Review Detail

Uniting unlikely allies
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
What worked:
This book is the third in the series (I’ve not read the previous two) and it’s clear a lot has happened already. However, I don’t feel lost in the story and it’s easy to grasp what’s going on. A giant snake called Grandmother is amassing an army of gorillas, snakes, and crocodiles and is making plans to converge on the animals living on the plains. She uses snake venom to control the minds of her followers but she’s unaware that a leopard has infiltrated her ranks, hoping to discover Grandmother’s plot. The animals of the plains are mourning the death of their Great Father and they’re awaiting the Great Spirit’s choice for the next Great Parent. A gazelle named Prance eventually realizes she’s been chosen as the Great Mother but is she prepared to lead the baboons, elephants, birds, and others in the upcoming war?
Much of the plot follows Prance and Grandmother which is appropriate since they’re the leaders of the two opposing forces. As the Great Mother, Prance is able to understand and speak all the various animal languages and can use her shadow form to quickly travel across the plains. Readers will appreciate the animals’ dialogue is written in “normal” English and isn’t presented in a broken or animalish dialect. The author makes Grandmother a mysterious character as she hides in darkness and strikes fear from the shadows. She’s not seen in the early chapters but the effects of her terror are felt by her followers and foes.
The main plot pits Grandmother against the plains animals but there are few subplots to add interest. Gorillas named Bramble and Moonflower are forced to face their infected ancestors, including their father. A lion named Gallant is angry that his son was stolen by Menace and he asks the Great Mother for assistance. Chase is the leopard spying on Grandmother but she’s constantly terrified of being discovered and she fears for the safety of her mate and son. Grandmother’s spreading control creates uncertainty between families and species and it seems her power is ever-increasing. Will she eventually grow so large that it will be impossible to stop her?
What didn’t work as well:
The cast of characters includes many different animals, with different names to remember, and the plot is told from various points of view. For these reasons, the early chapters of the book are a bit confusing, although the story becomes clearer as readers get used to the style. It may take a moment to recall characters and their species after taking breaks between readings.
The Final Verdict:
I don’t normally read books with this many animal characters but the author creates interesting conflicts and relationships to make this book very entertaining. The problems develop tension and the plot builds to an exciting climax. I recommend you give it a shot.
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