Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Shifting Shadows

Hunter, Erin. Shifting Shadows (Bravelands #4)
May 7th 2019 by HarperCollins
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Ever since the death of Stinger, things have gotten worse in the Bravelands. Thorn is under constant pressure to become the leader of his tribe, even though he doesn't feel ready. Sky no longer has the Great Spirit within her, but something calls her to not travel with her group, and she finds the two young cheetah cubs of Rush, who was killed. She wants to be with Rock, but the male elephants are supposed to band together. The lions are also unsettled, and the fact that animals keep showing up dead, with just their hearts ripped out, means that something evil is preying on all of the animals. Thorn continues to struggle with his leadership role, and when he is attacked and taken away to recuperate, Berry runs for election and is chosen Crownleaf. A tribeless baboon named Spider appears on the scene; he is very unsettled, and does not help the circumstances for the baboons. Sky runs into Rock, and he professes his love for her, and they commit to each other. Unfortunately, bitter news from his tribe makes Sky leave him, and she and the cheetah cubs fend for themselves. Eventually, we find out a little about the growing threat to all the animals, and it will take at least one more book to get everyone settled!

This was an extremely blood thirsty book, with a lot of animal deaths. I know that Warriors book involve a lot of battles, and not everyone survives, but this had a bit of a feel of a serial murderer stalking the Bravelands. Fans might enjoy this, but I read this with a look of terror on my face!

The world building is exquisite as always, and the personalities of dozens and dozens of animals are all well drawn. Thorn's angst gets to be a bit repetitive, but he really wants to do what is best for his tribe and for Bravelands; that's a big responsibility, so it deserves adequate exploration. Sky also has a lot on her plate, and it's interesting to see that the cubs' aunt wouldn't take care of them, but Sky was very accepting of falling into the caretaker role.

Readers who like books about animals who have well established tribes and territorial wars frequently only want to read similar books, and Bravelands is an interesting series because it involves a variety of animals, making it a little easier to tell the characters apart (unlike Warriors, where all the characters are cats with similar names!). I can't think of too many books set on the African plains, making Bravelands an intriguing choice for children who couldn't get enough of The Lion King and want to transfer their love of that film to literature.

Ms. Yingling

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