Stoneheart by Charlie Fletcher
Publication: Scholastic Audio Books (2007), read by Jim Dale, 9:39:53 long / ISBN 0545003652
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Children’s/YA
Find @ Amazon or paper version @ Amazon
Third audiobook of the year, woohoo! And this one was pretty long, actually. Normally, YA fantasy books clock in around 7 hours (excepting bigguns like Harry Potter or Eragon). This one’s around 9 and a half hours, but it was worth sticking around for.
Summary from Amazon:
On a school trip to the Natural History Museum in London, a 12-year-old loner named George is banished for something he didn’t do. Angry, he lashes out and breaks off a dragon’s head carved onto the wall of the museum. Next thing he knows, a pterodactyl carving comes to life and begins to chase him. From Gunner, a walking, talking statue, George learns that he has entered another layer of reality, and that his arrival has started a new war between good spits (statues that are imbued with a soullike essence by their inspired makers) and evil taints (soulless carvings). With the advice of various spits, and the companionship of a girl named Edie, George seeks answers from two Sphinx statues, whose enigmatic clues lead the pair into a terrifying adventure.
I really enjoyed listening to this. Jim Dale’s an excellent reader– I hadn’t ever listened to anything with him before, so I had no idea! But yeah, I liked that he changed voices for each character (and he’s so good at it!) plus the different accents were done well, too (er, at least to my American ears).
The story itself was a little slow, but at least it was a steady pace. The characters were marvelous, and the plot was full of intrigue and all sorts of exciting things. The moving statues themselves were, of course, one of the most exciting things, but I also enjoyed getting a little tour around London. While fearing for various characters’ lives, of course.
I did like the characters, even the scary, mean ones. I loved how George grew as a person (even though the Gunner has to give a big speech about it just to drive the point home. Unnecessary! I could see he changed for the better myself, y’know.) and how Edie changed for the better, too. I loved the Gunner especially, but also the Clocker and even the Sphinxes were somewhat likable (though annoyingly vague). The more human villains weren’t particularly threatening, at least not until the end, but the taint-villains were seriously creepy. Probably it was more because they were everywhere and could potentially attack at any moment, while the more human villains were left to futile plotting and snide remarks. But those taints– gah, so creepy.
The action sequences were both exciting and dramatic, while not getting bogged down by too many details. The ending was exceptionally well done: a cliffhanger, but it left me excited for the next book rather than annoyed at not getting a decent resolution. Can’t wait to read Ironhand!