Spirit Animals: Against the Tide by Tui T. Sutherland
Scholastic, 2014. ISBN 9781743620021
This is book five of the Spirit Animals series and, as there are only a few books left, the plot thickens as the 'mole' is revealed and we gain some sense of the deadly, ambitious Gerathon and meet Kovo the giant gorilla, fellow conspirator in the conquest of Erdas.
The four heroes and Tarik, The Greencloak, are sailing towards the Hundred Isles to find Mulop the octopus, the only one of the great beasts to be keen to meet with our heroes as indicated by Conor's dreams. There is suspicion and distrust amongst the youngsters as they contemplate who the traitor amongst them could be. However the appearance of the Conqueror's fleet and giant sharks, which attack the whales towing the boat just as the islands come into view, forces them to focus on survival assisted by Kalani, Queen of the Hundred Isles, and her aquatic friends.
To meet Mulop they need to overcome some major obstacles, both mental and physical, evade the Conquerors, and find the reclusive octopus. No mean feat for a group of children with or without their guide and mentor, Tarik. The revelation of exactly who the traitor is and why they have been aligned with the enemy will come as a surprise to fans of the series as will the events that follow.
The setting in such an island paradise and the gentleness and good will of Kalani and her people, the quirky wise man Tangaroa and his orang-utan not to mention the refreshingly gentle, questioning and helpful Mulop, give some respite from the always aggressive enemy and their animals. They also bring a bit of light into what is becoming an increasingly dark story that could deter some readers from continuing to follow the series.
I look forward to the final two books as I am starting to view all animals with suspicion these days and am especially wary at the beach, after Conor's experience with a random malevolent seagull.