International Writers Magazine:
Children's Books Review
By Charlie Fletcher.
Hodder Childrens Books £5.99
Alana Hebenton review
Twelve year old outsider George is on what he thinks is just another
boring school trip to the Natural History Museum, when his world
gets flipped upside down and his life is transformed forever.
After being punished
for yet another thing he didnt do, George breaks the head off
a dragon museum monument by punching it in a frustrated rage. Next thing
George knows he is being chased by a pterodactyl carving and he has
entered another realm where statues come to life.
Escaping the pterodactyl
George then meets a Spit, a living statue of a person they
memorise, known as the Gunner. The Gunner reveals
to George that he is now in Un-London another world within
London, where there is currently a war between the Spits
and the Taints, evil soulless statues of gargoyles and dragons.
George is then introduced to the Glint, a person, who can
see the Spits and Taints of Un-London
and read the history of any stone they touch, in the form of a twelve
year old homeless orphan girl Eddie. With Eddie and the Gunners
help, George starts his twenty four hour frenzied adventure of Un-London.
Amongst the madness George finds answers from talking Sphinxes, whilst
trying to escape death from flying gargoyles and dragons.
Charlie Fletcher, like JK Rowling, manages to create a captivating land
of fantasy within the everyday world of grimy London, using realistic
explanations that keep the reader engaged. Charlie Fletcher also manages
not to patronise his audience by presenting relatable endearing characters
that have gritty back stories. His use of authentic dialogue also adds
to believable feel of the characters. These features, along with the
books movie like style, by way of its dramatic fight scenes and
suspense filled chases, allow the reader to easily imagine the book
on the big screen packed with special effects.
Charlie Fletcher also writes a book that can be enjoyed not only by
children, who will love the books fantasy world of dragons and
gargoyles, but by teens and older audiences, who will relate to the
characters other struggles. This is because although Charlie Fletchers
Stone Heart is great simply on the surface as an intricate action
filled novel, it also deals with the much deeper and darker issues of
abandonment and isolation that the characters are experiencing in their
real lives. Both problems that older readers will be able
to share with the characters. This can be seen from the way in which
fighting against dragons and gargoyles is not all that twelve year old
George and Eddie have in common, as both feel alone in the hard city
of London. George as he is a bullied outsider with a non-attentive mother
and Eddie as she is a homeless orphan living on the streets, after running
away from numerous care homes. This leads to close bond being formed
between the two characters.
Overall the Stone Heart is definitely a book to be read, as it
takes all the things readers love about fantasy novels. With its
use of flying dragons, talking sphinxes and living statues, it allows
readers to escape the mundane reality of their everyday lives, whilst
still presenting believable characters, with real issues that readers
can relate with. It takes the book to another level. On top of this,
Charlies Fletchers vivid imagery and descriptive language
allows the reader to really feel like they are part of a thrilling whirlwind
adventure around un-London, making the initially off-putting five hundred
page length of the book not a problem for even the youngest of readers.
© Alana Hebenton October 2007
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