriarchal society of Homo erectus. Snap—a young, passionate woman—is destined to lead her people, and this year she must select a mate for the first time. As the Bonding ceremony approaches, Snap’s future remains unknown. Will she choose someone different each year, or will she find one mate she wants to pick over and over again, like her mother, Whistle, the next leader of Kura? But when Whistle’s mate doesn’t return, Whistle chooses a stranger with ideas more dangerous than the lions that kill with a single slash.

Snap challenges the stranger’s growing power one too many times and is brutally cast out to survive on her own or perish. Abandoned and alone, she risks her life—and the future of her people—to stand up against an unthinkable evil. Unknown to her, the same danger threatens other villages as well. Soon, Snap and a new band of outcasts will face a force more terrifying—and deadly—than any of prehistoric Africa’s natural threats.

Both imaginative and believable, Daughter of Kura brings to life an ancient and untamed world. Austin has created an unforgettable heroine who comes of age in a thrilling tale of courage, loyalty, and passion.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In Kura, a prehistoric village of women, peace and stability reign under the rule of the tribal Mother. The granddaughter of the current Mother, Snap, is about to undergo her first Bonding ritual, when the women choose mates. Bapoto, a strange man with unfamiliar spiritual ideas, arrives and begins to accumulate power, shifting the society away from its matriarchal structure. Snap resists and is driven from the village. Desperate and pregnant, she must find the wisdom and courage to save her village from Bapoto's threat. Austin, a former doctor with a serious passion for paleoanthropology, brings exhaustive research and strong writing to her debut. She accomplishes an extremely difficult task-to get readers to understand a community that resembles both human and animal societies, but the world she depicts is so alien that at times it's difficult to relate to. Still, this is a remarkable first effort, and Snap and her companions will easily engage readers. (Aug.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal
Austin, a former obstetrician with a lifelong passion for paleoanthropology, has written an original and fascinating first novel set approximately 500,000 years ago in Africa, the cradle of humankind. Now that she has grown into womanhood, 12-year-old Snap, granddaughter of the Kura clan's matriarchal leader, looks forward to the springtime bonding ceremony, marking the time when the men return from hunting and trading. In her clan, men and women come together only for the summer months, when the women select the men they will mate with for the season. Snap and her new mate, Ash, are blissfully happy, their time together marred only by her mother's choice of mate, Bapoto, who brings with him strange new ideas of religion and male dominance. In her notes, Austin explains that she based Snap's world both on the research of evolutionary biologists and paleoanthropologists and on her own speculation of how Homo erectus may have developed art, religion, trade, societal norms, and language. VERDICT Though somewhat reminiscent of Sue Harrison's and Jean M. Auel's books about prehistoric peoples, this debut, which offers a fascinating peek into humanity's earliest days, stands out as well researched and wholly believable.—Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage P.L., AK
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781439134788
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 8/4/2009
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,352,060
  • File size: 310 KB

Meet the Author

Debra Austin is a former obstetrician who closed her practice to pursue writing full time. In addition to obtaining a degree in physics, she has cultivated a rich, extensive self-taught education in paleo-anthropology. She lives in California with her family.
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Read an Excerpt


Southeast Africa, half a million years ago

Chapter 1

Something obscured the horizon. Dark billows smudged the boundary between earth and sky; shreds of amber streaked up from the crumpled, scorched savanna through the colors of a healing bruise. She stood up and squinted over the rim of the dry wash, brow crinkled. Was a distant fire roaring through the parched grass, driving antelope and lions before it? These kinanas, the last yams of summer, must be dug before fire destroyed them or winter rains rotted them. As she stared at the muddled hybrid of sky and savanna, the roiling mass of colors coalesced into the blank, thin faces of her younger brother and sister as they had looked after the food ran out last winter. Just a few more, she thought, and rammed her digging stick into the cracked, unyielding earth. Thunder growled, low pitched and barely perceptible, and her eyes returned to the disturbed horizon. Only a thunderhead. No need to run. These kinanas will feed us this winter.

Sweat soaked her neck, and several more small yams landed in the basket. Thunder grumbled again. A dusty breeze lifted her hair and cooled her sweaty back as she stood up to stretch her cramped hamstrings and survey the sky. Where the thunderhead mushroomed above a ridge to the north, two tall figures reached the crest and stood for a moment, silhouetted against the pall of the storm cloud. One outline had hair in a familiar shape, most likely that of one of the nearby ukoos. The other's head, however, seemed much too small and strangely round, as if its owner were disfigured. Unnerved, she froze, breath held, and watched the figures move east along the ridge and disappear. When they weregone, she drank from her antelope-stomach water bag and resumed digging, her nape hair still standing on end.

Rumbles punctuated the afternoon. Greens, yellows, and purples seethed from the gray cloud anvil into the blue expanse before it. Haphazard, dirt-caked kinanas filled the basket as shadows lengthened disobligingly fast. Plenty of time, she told herself as she jammed in a final kinana. Plenty of time to get home before dark. As she grabbed the basket handle, a pebble skittered from a stand of tall mavue grass, and she flinched. A cane rat, bigger than a baby, teeth sharp as flint? A painted wolf, disemboweler of buffaloes? A spear-wielding stranger? Eyes and ears fixed on the mavue, she rose deliberately, balanced on the balls of her feet. Ten heartbeats, an excruciating eternity, passed.

The mavue twitched. An ocher streak with curved claws and enormous yellow fangs exploded at her. Panic jolted through her; every fraught muscle erupted. She roared, heaved the basket at the leopard with her left hand, and swung her digging stick over her head with her right. The heavy basket slammed into the leopard and parried his attack, yams flying in all directions. His claws only just missed shredding her throat, but she felt them slash through her left arm as she splintered her heavy stick over his head. The leopard staggered and backed away, snarling and shaking his head as if troubled by multiple visions of his unexpectedly fierce prey.

She bellowed again and brandished a sharp fragment of her digging stick with a trembling hand. The savanna disappeared -- she saw only the leopard, heard only the rasp of her breath and her heart pounding in her ears. Deliberately, the cat circled, eyes intent on her throat, nostrils flaring at the blood streaming down her arm. She blinked, and the leopard sprang again. As she dodged to her left, she thrust her improvised spear into his trajectory. The jagged stick tore into his shoulder, and she jerked it back before it could break again. He twisted away, snarled at the bloody lance, and slunk back into the mavue.

With one eye on the tall grass and a hand on her stick, she inspected the gash that split her arm from shoulder to elbow. Blood soaked the hair of her arm and splashed into the last hole she had dug. The smell was strong and earthy, like a damp stream bank with an overturned slab of moss, the unmistakable odor of injury. Hyenas will scent that, even a morning's run from here, she thought, and she examined the stand of mavue, the thickets, the horizons for a reflection of an eye, a movement unexplained by wind. Temporarily satisfied, she turned back to the problem of hiding the blood. Can't waste drinking water for washing, she thought. She took the zebra-hide carrying strap from her water bag, pulled the edges of the wound together, and bound her arm with the strip of hide, holding one end of the strap in her teeth as she tied the knot. As she worked, the sound of a branch rasping against another drew her attention, and a moment later, a soaring raptor distracted her. Finally, the bleeding slowed to an ooze from the ends of the slash. She kicked dirt over her spilled blood and cleaned her arm as best she could with her tongue. That will have to do, she thought, hyenas or not. With a last look for signs of the dazed leopard, she scooped up the scattered yams and started north along the dry wash at a fast lope. Her eyes swept the mavue on both sides of the wash, flicking back over her shoulder at intervals.

The edges of the wash blocked all but a rare breeze, and sweat soon soaked her back and dripped off her face onto her chest, though shadows in the deeper parts of the wash made her shiver. The banks of the wash limited her view as well, but she knew she could run twice as fast over the flat, hard-packed earth in the wash as she could through the dried grass of the savanna, where an unexpected sinkhole in the limestone karst might break a leg, or send her tumbling into a cave. Although she was familiar with the land within a day's run of Kura, a new sinkhole could appear overnight, and so she kept to the wash.

A distant moan of wind echoed the whoop of a hyena. A predatory shadow pursued her, and the rhythm of her pounding feet quickened until she recognized the shadow's source, a scudding cloud. Pain like a smoldering cinder kindled and grew under the improvised bandage, and each heartbeat throbbed against the strap. As a distraction, she began to tell herself the traditional Kura stories she would tell at festivals one day, when she became Mother of Kura like her mother and her mother's mother.

She started with her favorite, about the mother's-mother's-mother who first wove reeds into a basket so that she could carry food to an injured child. Her imagination always supplied the face of her own mother for the hero of this story, and her own face for the injured child. The next one had once frightened her badly on a particularly dark winter night: rock hotter than fire oozes from a mountain and destroys a village. In this story, her eight-year-old brother and four-year-old sister became the children saved by their older sibling who leads them up a high granite outcrop. By the time she got to the tale of the mother's-mother's-mother who left her mother's shelter at Panda Ya Mto and built the first shelter at Kura, her pain was worse, but her mood slightly better. As she ran, an idea hummed through her thoughts. These stories are all about change -- big, long-ago change -- but their purpose is the opposite: to preserve tradition, pass on memories, explain how things happen. Remember what worked before, they said. It will probably work again.

She kept watch on the flat-topped cloud as it ballooned south. By the time she climbed from the dry wash and turned east to clamber along the base of a jagged gray-white ridge, the thunderhead had boiled over most of the sky and occasional fat raindrops raised tiny puffs of dust in front of her feet. The distant rumbling seemed closer, and she whiffed a sharp, disconcerting odor that reminded her of crushed pine needles. The tall grass became distantly spaced shrubby trees, and the ground grew rougher, with stretches of scree slowing her pace. When she stopped for a drink of water, the shadows of the rocks on the uplands above her stretched eastward like giant upraised fists, and she saw something feline slip into a cleft near the top of the ridge and several stone's throws behind her.

In spite of her throbbing arm and stiff legs, alarm quickened her pace. Rested, unhurt, and over even ground she could chase a gazelle for the hunters until it was exhausted, but today, her pace was nothing like a gazelle's. As she sped up, the leopard emerged from the scrub and scrambled over the broken terrain far above her, but she had the advantage of more even ground and kept well ahead of her pursuer. At the end of the ridge, the karst smoothed out into savanna and stretched north toward Kura, and she reckoned she could reach shelter by dark if only she could discourage the leopard. A flash, followed by a rumble, startled her, and the sporadic raindrops coalesced into a steady drizzle that made the fine taupe dust slippery.

Each breath tore through her chest now. Her eyes sought the quickest route and surest footing. Her ears excluded all sounds except the soft scrapes of rock shifting on rock above and behind her. The back of her neck prickled. Finally, the ridge to her left tapered off into yellow-brown grass that brushed her thighs and she risked a backward glance as she turned north, just in time to see the leopard leap onto a low tree branch just above her. A few round stones under her foot sent her sprawling forward. The kinanas rolled in all directions, and the last of her water spilled. Air knocked from her lungs, she struggled to her hands and knees, unable to make a sound.

Over her shoulder, she saw the black spots of the leopard's ginger coat shimmer in the last horizontal ray of the setting sun as he shifted his weight back and forth from one set of rear claws to the other. A wild, terror-driven explosion of energy erupted in her chest and sparked through her body to her fingertips. A desperate gasp flooded her lungs with air and she tried to scramble up, but before she reached her feet, she was knocked back to the ground, blinded and deafened by a crash with the force of a volcanic eruption.

Sometime later, she felt rain falling on her closed eyelids and opened them. Nothing new hurt, the sun was still setting, and the air seemed cooler. Her injured arm looked about the same, and the fall had only bruised her knees and hands. Plastered against her skin by the rain, her hair was too wet to bristle against the cold. The tree from which the leopard had been preparing to attack smoldered in the rain and generated a cloud of steam and smoke. A blackened carcass hung over one of the larger remaining branches. With a shudder, she expressed relief with a sound like water pouring from an upturned jug, gathered her water bag and yams into the basket, and ran north into the gathering dusk as fast as pain and fear could drive her.

As the rain and the light faded, she struck a familiar, well-trodden path. Her legs became stronger and the basket lighter, and her pace quickened. Soon the white heights of Kura's limestone outcrop appeared, dotted across its southern face with saffron-colored watch fires. When she judged herself near enough, she announced her arrival with a low-pitched, reverberating sound, like a deep-voiced, peculiarly persistent owl. A tall, dark brown form ducked out from one of the highest shelters, climbed a rock, and looked in her direction. A moment later, it sprang from the rock and sprinted toward her. She recognized her brother Thump, even taller than he had been two years ago, and with his much longer beard and hair now twisted into the style of the Panda Ya Mto. She squealed greetings and sped up the slope, pain and exhaustion forgotten.

He stopped a few feet from her and began to make the respectful signs usually made by a man returning to a village after his summer journey. She laughed, dropped her basket and stick, and grabbed him around the middle with her uninjured arm, mixing sounds for relief and greeting as if she were a stream squealing with pleasure. They broke apart and both began to gesture simultaneously. Two sets of hands flew as they formed words with their fingers, with an occasional sound to convey emotion.

"Don't be silly!" she signed. "You needn't act like you're here for the Bonding -- you can't take a mate in your birth village."

"Snap, what happened to your arm?" he signed at the same time. "Let's wash off that blood before a lion comes after you."

Eventually, the torrent of words slowed and they began to pay attention to each other's words. Thump picked up Snap's basket and broken stick, and they walked toward the Kura stream where she could clean her wound.

"You're as tall as a white rhinoceros. A trader thought you had gone to the Panda Ya Mto people. Half the men in that ukoo must have been born in Kura. Don't you need to be there for the Bonding? What are you doing here?"

"Tell me your story first," he signed one-handed, "and then I'll tell mine."

The story of the leopard attack fluttered from her hands in the fading light, and Thump rumbled in the back of his throat with amazement and disbelief. When she reached the lightning strike, he gave a bark of astonishment, and then a gurgle of relief. They passed the origin of Kura's stream where it issued from the limestone just below the village, and then followed its bubbling course down a tiny ravine. Snap reached up and tucked in one of the felted coils of her brother's beard. "Nice twists. You only had rabbit fur on your face when you left." Thump glanced at her sideways, as if he suspected sarcasm. Apparently reassured, he straightened up as they walked on. She took a long look at Thump in the dusk. He was bigger, she thought, and his beard was more impressive. She tried to avoid staring at his now adult-size genitals by reminding herself that this was still the same older brother who had taught her to drive gazelles toward the hunters, who had helped check snares when it was not his turn, who had even been known to share his food. After his two-year absence, she was disconcerted by how she felt: oddly maternal, with a hint of the feelings that the older men induced in her.

When the stream slowed and widened into a pool, Snap untied her arm and waded in to immerse it in the water. Blood blossomed into the slowly moving water like a huge pink amaryllis. Snap imagined the pink-stained water flowing downstream, faster past the white limestone below Kura, where hyenas denned in the banks, and slower through the flatter savanna, where crocodiles imitated floating logs, to the Kijito river, a morning's walk to the south, and she hoped nothing would come in search of the source of the blood.

While she cleaned up, Thump recounted his experiences since he had left Kura. Two winters ago, the arrival of his adult beard had compelled him to leave the village in the spring with the other men to spend the summer traveling, hunting, and trading. Not allowed to seek a mate in his mother's ukoo, he hoped to find a mate in one of the nearby ukoos at the fall Bonding festival, but unfortunately, the women of both Panda Ya Mto and Jiti found him young and poorly supplied with tools, meat, and hunting skills. He spent the winter in an uneasy truce with several other young bachelors in a makeshift shelter near the Kijito.

The following summer, Thump's trading and hunting were more successful. That fall, he offered better gifts to the appealing women, and interested one called Dew, of the Panda Ya Mto people. She was healthy, slightly older than Thump, of medium rank, and with no living children, and when the Bonding of the Panda Ya Mto was celebrated, she chose Thump. Dew had twisted his hair and beard into the style of her ukoo and taught him the hoots to identify himself as Panda Ya Mto. When her brother described Dew, Snap noticed he had a partial erection and looked distracted, pleased, and a bit foolish, something like the way he had looked after his first successful hunt.

"Aren't you going back there this fall?" She grimaced as she freed a blood clot from her arm, and the wound gushed again.

"Of course. But I met someone interesting this summer, and I've brought him here to visit. I'll get back to Panda Ya Mto in plenty of time for the Bonding."

She frowned, which made her brow ridge even more prominent. "Where is he from?"

"Far away sunset-ward. He is called Bapoto."

She snorted. "Didn't his mother give him a real name?" The Kura called all children "Baby" until their fourth spring, when they received a Kura name, a sign similar to those for common sounds. Bapoto's name, on the other hand, meant nothing; it was not like any sign she had ever seen.

"They have different kinds of names there."

She finished washing her arm and rinsed out the strap she had used to bind it, and he helped her tie up her wound again. Around them, sepia and beige had faded to black and gray, and both scrutinized the shadows as they walked back to the shelters. Snap signed, "I'm a woman now. I can choose a winter mate at the Bonding."

He nodded. "Good, it's about time. You certainly look like a woman now." Snap wondered if her brother had been trying to avoid staring at her as well. "Is anybody interested?"

"There are more than a dozen men staying at the men's shelter already, back from their summer journeys. They all bring gifts to Chirp, because she is the Mother of Kura, but she never takes a winter mate anymore. Whistle gets something from most of the men, but she always chooses Meerkat. Not much for me." She tried to look pleased about gifts for their grandmother and mother, but her brother knew her too well and patted her shoulder.

"There will be more next fall. Men don't like to be chosen by the lowest-ranked woman in a household." Snap thought he looked patronizing and gave him a small kick to remind him which of them would be Mother one day.

The nearly full moon was rising as they neared Chirp's shelter. High on the Kura ridge, it faced southwest toward the Kijito. Like the other shelters of Kura, its walls were white limestone, shaped partly by nature and partly by generations of occupants. Antelope hides laced together with leather strips formed the roof. Often repaired and rearranged, the shelter seemed to have grown from the ridge, an aboriginal refuge from winter storms and spring downpours.

Snap hooted softly outside the door to announce their arrival, and a woman emerged from the door flap carrying an infant on her hip in a sling. At thirty, Whistle was no longer beautiful, but she was nearly as tall and strong as Thump. Her large, calm eyes were unusually green and wide set, like a buffalo's, and she habitually slouched, as if to hide her high status by disguising her size. Perched alertly on her mother's hip, the baby crowed a sort of greeting and stretched an arm out to Snap, moving her fingers in a fair imitation of Snap's name.

Whistle squealed greetings, nuzzled Thump's ear, and waved him into the shelter with the basket of yams. As she turned to her elder daughter and leaned down to nuzzle her ear as well, Snap's makeshift bandage caught her attention. "Snap! What happened to your arm? And why are you out in the dark? We have been hearing hyenas nearby all day."

"I met a leopard on the way home, but don't worry. I didn't bring him along."

The older woman jerked her head upward in amusement. The baby squirmed as Whistle peeked under Snap's binding. "Does it need to be cleaned?"

Snap shook her head. "Thump and I went down to the stream already. The cut is deep but it's clean, and it's not bleeding anymore."

Satisfied with her inspection, Whistle straightened up. "Thump has brought a far-walker, and also two rabbits. Some of the meat is saved for you, if he hasn't eaten it already."

Snap followed her mother under the door flap into the shelter. A small fire burning in a stone ring struggled to illuminate an irregularly shaped room filled with smoke unable to find its way to the flap in the roof or out of the narrow gap that served as a window. Rolled sleeping hides in an alcove in the far wall cocooned her younger brother and sister and her grandmother Chirp. Her neck and back relaxed as her nostrils filled with familiar smells -- unwashed women and children, smoke, recently cooked meat, the nearby midden. An unfamiliar male smell, however, made her nape hair bristle.

Thump was sitting near the fire with a man Snap didn't know. Both were signing rapidly, and Thump was laughing. The man was tall and broad shouldered, nearly as big as Thump. Instead of one of the usual elaborate hairstyles, the visitor appeared to have shorn his gray-streaked mane to the length of his body hair. Snap thought his eyes were too close together and his nostrils too narrow, like a shrewd cobra, and she wondered what this old man was doing so far from home.

Whistle greeted them with a soft squeal. The men jumped to their feet and greeted the two women with respectful gestures appropriate to their high standing -- daughter and granddaughter of the Mother of Kura. Whistle went to a storage alcove in the left wall and began to rummage in it. The stranger placed his hands on each side of his face, palms outward. Snap did likewise and squealed a muffled greeting. "This is Bapoto, of the Kao," signed Thump. "This is my sister Snap, of the Kura." Formalities completed, she took from her mother a wooden bowl containing a portion of a roasted rabbit and several tiny sour baobab fruit. With profuse one-handed thanks, she squatted at the fire facing the men and began to eat with an occasional oblique glance at the visitor. Whistle waved the men back to their places at the fire, where they resettled themselves and resumed their conversation, unaware of Snap's surreptitious surveillance. Snap had met most of the men returning from summer journeys as they paid their respects to Chirp on their arrival, and most of them had at least transient erections when they met Snap, but this one, she noticed, did not. When Thump finished telling a story, Bapoto turned to Snap.

"Thump says you were injured by a leopard today," Bapoto gestured.

She nodded, chewing. Her arm hurt, she was tired and hungry, and she had told the story to Thump already. If the stranger had been one of the younger returning men, one of those with the fascinating scents, she might have told it again, but not to this graybeard.

"And the leopard was killed by lightning?"

She nodded again.

Bapoto made a low-pitched, quavering whistle, a sound that communicated nothing to Snap. "The spirit of the leopard may have entered your wound. You must be careful."

"What is 'spirit'?"

He made the odd sound again and signed, "The soul of the leopard. That which lives inside during life, and goes to the Great One after death."

"Soul" was not a sign Snap recognized either. "I have cleaned the wound, and there is no part of the leopard left inside." She caught her mother's eye and raised one eyebrow. Whistle gave her a be polite look. She turned her attention to sucking the last bit of meat from the rabbit bones.

"It's full dark," signed Whistle. "You two had better go to the men's shelter, or Meerkat will come around to collect you, and I don't think either of you would enjoy that." Meerkat, whom Whistle had chosen at the Bonding every fall for as long as Snap could remember, was a stickler for tradition in the matter of visiting members of the opposite sex after dark.

The two men took their leave with polite signs, picked up bundles near the door, and ducked under the flap. Through the window gap, Snap watched her brother and the shorn-headed stranger as they headed down the slope in the direction of the men's shelter in the bright moonlight.

"Why is he here?" Snap asked, still worrying at the rabbit bones.

"Bapoto? Or Thump?" Whistle squatted next to her daughter, drew fibers from a basket, and began to braid them into a rope.

"Both. Thump should be hanging around Panda Ya Mto to make sure no one else pays too much attention to his woman, if he wants her to choose him this winter. And that pompous old man had better think about where he's going to spend the winter. I can't imagine any of the Kura women would be interested in someone so peculiar."

Whistle picked at a tangled strand of unanasi, eyes narrowed. "He's different, yes, but Thump says these odd ideas make Bapoto a better hunter. In fact, Thump seems to think one of the Kura women will chose Bapoto."

Snap watched Whistle's shadow as it flickered on the limestone behind her, one instant appearing solid and ordinary, the next twisted into a contorted, wildly unfamiliar shape. Dubiously, she began crunching up the rabbit bones. It didn't seem likely to her that weird warbles would make anyone a better hunter, and the idea that some part of a leopard had gotten inside her and would be dangerous was just loathsome, but surely that odd old man would be gone soon. Wouldn't he?

Copyright © 2009 by Debra Grubb

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 1, 2009

    Facinating story

    Despite my misgivings, I found DAUGHTER OF KURA a very endearing book. From the first chapter, I felt drawn into the rugged, wild setting of Africa 500,000 years ago. Snap herself didn't engage me as much as her story and how it flowed together; the details about a proposed landscape and lifestyle that seemed so real. The fixation I had on the entire story was that they used signing as their main language, only using sounds to express emotions. I read the author's note and thought the idea that the characters in the story use sign language while perhaps supported by scientific fact, was the best way to help the reader into the setting.

    The matriarchal society fascinated me, the use of sign language opened knew doorways in communication styles, and Snap and her company of characters pulled me willingly along with them in Snap's laborious and demanding journey to find her destiny

    I can't wait for the sequal!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 7, 2011

    A window into and unknown world

    With Daughter of Kura, Debra Austin does what science cannot. She shows the lives of our ancestors, native people with limited knowledge outside of the land. She spins an enchanting tale of a young woman fighting against new and strange beliefs that tear her world apart. The book is set in southeastern Africa about half a million years ago. The characters are not human in the way that we think of today, but Austin does a nice job of giving modern human qualities to our distant relatives. They keep their lives simple, not worrying about next year, but working on getting through the season without incident. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has interest in the early life of humans. With their class systems and food chains, the native people had life figured out. Austin lets us see past the stunted, hunched figures and into a whole new era. Daughter of Kura gives a whole new look and feel to our primate ancestors. -AJW

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    Posted March 22, 2011

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    Posted January 18, 2011

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    Posted January 17, 2012

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