Four children–Abeke, Meilin, Rollan and Connor– separated by vast distances all undergo the same ritual, watched by cloaked strangers. Four flashes of light erupt, and from them emerge the unmistakable shapes of incredible beasts—a wolf, a leopard, a panda, a falcon. Suddenly the paths of these children—and the world—have been changed forever.
Enter the world of Erdas, where every child who comes of age must discover if they have a spirit animal, a rare bond between human and beast that bestows great powers to both. A dark force has risen from distant and long-forgotten lands, and has begun an onslaught that will ravage the world. Now the fate of Erdas has fallen on the shoulders of four young strangers . . . and on you.
When I picked up Spirit Animals, I wasn’t certain what I was going to get. I saw that it was a new multi-author series. Maybe it was like the Infinity Ring and 39 Clues series? I liked both. But it is a fantasy novel with animals, too, and I rarely enjoy those. Luckily, I did like Wild Born! The beginning of this novel took WAY too long, though. I was at page 90 and the characters were still discovering their spirit animals. This book is only 224 pages. I understand there are 4 main characters and each has to summon his/her spirit animal, but still! Since this is a series, I am hoping that the next books have more action and less build-up.
As mentioned, I’m not usually a fan of animal fantasy novels, or animal novels in general. Don’t get me wrong, I love animals! But for some reason, I rarely enjoy animal-based stories. I’m not going to say that Wild Born is a rare exception, but I think it helped that the story was focused on the kids most of the time instead of their animals.
There are two opposing sides in this novel, the “Greencloaks” and some unnamed, mysterious group. At first I thought that the 2nd group was the villainous side, since the “Greencloaks” explained to the kids that Group #2 wanted to summon their evil (and very much dead) leader. Then I saw Group #2 from the point of view of Abeke, who has been brought to their side. She doesn’t think that they are evil and as it is explained to her, the “Greencloaks” are the true villains. I loved not knowing where the real antagonism lies and even at the end, I still wasn’t sure. Suspense is a primary ingredient for a successful novel!
Besides the shortness, I think my only problem with Wild Born is that it is mostly setting up for the ensuing novels instead of focusing on the plot of the current one. I understand the world needs to be explained and characters need to discover their spirit animals, but I wish the plot would have moved a bit faster.
I can definitely see the appeal of Wild Born. It satisfies many essentials for a successful MG fantasy novel: relatable characters, believable world-building, magic, and…is that a fantasy creature? Why, yes, it is. Although it was on the shorter side, I liked Wild Born enough to give it four stars. Hopefully, there will be more adventuring and less waiting around and learning in the subsequent novels.