Spirit Animals: Wild Born is written by Brandon Mull. It was published in 2013 by Scholastic. This is a book series a la The 39 Clues, with different authors writing each book. The website can be found here.
“In the world of Erdas, four children are about to discover if they have a spirit animal, a rare bond between human and beast that gives great powers to both. Separated by vast distances, Conor, Abeke, Meilin, and Rollan each see a flash of light…and then the animals emerge.
Wolf, leopard, panda, falcon. Each of the children has summoned a beast from legend. Now their fate is set. The four new heroes and their animals must band together on a dangerous quest. A dark force from the past is rising, and only they have the power to stop it.”
An interesting book overall. I liked the concept of the animals. Rollan was probably my favorite character; he was the sarcastic comic relief of the book. Also, it amused me that Abeke probably learned more about her spirit animal during her time with the bad guys than the other three did with the good guys.
It’s a small book, but Mull manages to put in a lot of set-up and areas for character development (Meilin….). There’s also quite a lot of worldbuilding, and it’s explained and incorporated pretty well.
That cover art is majestic.
However, I feel that books like this suffer a bit for too-fast development and pacing. They churn out a lot of these books in a short amount of time and so the quality drops, in my opinion. Mull did a good job handling it, but I felt that a longer book, with the capability of a slower pace, would have been better.
I liked the concept of the animals, but nothing special really stood out to me. It was just overall “meh.”
Also, fantasies need to stop calling the “English” of the book “Common.” And pointing out that their characters are speaking it.
Recommended Age Range: 10+
Warnings: A bit of violence.
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Now the largest wolf he had ever seen stood before him, head held high. It was a remarkable creature—long-limbed, well fed, with the most luxurious coat of gray-white fur Conor could have imagined. He took in large paws, keen claws, savage teeth, and striking cobalt-blue eyes.
In the history of Erdas, only one wolf had such deep blue eyes.
Conor glanced at the Euran flag hanging from the earl’s grandstand. Briggan the Wolf, patron beast of Era, stood depicted upon a rich blue banner, eyes shrewd and piercing.
“I’m Tarik,” the Greencloak said. “I take it you’re Rollan?”
“I was trying to keep a low profile,” Rollan said. “How could you tell? It was the falcon, wasn’t it?”
“Meilin, Conor, I would like you to meet Rollan,” Tarik said. “He was born and raised here in Amaya. Just as you two summoned Jhi and Briggan, he called Essix.”
The wolf padded forward and the falcon fluttered down to stand before it. The panda moved in close as well, and Essix gave a soft screech. The three animals cautiously investigated each other.
An interesting concept, with cool animals and pretty decent worldbuilding, but overall, I thought there was too much going on, too fast, and the pace sort of ruined the experience for me. I didn’t hate it but it didn’t wow me, either.
You can buy this here: Spirit Animals: Book 1: Wild Born