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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rich and Strange
I had gotten a little backed up on reading my latest purchases of dragon books, and I wondered whether Charlie Fletcher's screenwriting background would translate well to prose, but then I started in on Stoneheart and completely forgot to fuss. It is a VERY good book--in my opinion, Fletcher succeeds in doing what China Mieville wanted to do but didn't quite pull off with...
Published on September 19, 2007 by Kate Coombs

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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Above average concept, below average execution
There's a saying that all it takes to succeed is an idea and money. In my personal view, if the idea is great enough, one can make it work without money. Writing however, is something different. Regardless of how great the idea is, the writing must match.

Stone Heart is an example of this principle. Not going into too much detail, the book conveys the idea of...
Published on July 21, 2008 by Hawki


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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rich and Strange, September 19, 2007
By 
Kate Coombs (Utah, United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
I had gotten a little backed up on reading my latest purchases of dragon books, and I wondered whether Charlie Fletcher's screenwriting background would translate well to prose, but then I started in on Stoneheart and completely forgot to fuss. It is a VERY good book--in my opinion, Fletcher succeeds in doing what China Mieville wanted to do but didn't quite pull off with Un Lun Dun, which surely got a lot more attention than this book. That is, Fletcher turns London into a quiet fantasy nightmare, an alternate reality, for a couple of kids, George and Edie. (Neil Gaiman would be proud!)

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!
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliance, June 14, 2007
By 
molly (california) - See all my reviews
This book was a real phenomenon for my typical bookbuying expeditions. Rarely do I ever buy a hardcover that is not part of a series I like, by an author I like, or sufficiently hyped-up for me to recognize it. STONEHEART was none of these, but the writing sample on the back and the book description made me buy it.

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.

Highly recommended.

I don't think I've rated a first novel this way since "Fly By Night", but...

Rating: Masterpiece
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Here be dragons, December 7, 2007
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If you're into Neil Gaiman and Jonathan Stroud, you'll probably like this book, which is the first part of an intended trilogy. The second book is due out in May 2008.

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
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Above average concept, below average execution, July 21, 2008
This review is from: Stoneheart (The Stoneheart Trilogy) (Paperback)
There's a saying that all it takes to succeed is an idea and money. In my personal view, if the idea is great enough, one can make it work without money. Writing however, is something different. Regardless of how great the idea is, the writing must match.

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.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Have I mentioned how much I love Jim Dale?, July 2, 2014
I picked up Stoneheart by Charlie Fletcher simply because of the narrator. It’s not often I chose a book this way but I love listening to Jim Dale. He is fantastic, books come alive when he narrates them.

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!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Stoneheart., December 28, 2009
This review is from: Stoneheart (The Stoneheart Trilogy) (Paperback)
I have had Stoneheart on my To Be Read list for a while now, but it wasn't available at my local library and I didn't quite want to shell out the money to buy it. Not when we have such fantastic books like the The Hunger Games to buy. But the Lords of Reading smiled down on me when a friend walked into school one day, carrying this book. I gasped out that I have been wanting to read this book for ages, and she kindly lent it to me (once she was done, of course). It has an amazing premise: not only is there a London out there that the ordinary people can see, but Londons hidden away beneath it that we may never know about. One of these is filled with gargoyles and stone dragons and many other terrible, fantastical things. Needless to say, it sounds just like my kind of book. George is a young boy with mature problems weighing down on him. He has no one to turn to with these problems: not his carefree actress mother who is never home, or the rotten boys at school who torture him. He bottles these problems up inside, until one day they come spilling out in the worst way possible. He lashes out at a statue and miraculously knocks it's head off instead of being hurt by it. The chase gives way as the statue's mate decides to get revenge on George. George has unleashed a force he knows nothing about and has no way to stop. He must find allies quick before the statues destroy him.

Stoneheart is a hit-the-ground-running type of book. Since the moment George decapitates the statue, the readers have to dodge and digest the amount of information that keeps being thrown at them. There is definately never a dull moment in this book. As a reader, I don't need to be told everything, but I don't enjoy being told little to nothing and being kept in the dark for most of the book. Stoneheart is one of those books. I understand that the author is setting up for sequels; this is made obvious by the lip-biting cliffhanger at the end and the fact that the cover tells you its a trilogy. But I had to keep asking my friend, "Now when do we figure out about s-and-so?" or "Who the *%#@ is that guy?" Sometimes I would completely blank on important details and have to take a few minutes to regather my evidence, like Nancy Drew, to figure out the mystery. Just so you know, you never figure out the mystery in this book. It's like a Series of Unfortunate End book; you're left with more clues and loose ends than answers. I can't wait to get my hands on the next books to find out what's going on. The plot jumps from high-speed foot chases and shady might-be-helpful might-be-backstabbing good/bad guys. I still haven't figured out what side they fall on.

One thing I loved about this book was the layers of London. I think the author did a excellent job of putting this in to perspective for the reader. No one from the 'normal London' can see George and Edie while they are interacting with statues. They could be seconds away from death, crying for help from the hordes of people surrounding them, and no one even glances up. They are living their daily lives, riding bicycles, laughing while a dragon could be scorching up a little twlve-year-old boy next to them. It was fantastic to imagine. I have never been to London, but I imagined a crowded city like New York. I can't picture how lonely it would be to be surrounded by people on the streets of a busy city and to be completely alone in a crisis like that. I felt empathy for George and Edie because they had no one to turn to, not even the police, because no one could see what they could see. That's not to say they were completely alone. There had the good and faithful Gunner, a fellow statue on the good side.

The characterzation was nothing too special. Edie was the plucky orphan with a shady past, but there is more to her than meets the eye. I can't wait to learn more about her in the books to come. We are never really given the full details of her childhood and how she came to be in London. Not to mention the fantastic cliffhanger that I can't even begin to explain. George was sort of whiny and selfish, but he grows into a bit of a man by the end of Stoneheart. I expect he has much more growing to do by the end of the series. I don't think these series are very well known, which is a shame because they are super fun to read. I had a good time with them. They recalled a rollicking adventure that didn't involve vampires, but another type of spooky supernatural beings that contained more than meets the eye.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Stronger language than is suitable for the age aimed at., March 26, 2010
By 
This review is from: Stoneheart (The Stoneheart Trilogy) (Paperback)
I picked this up for my 13 yr old niece. After reading it I will hold off letting her read it due to the authors use of some inappropriate language for that age group. The book is well written and has an interesting plot though it can drag in some spots. I did read the entire series and the language for me anyway) is a problem in all 3 books. Though the story line is aimed at the reading level age 4-8 the use of some adult language makes it something I could not recommend to a parent of a child under 16yrs.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Read, January 5, 2011
By 
Lucien Black (Orange County, CA United States) - See all my reviews
I enjoyed book one of the Stoneheart Trilogy. I found it to be more interesting and entertaining than similar books of the genre (Percy Jackson) but not as good as Mister Monday by Garth Nix.

The story is faced paced and action packed. Very good dialogue and an interesting concept. I absolutely love the character of the Gunner, a WW1 statue come to life. It was such a great visual to carry through the book. The entire book was very visual and I really could feel the characters come to life.

I recommend highly.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stoneheart, April 26, 2009
"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."

And so begins George's adventures in "unLondon." He is soon chased by many fanciful creatures come alive from stone statues. He first encounters Gunner, a statue of a World War I soldier, who helps to save the boy from the pterodactyl. The pair soon meet up with Edie, a "glint" with the power to see the past.

In order for George to go back to the London he knows, the London where stone statues don't come to life, he must return the broken dragon's head to the Stone Heart. Gunner and Edie, plus a cast of other characters, help George in achieving his objective.

In the beginning of the book, George is feeling sorry for himself because his father is dead and his mother barely has time for him. Edie is portrayed as a cold-hearted survivor who has always looked after herself. But during the course of their adventures through the unusual streets of London, their characters start to evolve.

Some of the other interesting characters from the book are the Sphinxes who only give answers in riddles, the Clocker who continually marks the time, the Black Friar who tells them where the Stone Heart is, the Walker who is pure evil incarnate and the Minotaur who is part bull, part human and all bad. We also get glimpses of dragons and gargoyles. Fletcher has turned a collection of the actual statues around London into an astonishing assortment of personalities and monsters.

Although marketed to children and young adults, I don't think I would recommend this for younger children mainly because of some of the scary and dangerous situations George and Edie encounter, but I highly recommend it for older children and teenagers, as well as adults like me who love young adult books. This is the first book in the Stoneheart Trilogy and as soon as I put the last period on this post, I'm ready to start Ironhand, the next book in the series. The final book is entitled Silvertongue.

Charlie Fletcher is a British author and screenwriter. Stoneheart was shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award in 2007. There is a movie in development for release in 2010.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Original, June 20, 2010
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This review is from: Stoneheart (The Stoneheart Trilogy) (Paperback)
When 12 year old George takes out his anger on a stone carving, strange things start to happen. Suddenly, things that should not be moving at all begin to chase him around London. And to his horror, George seems to be the only one who can see them. He finally finds an ally when a statue steps down to help him, but his journey is only just beginning. Without any clue as to what's going on, George is thrust into a world where nothing is as it seems and is forced to fight against time in order to get his life back to normal.

The concept behind Stoneheart is one of the more original fantasy premises I've come across. Unfortunately the delivery doesn't quite live up to the concept. Not that it's a bad book by any means, it's just a little... flat. As previously stated, the premise is fantastic, but while the characters are all quite original and likable, they're not very layered. There's plenty of action in Stoneheart, which helps keep the reader engaged, but a little too much of the action involves running away from things, which eventually loses its intensity. For the most part I enjoyed the book, but found it dragged a bit at times.

For fans of the fantasy genre who've grown tired of vampires and wizards, Stoneheart provides a fresh new concept that will impress. For those who prefer characterization over concept, Stoneheart may be a bit of a letdown.
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Stoneheart (The Stoneheart Trilogy)
Stoneheart (The Stoneheart Trilogy) by Charlie Fletcher (Paperback - April 1, 2008)
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