From the back cover:
Four children 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 for ever. 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 this book up for review, I had no idea this was going to be a multi-author series featuring some of the biggest names in children’s fiction. My boys had read and enjoyed Brandon Mull’s writing before (especially The Candy Shop War) and they love fantasy/adventure stories, so I knew this one was sure to be a winner with them. I was not wrong!
The book centers around four children from very different parts of the world, who drink of the nectar on their 11th birthday and discover that they have each called a spirit animal. This rare gift sets them on a journey to nurture the powers their animals bring in preparation for stopping a dark force that has risen from the past. It’s up to these very special children to save the world before it is destroyed, but are they up to the task?
Much of this book is basically used as set-up for the future books in the series, and as such, it spends huge chunks of time introducing the characters and foreshadowing their role in the upcoming conflict. By the time the story really gets rolling (about 2/3 of the way through) and the adventure takes off, we get a small glimpse of the action and conflict to come and then, before we know it, the book is over.
However, the premise is fresh and exciting, and the characters are unique and likeable, which makes me invested enough to see what the next book in the series has to offer. Middle Grade readers who love fantasy and adventure are sure to love this one!