Brandon Mull’s Spirit Animals is about four children– Conor, Abeke, Meilin and Rollan– born in Erdas. They are eleven-years-old when they are expected to drink the Nectar before witnesses, where it will be revealed if they have a spirit animal. Irrespective of class or gender, all children are eligible ( in fact must) drink the nectar. Whereupon Conor, Abeke, Meilin and Rollan are successful in calling Briggan the Wolf, patron beast of Eura; Uraza the leopard; Jhi the panda, who is on the Great Seal of Zhong; and Essix the Falcon respectively. Guided by the Greencloaks The children set off on a quest to tackle the dark forces that are determined to destroy the world of Erdas.
The concept of spirit animals is based on power animals. According to Wikipedia it is a broadly animistic and shamanic concept that has entered the English language from anthropology, ethnography and sociology. Power animals are common to shamanic practice in both Eurasia and the Americas. They are the helping or ministering spirit or familiar which empowers individuals and is essential for success in any venture undertaken.
In the shamanic worldview, most persons have power animals or tutelary spirits which empower and protect them from harm, like guardian spirits or angels in the Abrahamic traditions. In these traditions, the power animal may also lend the wisdom or attributes of its kind to those under its protection.
Brandon Mull may have borrowed this concept from Shamanism but the story is original. The world of Erdas is created very well. From page one, the reader is immersed in the story. The author is an American writer, a New York Times bestselling author, who firmly believes that “imagination can take you places”. Wild Born is the first of a series planned.
Brandon Mull Spirit Animals: Wild Born ( Book 1) Scholastic Inc., USA, 2013. Hb. pp. 200 Rs. 450