So when he takes his place at Fairmount Academy, it's something he tries to keep secret. After all, how is he going to win a place on the school Scavage team if everyone knows he has no Animas? His friend Hal (Animas Bat) knows Bailey's secret, but his other friends — Phi (Animas Falcon) and Tori (Animas Snake) — only suspect what might lie at the heart of Bailey's insecurities.
Bailey soon has bigger things to worry about than fitting in at school, however, as he finds himself embroiled in events that have the potential to destroy Aldermere. Viviana — the ruthless daughter of the much-loved former king, Melore — seeks to take back power from the Parliament and subvert the Animas bond between human and animal forever. If Viviana has her way, animals will become mere slaves to humans, rather than their partners, and the relationship will change from one of mutual love and respect to one of brutal dominance.
Together with Hal, Phi and Tori, as well as a young girl named Gwen (Animas Owl), who is driven to find Bailey after learning about an exceptional child who will help the True King return to Aldermere, Bailey must unlock the secrets of the Dark Woods and fulfil his destiny. Along the way, he might just discover he has an Animas after all.
While the setting of best friends fighting evil in a school setting isn't exactly unfamiliar, I enjoyed the way the various human characters engaged with their Animas, giving them an added depth and complexity that was entirely believable. This is a good start to a new fantasy series that I will follow with interest.
Title: Legacy of the Claw (Animas #1)
Author: C.R. Grey
Publisher: Hot Key Books, $14.95 RRP
Publication Date: November 2014
For ages: 9+
Type: Middle Fiction