Immortal Guardians: Spirit Animals: Fall of the Beasts, Book 1

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Immortal Guardians: Spirit Animals: Fall of the Beasts, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Exciting -- and creepy -- start to spin-off fantasy series.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

In the cave city of Phos Astos are many adaptations humans made to live permanently underground, from what they eat to what kind of houses they live in and how they navigate the cave system.

Positive Messages

As with the first Spirit Animal series, bravery and teamwork are essential. Two characters bond over what it means to be true to themselves instead of cowing to traditional roles and what their parents expect of them.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Readers of the last Spirit Animals series already know the strengths of the diverse four main characters well. By this time they have formed a tight bond and have confidence in their abilities.

Violence & Scariness

The scare factor is high when Meilin squeezes through a pitch-dark cave and into the arms of zombie-like creatures who scratch and bite. Later an army of creatures destroys everything in its path; people are bitten and clawed to death. The gross factor is high when a worm-like parasite crawls under victims' skin and eventually takes over their minds. Bloody battles with humans and giant, powerful animals seriously injure main characters. Humans fight with a quarterstaff, arrows, knives, and an ax. Two characters lose their spirit animals to the parasite; because of their bond, the process is very painful. There's also a cave collapse and last-second saves from falls and booby traps.

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Immortal Guardians is the first book in the Fall of the Beasts spin-off series that picks up at the end of the original, highly popular Spirit Animals series, and it is similarly multimedia and multi-author. There's a website where young readers can choose their own spirit animals and character identities and enter codes from the books they read to unlock prizes and whatnot. Each book is by a different children's author, and books are released every few months, starting in August 2015. Both Spirit Animals series are set up for animal-loving tween readers just digging into fantasy books, and it's much easier to read Immortal Guardians if you've read the other series. Prepare for a bit more scariness and creepiness from this book than in stories past. One of the main characters panics when she's enclosed in a small space in a pitch-dark cave, then attacked by hordes of zombie-like creatures who bite and claw. These creatures are victims of a parasitic worm that travels under the skin until it reaches the forehead and takes over their minds. The main characters battle it out with them and with large animals, enduring a few serious injuries while bravely defending one another. Bravery and teamwork remain the strongest assets of the four diverse tween characters at the heart of the two series.

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What's the story?

In IMMORTAL GUARDIANS, the three young heroes of Erdas -- Connor, Abeke, and Rollan -- summon the fourth, Meilin, back from her home in Zhong, for a very good reason: The greatest of the spirit animal guardians are being stolen by Zerif, an old and dangerous foe, as soon as they're reborn. No one's sure how he's turning the animals against the humans they bond with, but they suspect it has to do with a symbol that seems carved into their foreheads. It's a symbol that Kovo the ape, a newly reborn and dangerous spirit animal saved from Zerif, draws over and over, along with a door. When the four heroes find a picture of the same door in a history book, they know they need to follow where it leads. But there's also word of another spirit animal guardian needing protection from Zerif. The four kids decide to split up. Rollan and Abeke set off to find the guardian and stop Zerif. And Meilin and Connor follow Kovo the ape to a mysterious door leading to an underground world that history forgot, where scary zombie-like creatures have the same ominous symbol on their foreheads. 

Is it any good?

There's not a dull moment in this exciting series start featuring the ready-made heroes from the first Spirit Animals series, who split up to tackle very different but equally difficult tasks. Rolland and Abeke set out to confront the enemy they know, though they don't know the source of his newfound power, and Meilin and Connor discover the unknown, and quite creepy, enemy underground. The two story lines are a great contrast and set up many possibilities for future adventures, which is what the start of every long-running series strives for.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the underground city of Phos Astos. How did the humans there adapt to a life with no sunlight? Would you be able to live there?

  • What about the first Spirit Animals series and about Fall of the Beasts appeals to you most? Do you like the interactive part or the books the best? Or simply spending more time with favorite characters?

  • If you had a spirit animal, what would it be?

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