Blood Ties: Spirit Animals, Book 3

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Blood Ties: Spirit Animals, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Multiplatform fantasy series ups the battle violence.

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Kids say

age 9+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Specific to this installment: talk of the very curious lifecycle of bamboo. In all the books, enhanced powers that the spirit animals pass to their human counterparts will get readers thinking about animals' keener eyesight, superior jumping ability and agility, etc., and perhaps spark some conversation about which skills are natural and which, like prophecy and healing, are magical.

Positive Messages

Teamwork and loyalty are the two big themes here, followed by forgiveness and trust. Kids continue to struggle with conflicting loyalties -- to their heroic cause and to their families.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Two of the four main characters stand out in this one: the usually stubborn Meilin, for apologizing to her friends for making the wrong decision, and Rollan, for choosing to be honest at a crucial point in the story.


Violence & Scariness

There are two sad deaths in a big climactic battle with many more deaths and injuries from arrows, axes, swords, and animal bites. Giant crocs attack in that battle and a few times in the swamp; in a rare moment of goriness Conor's axe is pulled from a croc skull with a "hideous sucking sound." Rollan gets sick and falls unconscious. Kids are hit with poisoned darts and awake tied up.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Blood Ties is the third book in a multimedia, multi-author series from Scholastic, similar to its 39 Clues and Infinity Ring series. There's a website where young readers can choose their own spirit animal and character identity, and enter codes from the books they read to unlock prizes and whatnot. Aimed at animal-loving tween readers just digging into fantasy tales, each book since the series debut in September 2013 -- Wild Born, by Brandon Mull -- is written by a different, seasoned children's author -- or in this case, two -- with new installments appearing every few months. As in the first two books, the plot of Blood Ties isn't terribly complicated, but the four diverse 11-year-old characters face a bit more battle violence this time. A climactic scene involves much bloodshed from giant crocs, axes, arrows, and swords, and there are two sad deaths among the casualties. Teamwork is still the most important theme of the series. The four tweens need each other to survive against the giant croc-riding Devourer and his army, and they need the help from other armies as well.

User Reviews

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  • Kids say

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Kid, 9 years old February 1, 2015

Really good book. I'm really into the series and I love it so far.

A good book for kids 10 and up only because it does talk about blood and killing. Anyways it's good for 10 and up. Also the book has really good imagery.... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old April 20, 2017

What's the story?

Meilin and Conor may be miles apart, but the same emotion is consuming them: regret. Meilin for stealing off in the night to Zhong to help her father fight, only to get hopelessly lost and nearly starve in a bamboo maze. And Conor regrets giving the Earl of Trunswick something his fellow Greencloaks desperately needed to fight the Devourer. But what was he supposed to do? Luckily for Conor, there's little time for brooding. He, Abeke, Rollan, and experienced Greencloak Tarik are heading into a Zhong port to meet a messenger ready to help them find the next talisman they need: the Slate Elephant. Sneaking into an enemy-held port is just the beginning of their trials to find the talisman. A jungle, rhino-riding warriors, and a giant croc-filled swamp await.

Is it any good?

Scholastic brings on more good authors with BLOOD TIES. Garth Nix and Sean Williams keep the story moving and the likeable main characters focused on teamwork and defeating the enemy. The climactic battle is the most exciting in the series yet. Still, the same problem remains three books in: so much focus on the simple task at hand -- get the talisman, where's the next one? -- and not much on the long game. The Devourer shows up finally, but just as a one-note bad guy with the scary name. Here's hoping the next in the series gives him a bit more depth.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about animals and their talents. Which animal would you like as your spirit animal? What "powers" would you borrow from it?

  • What do you think of the series so far? Will you keep reading? Will you keep going online to play the games? Do you like it when books come with "extras" like these?

  • Each book in the series features different authors. Are there authors you like that you think should have a turn? Would you like to write one? Where would you put the next talisman? What impossible obstacles would you put in the way of the characters?

Book details

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For kids who love fantasy and animal stories

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