Stoneheart Paperback – Sep 20 2007
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A fantastical, fast-paced adventure.―Publishing News
Thrilling stuff.―The Scotsman
An admirable debut.―The Sunday Times
A supernatural thriller with an intriguing premise.―The Mail on Sunday
A highly original page-turner.―The Sunday Times
About the Author
Having studied English Literature at university , Charlie began his career in the film business carrying cans of film round Soho and making very bad cups of tea on the principal that he'd then be asked to do something a bit more interesting, a strategy that he recommends to anyone starting out as a tea-boy. He progressed to the BBC where he worked in film editing on everything from Drama to Current Affairs.
He then went to California where he morphed into a screenwriter, having been awarded a Warner Brothers Fellowship in Screenwriting at USC School of Cinema and TV. He's written screenplays for Tri-Star, MGM, Paramount and Warner Bros among others. He continues to write for the movies, and also television. He still thinks that being a film editor is a pretty damn fine way to learn about story-telling in general, and narrative structure and pacing in particular.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The previous reviewer gives you a plot summary, so I won't go into that, but I will point out that Fletcher has a clean, graceful written voice, and he adds depth to his writing with well-placed metaphors, many of which are refreshingly new. Here is a snatch of description about a statue of the Minotaur: "The shoulders hunched massively below a bull's head topped by aggressively pointing horns; and so well had the sculptor shaped it, that the sound of enraged snorting seemed to lurk about it, even though it never--to the normal eye--moved or breathed at all."
Of course, one of the eerie things about this book is that to the normal eye, the statues of London are NOT coming to life and menacing (or helping) two children. The normal eye doesn't see that the Raven flying overhead isn't flying at a normal speed; instead, it is "flapping unnaturally slowly, lazily defying all laws of gravity and several of the general advisory guidelines of nature as it did so."
When the book begins, George is self-pitying and Edie is cold-hearted; their characters evolve during the course of their adventures, as if Fletcher were undoing a work of dull origami and folding it into a better shape. The other standout character is the Gunner, a statue of a World War I soldier who helps George and Edie survive. Clocker was probably my favorite of the odd, invented characters hanging about the periphery of this tale, but there were others. In general, Fletcher has turned a collection of the actual statuary around London into an astonishing assortment of personalities and monsters.
There are so many nice--and creepy--little touches here, like what the evil Walker does to passing pedestrians as he searches for George, and the Raven's penchant for making a stylish entrance, and the fact that many characters are neither one thing nor the other, but a mix of good and evil, reliability and personal agendas. I also like how Edie's magic isn't an easy or simplistically happy power for her to carry.
Fletcher doesn't settle for predictable answers in his plot, which rides a growing wave of suspense clear up to the last few pages. Then he leaves you wanting more in just the right way--not because he has to sell another book, but because you truly want to see Edie and George take their suddenly bizarre lives to the next level.
I would recommend this book for older children and teens who were comfortable with the level of intensity and darkness in the later Harry Potter books. A very satisfying read!
When George accidentally breaks off a stone dragon's head from a wall in a museum in London, he awakens a terrifying, murderous pterodacyl that chases him through London's streets and -- worst of all -- is invisible to everyone but him and, it seems, a young girl named Edie, a "glint". His life is saved by the Gunner, a statue that is somehow alive in this alternate London he's accidentally fallen into. With the Gunner and Edie he goes to solve the Riddle of the Sphinx and gets some answers, but ends up with an answer that is more riddle than what he first had to solve.
So with time ticking away George and Edie have to navigate this world, full of good statues and bad ("spits" and "taints" to make it easier) and George must sacrifice the stone dragon's head on the Heart of Stone to make this whole nightmare disappear.
But what if the Sphinx's answer was ambiguous...?
This story was, in a word (and a very British one that you're likely to see several times in this novel) brilliant. The writing, though it deteriorated slightly toward the end, was strong, descriptive, exciting, and dramatic. The characters were excellent, especially Edie and George (Edie had all the makings of a "tough-girl you learn to respect and pity because of her traumatic past" in her, but she overcame that and became an excellent character in her own right) though I would have liked a bit more on die's backstory -- her parents (particularly her father) and what had happened to her as a child.
In fact, the only complaint I have against this book is that a book this good surely deserved a better copyeditor. Time after time I would see a quotation mark misplaced or missing, and the same with punctuation. But there were no spelling mistakes as far as I could see, so it really was only those two things. And meticulous copyediting is not the author's job, so you really can't blame Mr. Fletcher for that.
I don't think I've rated a first novel this way since "Fly By Night", but...
Though not as twisted as Gaiman, and lacking the humor of Stroud in The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Stoneheart explores some of the alternate worlds of London through the experiences of twelve year old George Chapman.
George usually keeps to himself, but during a school outing, he gets into trouble (initially) through no fault of his own. However, the trouble really begins when he vents his anger on a stone carving of a dragon on a museum wall.
Little does he know that his small act of vandalism has awakened the statues of London, and soon he's fleeing for his life from formerly inanimate gargoyles and a hungry pterodactyl, and wondering why he's the only one seeing them.
Fortunately for George, not all statues are made of the same stuff, and when one of the good guys shows up in the nick of time, he learns a little more of the predicament he's in. Along the way he meets a girl named Edie, who has been seeing stone people all her life, and together they face an alternate world of sphinxes and dragons, and spits and taints, and glints and weirdies, and things that go bump underground, and much, much worse.
The anticlimactic ending only slightly mars an otherwise enjoyable (albeit a little too long) reading experience, which is good to the penultimate chapter.
Amanda Richards, December 7, 2007
I’m not sure I would have finished Stoneheart if I was actually reading it. The entire 400+ page book takes place in a 24 hour time period. It’s very descriptive. I enjoyed the story but didn’t really connect with the characters until the very end. Stoneheart is the first book in a trilogy. I will probably listen to the other two in the series simply so I can listen to Jim Dale.
If I was only rating the story itself I would only give it 3 or 3.5 stars but the audio version gets 4 stars. Have I mentioned how much I love Jim Dale?
Content: There are a few mild expletives scattered throughout this story.
Rating: 4 Stars – Be sure to listen to the audio version!
Stone Heart is an example of this principle. Not going into too much detail, the book conveys the idea of statues possessing life transferred by their makers, divided into Spits (those based on people and are good) and Taints (Gargoyles, Demons, etc.), with only a few individuals (Glints) able to see them. There's more to the concept of course, but suffice to say, Fletcher's ideas are gold.
The portrayal of these ideas is something else. The writing catches the reader's attention at the beginning and end, but through much of the story it's somewhat lacking in both linkage, momentum, etc. The characters are poorly developed and as it was, I linked more with the statues than the human characters, if only for the fact that they were something out of the ordinary.
Overall it's hard to pass judgment on Stone Heart given the split between idea and execution. Still, I recomend that you read it, if only for the fact that its sequel (Iron Hand) is a far better book, Fletcher having fixed up many of the problems that plagued its predecessor.