Genres: Middle Grade
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Spirit's Key is a mystery with a bit of magic for fans of Savvy and Because of Winn Dixie.
By now, twelve-year-old Spirit Holden should have inherited the family gift: the ability to see the future. But when she holds a house key in her hand like her dad does to read its owner's destiny, she can’t see anything. Maybe it’s because she can't get over the loss of her beloved dog, Sky, who died mysteriously. Sky was Spirit’s loyal companion, one of the wild dogs that the local islanders believe possess dangerous spirits.
As more dogs start dying and people become sick, too, almost everyone is convinced that these dogs and their spirits are to blame—except for Spirit. Then Sky's ghost appears, and Spirit is shaken. But his help may be the key to unlocking her new power and finding the cause of the mysterious illness before it's too late.
This is…not my typical fare. At least not for this blog. But my youngest has been devouring books lately, and since she’s just turned 8, I still read with her. This one she picked for the cover, but we read this one three times. Usually we each take a chapter and read aloud. With her reading level being fairly high, but the fact that she’s still just 8 years old, it’s hard to find something where the reading level fits her, but it’s not too mature. Enter our local librarian. She is amazing! (shoutout to all librarians!). After Spirit’s Key, she recommended some books for us that would be similar. The next few reviews will be the books my kiddo and I have been reading together. Starting with the book that started it all, Spirit’s Key.
Spirit and her dad moved to Bald Island after her mother died. She found a sick Baldie (the wild dogs on the island) and she and her dad nursed it back to health, named him Sky, and they became best friends. However, this book starts two weeks after Sky has died. Spirit is twelve, and everyone has avoided her for the most part, because the islanders considered Baldies to have “devil spirits.” She doesn’t get it. They’re just animals. They don’t do anything; they just keep to their side of the island. But the islanders treat her as if she’s the crazy one for having a pet dog.
Spirit’s father can see the future.-that’s the main reason they moved to Bald Island. He made his living giving readings, and the islanders with their superstitions made it easier to belong. But his readings aren’t as precise, and he’s not able to “see” as he once did. He thinks that means it’s Spirit’s turn. Once the children in their family turn twelve, the gift usually passes down. So her father is losing his gift as Spirit is gaining hers. But they don’t realize her “gift” is different. She can see not just the ghost of her dead dog, but the ghosts of all the baldies that died recently. The count is up to five. Why are the wild dogs on the island dying? And why is her gift different from her father’s?
Spirit and her one friend Nector have to figure out what’s going on on the island, why the dogs are mysteriously dying, and what happened to her own dog. Is it all connected? Will her gift of seeing the future ever fully manifest?
I wasn’t sure what to think when my daughter checked out this book. I was worried it would be too scary. But this book genre is a Mystery, not a Horror. While yes, the girl sees the ghosts of dead dogs, it’s not scary or creepy. My kiddo really loved it. So much so that we went searching for more books by this author. The book is about 7 years old, and it really feels like the beginning of an amazing series. However, with the exception of a short story written that ties in with this world, but is not about Spirit, there’s nothing else. It’s a shame. We would have read the whole series. Maybe one day the author will pick it back up again. If you enjoy Middle Grade Literature, or have a kiddo who needs something a bit more challenging but isn’t too advanced content-wise, I think this book would be a great one to pick up. As I said, we’ve read it multiple times
My Original Review:
My 7 year old picked this out at the library the other day and started reading on the car ride home. By bedtime she wanted me to read to her, so she and I read this together. This is our longest book, our heaviest book (subject matter, and our first book without at least some pictures. (this took us a week to read).
She liked it! In fact we both liked it so much, we set out to get the next one, but even though this book was written at least 8 years ago, there aren’t any more. This would make the best series!
A 12 year old girl, Spirit, lives on a very tiny island with her dad, and her baldie (a native wild dog). There are several other families there, but we’re talking a population of fewer than 100 so it’s a tiny island. Her father is psychic and gives readings, and she should be gaining her gift in her twelfth year, so she’s ready. But her gift seems to be slightly different.
She sees the ghost of her dog, who had died a couple of weeks before the book started. She is able to communicate in a way with animals. She and her ghost dog are trying to figure out how the dog died, when one day, there are two ghost dogs, then three…
Spirit and her ghost dog are trying to figure out why the baldies keep dying mysteriously, and this is a really great start to what could be a really great series. I hope one day this author chooses to return to the world of Bald Island.
***NOTE: There is a short ebook called Tuckitor’s Last Swim that is about a side character’s ancestor, but it’s not quite what we were hoping for.