From the very start it is clear that this is a book based on hours of observation, of close attention to detail and a keen eye.
The descriptions of the Otter's eye view of the Devon countryside rings very true; the plants, the birds and other animals occur exactly where they should be and the author clearly has a feel for water.
The otters in the book, especially Tarka, seem both real and fantastical at the same time - brave, cunning, highly intelligent and remarkably resolute. Whether this is a true reflection of the biological otter is a matter for debate, but the whole the book feels more believable than mythical.
The story is told in a simple and straight forward manner, and for all that the otters become somewhat humanised the story is far from romantic. The death of the otters at the hands of otter hunters in brutal, and their casual disregard for other living things is clearly shown.
This is a sympathetic portrait of otters and an honest, but not flattering, one of humans.
`Animal stories' of this type do feel rather old fashioned, but the detail of the observation lifts this book above the ordinary.