The evil wizard Malvel has committed his worst crime yet--kidnapping Tom’s uncle and aunt. But before Tom can rescue them, he must endure the toughest chapter of his Quest so far. He must face a Beast the likes of which he has never seen: Spiros the Ghost Phoenix.
Tom’s journey will lead him to an unimaginable place--without the help of his animal companions Storm or Silver. Does Tom have the courage to save his uncle and aunt before it’s too late?
Alrighty... I'm going to say upfront that by this point in the series, I officially hate Beast Quest. (For some insight into why, you can check out my other Beast Quest reviews here.) I intend to read to the end of The Dark Realm because that's what my library has in stock; after that, I'm finished and will likely never return to the series. I simply don't care where Tom's quests take him anymore; these books are just too beneath my expectations for me to waste any more time on them than that. That aside, on to my Spiros review.
The summary includes a ludicrous inaccuracy. "He must face a Beast the likes of which he has never seen: Spiros the Ghost Phoenix," it reads, but that's 100% false. Spiros the Ghost Phoenix is Tom's ally in the fight against Nawdren the Black Phoenix. He doesn't "face" Spiros; they team up.
To a lesser extent, the text itself contains what might not "technically" be an inaccuracy, but I'm definitely reading it as one. This special occurs after The Golden Armor, the second sub-series of the Beast Quest series, in which Tom faces six Beasts created by the antagonist; previously, he faced six Beasts that were supposed to be Guardians of Avantia but were enslaved by Malvel. Apparently there's supposed to be some kind of grand distinction between these two sets of Beasts, because in Spiros, Tom states "I didn't know there were any other Beasts", meaning that he didn't know there were more than the original six: Ferno, Sepron, Cypher, Tagus, Tartok, and Epos. Except, you know, he fought an additional six in the previous book, so it's established that
Nonsense and inaccuracies out of the way, the female characters are pathetic. Elenna, the only recurring female character until this point, is continuously praised for helping uber-competent Tom (seriously, he can recklessly lob a sword through the air in the direction of his own friends and family, and his aim will be magically perfect, in spite of the fact that he's a preteen and shouldn't even be able to lift a full-sized sword yet), but she never actually does anything other than get in trouble. (Faux action girl is faux!)
In Spiros, a new female character is introduced. I don't believe she reappears in The Dark Realm, so perhaps she isn't recurring... but she certainly is pathetic. A young girl, at first unnamed, is introduced, and she turns out to be the sister of Seth, the villain introduced in the previous special. She's also a villain, and, to prove that her character is absolutely nothing more than a mini-Seth knock-off, she's named Sethrina. I can't even.
Other than that, it's just your typical Beast Quest battle nonsense. Tom uses the Beasts as his own personal Pokemon team, defeats the villainous Beast without Elenna or his wizard mentor friend doing anything helpful, and then he heaps praise on Elenna because she's such a strong female character or something. I don't really care. It's just laughably childish nonsense, both mindbogglingly repetitive and too simple to actually enjoy, and I'm a tad insulted on behalf of the audience. Seriously, compare the writing quality of this supposedly RL3 book to other popular books among kids eight and older: Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Holes, etcetera. Even the original seven Deltora Quest books, which are similar in length to these Beast Quest stories, are much more intelligently written with actually strong characters and insanely superior world-building.
Seriously, if you're thinking about picking these up for your little boy or girl, I really highly suggest trying Deltora Quest instead. Beast Quest pales in comparison to Emily Rodda's series to the point of being damn near translucent.