Review: ‘In Stone’ by Louise D. GornallPosted: January 12, 2014
Beau Bailey is suffering from a post-break-up meltdown when she happens across a knife in her local park and takes it home. Less than a week later, the new boy in school has her trapped in an alley; he’s sprouted horns and is going to kill Beau unless she hands over the knife.
Until Eighteenth-century gargoyle, Jack, shows up to save her.
Jack has woken from a century-long slumber to tell Beau that she’s unwittingly been drafted into a power struggle between two immortal races: Demons and Gargoyles. The knife is the only one in existence capable of killing immortals and they’ll tear the world apart to get it back. To draw the warring immortals away from her home, Beau goes with Jack in search of the mind-bending realm known as the Underworld, a place where they’ll hopefully be able to destroy the knife and prevent all hell from breaking loose. That is, provided they can outrun the demons chasing them.
From the opening paragraphs, I loved In Stone. Beau’s voice shines from the beginning. Even crying over her broken heart in the park, her sass came through. I wanted to take her home, make her a hot chocolate and watch chick flicks with her. Which is saying a lot, because I NEVER watch chick flicks.
But then, I suspect neither does Beau. She’s a little bit goth, without pigeonholing herself as a goth. Her best friend is a little bit punk. They are the teenage girls I wish I’d had the courage to be.
I devoured In Stone in a few days. The pacing of the story is very well handled, pulling you along with the action, but with enough moments for self-reflection that it doesn’t feel rushed. You may see one of the plot twists in the last few chapters coming (although I didn’t), but probably not the rest.
Another plus for me: the book is an urban fantasy rather than a paranormal romance—there is a romantic element there, but it’s not an insta-love plot. Beau’s life doesn’t suddenly revolve around Jack; there is tension there, but it’s a slowly blossoming flower. Her independence is one of the things I loved about her.
The knife Beau and Jack set out to destroy is a bit like the One Ring from Lord of the Rings. Whoever wields it gains the power of life and death over previously immortal creatures. Both the demons and the gargoyles (who are ostensibly the good guys) would love to get hold of it, to tip the war in their favour. But even previously sane gargoyles who pick up the knife go all nutty bananas, turning into power-hungry maniacs. Beau, as a human, seems unaffected—which is why Jack needs her to come with him on his quest to destroy the knife.
All of that said, while I noticed the comparison, the book didn’t feel derivative. It stands as its own story.
One last thing: In Stone was released by Entranced Publishing. It’s a good example of a high-quality work by a small press. I’m the world’s biggest grammar nitpicker, and I didn’t notice any editing errors in the book.
I’m definitely looking forward to the sequel. Five stars!