Fletcher - Book Reviews

***** - Excellent
**** - Good
*** - Okay
** - Bad
* - Terrible
+ - Half-star

Stoneheart
(The Stoneheart trilogy, Book 1)
Charlie Fletcher
Hyperion DBG
Fiction, YA Fantasy
****

DESCRIPTION: George never meant to start it. He never meant to take his anger out on the side of the museum. He never meant to break the stone dragon carved there. And he certainly never meant to rouse the anger of the taints: the carved stone beasts of London, created to terrify all who gaze upon them, that live on a layer of existence beyond what most men and women can see. But he did, and now he finds himself plunged into a world of living statues and ancient darkness, a world shared by evil taints, sometimes- benevolent spits - bronze statues and the like, who have the souls their Makers gave them, unlike the ever-hungry emptiness within the taints - and the strangely gifted girl Edie, whose anger rivals his own. He can only escape by solving a maddening riddle from a pair of Sphynxes in downtown London. As he dodges angry taints and struggles to unravel the riddle, George realizes that, just as London apparently has many layers beyond the one he had lived in for twelve years, that his own journey has deeper and darker meanings... and consequences.

REVIEW: The dragon books on the shelves started looking a bit similar (honestly, do we need yet another story about an orphan who finds a dragon egg?), so I found myself drawn to this one. It has vague shades of other "worlds within worlds" tales such as Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, where it is possible to have grandiose, mythic encounters within a densely populated urban area and without any "normal" people (read: extras) noticing the epic battles in their very midsts. Fletcher introduces and explores some original territory. While re-imagining London as a home of man-made creatures, the author explores the ideas of creation and destruction. and what century upon century of Man making and destroying things can build up in a city, especially a city as old as London. Somehow, he does all this without stopping the narrative cold: George's story starts moving almost from the first page, and the boy hardly has a moment of peace afterwards. George and Edie both have plenty of anger and pain in them - once in a while I felt like smacking them when they spent more time being obtuse and angry than dealing with their perilous predicaments - but for the most part I liked them. Of course, being the first part of a trilogy, the story arc is not entirely resolved, but a fair bit of it wraps up by the last page, making the wait for the next book somewhat more bearable. I do wish I hadn't stumbled across it until the next two volumes are available, though; bearable or not, waiting for sequels can be tedious.

You might also enjoy:
Eve & Adam (Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant, YA Fiction - A teen girl discovers dark secrets at her mother's medical research lab)
A Hollow World: Down the Rabbit Hole (R. G. Beckwith, Fiction - A young scientist, fresh out of college, joins a government team investigating a mysterious hole in Greenland)
Plain Kate (Erin Bow, YA Fiction - In a superstitious land, a girl sells her shadow to a witch for safety, then must win it back)
Running with the Demon (Terry Brooks, Fiction - A girl fights a dark evil lurking in the local park)
Night of the Gargoyles (Eve Bunting, YA Picture Book - By night, the city's gargoyles come to life)
Breaking Deluce (Chad Campbell, YA Fiction - A teen girl finds herself hunted for powers she doesn't know she possesses)
The Artemis Fowl series (Eoin Colfer, YA Fiction - A young criminal mastermind pits his wits against the entire Fairy nation)
The Supernaturalist (Eoin Colfer, YA Fiction - In the near future, a boy's brush with death grants him the ability to see invisible parasites)
Clockwork Kingdom (Leah R. Cutter, YA Fiction - Modern twins are lured into the schemes of a dangerous fairy queen)
The Very Best of Charles de Lint (Charles de Lint, Fiction - Collected stories of magic old and new by the noted fantasy author)
The Spiderwick Chronicles (Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, YA Fiction - Three siblings find a field guide to the invisible magical world around them)
The Fire Within (Chris D'Lacey, YA Fiction - A college student receives a ceramic dragon which seems to come alive in his mind)
The Inkheart trilogy (Cornelia Funke, YA Fiction - A girl's father can read things out of stories... and read people into story worlds)
The Thief Lord (Cornelia Funke, YA Fiction - Two orphaned runaways in Venice become part of a race to find a magical wooden wing)
Neverwhere (Neil Gaiman, Fiction - A London man is pulled into the invisible underground world of LondonBelow)
The Paper Magician (Charlie N. Holmberg, YA Fiction - In an alternate London, an apprentice Folder must use her paper-enchanting skills to save her master's life)
Teller (Chris Howard, YA Fiction - A teen boy learns he can manipulate reality with stories and paintings)
The Book of Story Beginnings (Kristin Kladstrup, YA Fiction - Writing stories in a special journal makes them spring to life)
George Grove and the Dragon (LJ Lawry, YA Ficton - Three South London boys find a dragon's egg)
The Unwanteds (Lisa McMann, YA fiction - A brutal dictatorship culls creative teens, who find refuge in a hidden magical sanctuary)
Un Lun Dun (China Miéville, YA Fiction - Two girls find themselves in the surreal "abcity" mirror of London)
The Water Mirror (Kai Meyer, YA Fiction - An orphan girl lives in an alternate-reality Venice, with magical mirrors and living stone lions)
The Fablehaven series (Brandon Mull, YA Fiction - Two kids discover a magical sanctuary on their grandparents' farm)
Griffin's Castle (Jenny Nimmo, YA Fiction - A lonely girl summons stone guardians to help protect herself and her home)
Mystics #1: The Seventh Sense (Kim Richardson, YA Fiction - An orphan girl can see invisible monsters, some of whom seem to be hunting her down)
Percy Jackson & the Olympians series (Rick Riordan, YA Fiction - A boy discovers that Greek gods and monsters still exist in the modern world)
Guardians Inc.: The Cypher (Julian Rosado-Machain, YA Fiction - Able to understand any written language, a boy is recruited by a secret organization to help save the world)
The Harry Potter series (J. K. Rowling, YA Fiction - A boy learns of the hidden Wizarding world when he discovers that he is a wizard)
Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians (Brandon Sanderson, YA Fiction - A boy discovers that the true nature of the world has been kept hidden by an insidious cult of evil librarians)
The Rithmatist (Brandon Sanderson, YA Fiction - In a world where gifted Rithmatists infuse chalk lines with power, an ungifted academy boy is drawn into danger when students begin vanishing)
Warbreaker (Brandon Sanderson, Fiction - A world of Returned immortals and powerful BioChroma magic stands on the brink of devastating war)
The Alchemyst (Michael Scott, YA Fiction - Modern American twins are pulled into a magical struggle involving godlike Elders, monsters, and immortal mages)
The Rhyme of the Willow series (Justin Sullivan and Samuel Sullivan, YA Fiction - Following a vivid dream, twins find themselves pulled into a dark world where plants run amok)
Behind the Canvas (Alexander Vance, YA Fiction - A girl discovers a magical world composed of oil paintings)
The Wretched of Muirwood (Jeff Wheeler, YA Fiction - An orphan girl, living at a magical abbey where gargoyles channel power, becomes entangled in world-changing events)

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Ironhand
(The Stoneheart trilogy, Book 2)
Charlie Fletcher
Hyperion DBG
Fiction, YA Fantasy
****

DESCRIPTION: George, the London boy who awoke the wrath of the city's gargoyles and other soulless "taints" by breaking a stone dragon, faced a choice: take the easy way out and return to his normal life, abandoning the "unLondon" of living statues and cursed immortals, or stick it out with his new friends - the Gunner, living statue of a World War I soldier, and Edie, the hard-living "glint" who can see the secrets remembered by stone - and see how hard the Hard Way is. Choosing the latter seemed like a good idea at the time, but it isn't long before George sees just how much more trouble he's in for. With the Gunner abducted by the dark Walker, Edie and George have to find him before midnight, for if the Gunner isn't back on his plinth by the turning of the day, he'll die. But finding the Walker may mean death for them, too... especially if the foul, eternally-cursed man gets his hands on them. The Walker has waited centuries for a boy like George and a girl like Edie; with them, he might not only be able to break the curse that binds him to the Stone at the heart of the city. In freeing himself, he might unleash a force upon the world that no living thing could survive.

REVIEW: Just like the first book, Ironhand picks up on the first page and doesn't stop until the last. George and Edie discover more friends and enemies - and a few characters who seem to be both at once - as they delve further into the shadows beneath London's mundane surface. If once in a while it felt like Fletcher drew things out to avoid advancing the plot, well, I was mostly happy enough with his story to wait him out. I enjoyed it greatly, and am only sorry I have to wait for the third book to come out.

You might also enjoy:
Eve & Adam (Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant, YA Fiction - A teen girl discovers dark secrets at her mother's medical research lab)
A Hollow World: Down the Rabbit Hole (R. G. Beckwith, Fiction - A young scientist, fresh out of college, joins a government team investigating a mysterious hole in Greenland)
Plain Kate (Erin Bow, YA Fiction - In a superstitious land, a girl sells her shadow to a witch for safety, then must win it back)
Running with the Demon (Terry Brooks, Fiction - A girl fights a dark evil lurking in the local park)
Night of the Gargoyles (Eve Bunting, YA Picture Book - By night, the city's gargoyles come to life)
Breaking Deluce (Chad Campbell, YA Fiction - A teen girl finds herself hunted for powers she doesn't know she possesses)
The Artemis Fowl series (Eoin Colfer, YA Fiction - A young criminal mastermind pits his wits against the entire Fairy nation)
The Supernaturalist (Eoin Colfer, YA Fiction - In the near future, a boy's brush with death grants him the ability to see invisible parasites)
Clockwork Kingdom (Leah R. Cutter, YA Fiction - Modern twins are lured into the schemes of a dangerous fairy queen)
The Very Best of Charles de Lint (Charles de Lint, Fiction - Collected stories of magic old and new by the noted fantasy author)
The Spiderwick Chronicles (Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, YA Fiction - Three siblings find a field guide to the invisible magical world around them)
The Fire Within (Chris D'Lacey, YA Fiction - A college student receives a ceramic dragon which seems to come alive in his mind)
The Inkheart trilogy (Cornelia Funke, YA Fiction - A girl's father can read things out of stories... and read people into story worlds)
The Thief Lord (Cornelia Funke, YA Fiction - Two orphaned runaways in Venice become part of a race to find a magical wooden wing)
Neverwhere (Neil Gaiman, Fiction - A London man is pulled into the invisible underground world of LondonBelow)
The Paper Magician (Charlie N. Holmberg, YA Fiction - In an alternate London, an apprentice Folder must use her paper-enchanting skills to save her master's life)
Teller (Chris Howard, YA Fiction - A teen boy learns he can manipulate reality with stories and paintings)
The Book of Story Beginnings (Kristin Kladstrup, YA Fiction - Writing stories in a special journal makes them spring to life)
George Grove and the Dragon (LJ Lawry, YA Ficton - Three South London boys find a dragon's egg)
The Unwanteds (Lisa McMann, YA fiction - A brutal dictatorship culls creative teens, who find refuge in a hidden magical sanctuary)
Un Lun Dun (China Miéville, YA Fiction - Two girls find themselves in the surreal "abcity" mirror of London)
The Water Mirror (Kai Meyer, YA Fiction - An orphan girl lives in an alternate-reality Venice, with magical mirrors and living stone lions)
The Fablehaven series (Brandon Mull, YA Fiction - Two kids discover a magical sanctuary on their grandparents' farm)
Griffin's Castle (Jenny Nimmo, YA Fiction - A lonely girl summons stone guardians to help protect herself and her home)
Mystics #1: The Seventh Sense (Kim Richardson, YA Fiction - An orphan girl can see invisible monsters, some of whom seem to be hunting her down)
Percy Jackson & the Olympians series (Rick Riordan, YA Fiction - A boy discovers that Greek gods and monsters still exist in the modern world)
Guardians Inc.: The Cypher (Julian Rosado-Machain, YA Fiction - Able to understand any written language, a boy is recruited by a secret organization to help save the world)
The Harry Potter series (J. K. Rowling, YA Fiction - A boy learns of the hidden Wizarding world when he discovers that he is a wizard)
Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians (Brandon Sanderson, YA Fiction - A boy discovers that the true nature of the world has been kept hidden by an insidious cult of evil librarians)
The Rithmatist (Brandon Sanderson, YA Fiction - In a world where gifted Rithmatists infuse chalk lines with power, an ungifted academy boy is drawn into danger when students begin vanishing)
Warbreaker (Brandon Sanderson, Fiction - A world of Returned immortals and powerful BioChroma magic stands on the brink of devastating war)
The Alchemyst (Michael Scott, YA Fiction - Modern American twins are pulled into a magical struggle involving godlike Elders, monsters, and immortal mages)
The Rhyme of the Willow series (Justin Sullivan and Samuel Sullivan, YA Fiction - Following a vivid dream, twins find themselves pulled into a dark world where plants run amok)
Behind the Canvas (Alexander Vance, YA Fiction - A girl discovers a magical world composed of oil paintings)
The Wretched of Muirwood (Jeff Wheeler, YA Fiction - An orphan girl, living at a magical abbey where gargoyles channel power, becomes entangled in world-changing events)


Silvertongue
(The Stoneheart trilogy, Book 3)
Charlie Fletcher
Hyperion DBG
Fiction, YA Fantasy
****

DESCRIPTION: The thirteenth hour has struck, and all across London the people vanish as time without time takes hold. Only the spits - living statues on the side of good - and the taints - grotesques and gargoyles working with darkness - and the cursed immortals remain... aside from George and Edie. When their enemy, the Walker, escaped through twin mirrors into the outer darkness, an evil entity was displaced into London. The Ice Devil wastes no time in allying itself with the restless force trapped in the London Stone at the heart of the city; together, they might be victorious, but first they must crush the upstart young maker George and his glint companion, Edie.
As spit and taint prepare for the final battle, George awaits the final of the three duels he must fight. Edie, returned from Death itself, has her own quest to follow: during her entrapment by the Walker, she found her mother's heart stone, and the dim glimmer of light within tells her that perhaps her mom is still alive.

REVIEW: This book starts fast... so fast, in fact, that I strongly suspect that it was never intended to be its own book, but an extension of the previous installment (Ironhand.) Fletcher doesn't slow down for recaps or refreshers, plunging straight ahead as though there hadn't been a year-odd gap since the previous book's release. It took me some time to catch up on the fly, but I finally got my bearings. George and Edie both learn important lessons on their separate quests, and come together for a great, tense, and action-filled finale. There's just a teaser of potential for sequels at the end. On the whole, I enjoyed Fletcher's trilogy. I wouldn't mind reading more from the same author, with or without George and Edie.

You might also enjoy:
Eve & Adam (Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant, YA Fiction - A teen girl discovers dark secrets at her mother's medical research lab)
A Hollow World: Down the Rabbit Hole (R. G. Beckwith, Fiction - A young scientist, fresh out of college, joins a government team investigating a mysterious hole in Greenland)
Plain Kate (Erin Bow, YA Fiction - In a superstitious land, a girl sells her shadow to a witch for safety, then must win it back)
Running with the Demon (Terry Brooks, Fiction - A girl fights a dark evil lurking in the local park)
Night of the Gargoyles (Eve Bunting, YA Picture Book - By night, the city's gargoyles come to life)
Breaking Deluce (Chad Campbell, YA Fiction - A teen girl finds herself hunted for powers she doesn't know she possesses)
The Artemis Fowl series (Eoin Colfer, YA Fiction - A young criminal mastermind pits his wits against the entire Fairy nation)
The Supernaturalist (Eoin Colfer, YA Fiction - In the near future, a boy's brush with death grants him the ability to see invisible parasites)
Clockwork Kingdom (Leah R. Cutter, YA Fiction - Modern twins are lured into the schemes of a dangerous fairy queen)
The Very Best of Charles de Lint (Charles de Lint, Fiction - Collected stories of magic old and new by the noted fantasy author)
The Spiderwick Chronicles (Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, YA Fiction - Three siblings find a field guide to the invisible magical world around them)
The Fire Within (Chris D'Lacey, YA Fiction - A college student receives a ceramic dragon which seems to come alive in his mind)
The Inkheart trilogy (Cornelia Funke, YA Fiction - A girl's father can read things out of stories... and read people into story worlds)
The Thief Lord (Cornelia Funke, YA Fiction - Two orphaned runaways in Venice become part of a race to find a magical wooden wing)
Neverwhere (Neil Gaiman, Fiction - A London man is pulled into the invisible underground world of LondonBelow)
The Paper Magician (Charlie N. Holmberg, YA Fiction - In an alternate London, an apprentice Folder must use her paper-enchanting skills to save her master's life)
Teller (Chris Howard, YA Fiction - A teen boy learns he can manipulate reality with stories and paintings)
The Book of Story Beginnings (Kristin Kladstrup, YA Fiction - Writing stories in a special journal makes them spring to life)
George Grove and the Dragon (LJ Lawry, YA Ficton - Three South London boys find a dragon's egg)
The Unwanteds (Lisa McMann, YA fiction - A brutal dictatorship culls creative teens, who find refuge in a hidden magical sanctuary)
Un Lun Dun (China Miéville, YA Fiction - Two girls find themselves in the surreal "abcity" mirror of London)
The Water Mirror (Kai Meyer, YA Fiction - An orphan girl lives in an alternate-reality Venice, with magical mirrors and living stone lions)
The Fablehaven series (Brandon Mull, YA Fiction - Two kids discover a magical sanctuary on their grandparents' farm)
Griffin's Castle (Jenny Nimmo, YA Fiction - A lonely girl summons stone guardians to help protect herself and her home)
Mystics #1: The Seventh Sense (Kim Richardson, YA Fiction - An orphan girl can see invisible monsters, some of whom seem to be hunting her down)
Percy Jackson & the Olympians series (Rick Riordan, YA Fiction - A boy discovers that Greek gods and monsters still exist in the modern world)
Guardians Inc.: The Cypher (Julian Rosado-Machain, YA Fiction - Able to understand any written language, a boy is recruited by a secret organization to help save the world)
The Harry Potter series (J. K. Rowling, YA Fiction - A boy learns of the hidden Wizarding world when he discovers that he is a wizard)
Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians (Brandon Sanderson, YA Fiction - A boy discovers that the true nature of the world has been kept hidden by an insidious cult of evil librarians)
The Rithmatist (Brandon Sanderson, YA Fiction - In a world where gifted Rithmatists infuse chalk lines with power, an ungifted academy boy is drawn into danger when students begin vanishing)
Warbreaker (Brandon Sanderson, Fiction - A world of Returned immortals and powerful BioChroma magic stands on the brink of devastating war)
The Alchemyst (Michael Scott, YA Fiction - Modern American twins are pulled into a magical struggle involving godlike Elders, monsters, and immortal mages)
The Rhyme of the Willow series (Justin Sullivan and Samuel Sullivan, YA Fiction - Following a vivid dream, twins find themselves pulled into a dark world where plants run amok)
Behind the Canvas (Alexander Vance, YA Fiction - A girl discovers a magical world composed of oil paintings)
The Wretched of Muirwood (Jeff Wheeler, YA Fiction - An orphan girl, living at a magical abbey where gargoyles channel power, becomes entangled in world-changing events)

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