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The Silent Strength of Stones (A Chapel Hollow Novel) Mass Market Paperback – September 1, 1995
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Nick Verrou has to help his father run a small convenience store and a handful of tourist cabins near a lake. He enjoys watching the people in the cabins, not in a creepy way, but a curious boy way. His attention is caught by the people in the Lacey cabin. There's something strange about them.
While Nick and we find out about just how strange they are, we discover Nick's own strangeness. We see him develop from a boy to a man, and are intrigued enough to boy the previous book just to find out more about those Lacey people and what they are up to in that cabin.
This coming-of-age story follows Nick as he discovers the magic within himself and confronts those who would use magic for darker, more selfish goals. Nick's journey takes him from an isolated boy who spends much of his time watching others from afar, to a member of a community, an adopted brother of a shapeshifter and the boyfriend of a witch.
Grounded in vivid descriptions, The Silent Strength of Stones is both a wistful glimpse into a magical world just beneath the skin of our normal lives and a taste of the lush Pacific Northwest.
This is more than a simple coming of age novel. It leads us to the heart of the differences that challenged as as teens. Yes, it is a fantasy, it has magic woven in a the heart of the tale. But more than that it is about the power of choice and the responsibility of encouraging self reliance and individuality. Read the book, it is bittersweet fun and an introduction to what kind of person you should be.
The standout for me is Hoffman's Nick Verrou, the young hero. He is not perfect by any means but his motives, actions and reactions are very true. His voice is clear in the story even if he's not always sure of where he is going.
The other thing that I like is that Hoffman resists the urge to have a closed ended narrative. Not every story thread has an ending. Although the main story plot has closure, there are other significant moments that do not and within this story and the way that the characters interact, the open-ended storytelling makes sense. It may be understandably frustrating to some readers, but I felt it was appropriate because the main characters are young and nothing at that age has easy closure because they are really just at the beginning of their lives. Hoffman allows that sense of non-closure come through.
The last thing that I like is Hoffman's prose. There is something magical about the way she writes. Smooth, clear, and deceptively simple. She makes the story that unfolds seem effortless and natural. That's a rare talent.
Hoffman is not for everyone but for those of us who find her and admire her work, she's a treasure. And "The Silent Strength of Stones" is my favorite treasure of hers.