Kate Thompson's Switchers trilogy has delighted young readers of science fiction and fantasy. In Wild Blood (Ages 10 and up), the final installment, Tess's 15th birthday is fast approaching, and she is struggling with which form she will take upon her final Switch. To make matters worse, she will be spending her birthday with her cross uncle, meek aunt, and young cousins. Tess's friend Kevin manages to arrive at her uncle's farm in time for the big day. Unfortunately, due to an unexpected incident that leaves Uncle Maurice angry with her, Tess has failed to mention Kevin's arrival. Posed as a rat exterminator, Kevin earns the respect of the farmer and his wife by driving away Pied-piper style the rodents who have overtaken the farm.

Factored into Tess's spinning story are her sickly cousin Orla's preoccupation with fairies, the mysterious woods that houses more than trees, and the even more mysterious story of Uncle Declan, Maurice's twin brother . . . or not? As Tess's birthday draws near, her life fills with more questions than answers: Why does she have recurring dreams about rats? Why is there a cat lurking about the farm? Why does it seem that Kevin, well past his 15th birthday, can still Switch? And was there an Uncle Declan or not? Thompson's bizarre Irish tale is ripe for follow-up discussions on perception versus reality, and makes a wonderful study in the literary devices of irony, symbolism, and suspense. The book is swirling with theme, and recommended for children ages 10 and up; however, older students should be challenged to determine who is truly good, who is truly evil, and why. Students would benefit from reading the entire trilogy, but Thompson fleshes out enough details that Wild Blood can stand on its own.

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