BLOOD TIES (Spirit Animals, #3) by Garth Nix

Sometimes there is something in this vast universe that testifies to a human that they are understood, or that a piece of what is inside is also inside another, or something reflects oneself in such a grounding way that a human feels for an instant that they are known. These books take a deep, human longing and bring it into story.

It is a brilliant premise, this spirit animal, and I love to hear my kids talk about these characters and their struggles. I love that these books witness not just the connection and belonging of connecting with a spirit animal but also the struggle of maturing, the limitations of experience, and the humility learned through mistakes.

My kids read these Spirit Animals books repeatedly, and I finally listened to a couple as we drove around North Carolina. They are short, action-packed fantasy novels focusing on friendship and inner struggles in a world of magic, betrayal, and kindness. The characters are from disparate backgrounds and I appreciate the traveling and cultural aspects of these novels.