This is the first of C.E. Murphy’s other series, and I was forewarned it was quite different from the Walker Papers. However, everything I love about her writing, her worlds, her characters? Still in there and going strong. Seriously, there is no question that C.E. Murphy has joined my list of “I will read anything she puts out.” This means that I’m behind the times on many series just because I’m a slow reader and I’ve found an amazing number of great authors, but she’s right up there.
A very long time ago, probably in a Forward Motion chatroom, I read a snippet from Heart of Stone. I hadn’t realized that until the moment that Margrit (with the absolutely lovely and telling nickname of Grit :D) learns what Alban really is. It was intriguing then, and just as intriguing now.
Heart of Stone introduces a possible world in which our legends, our haunting nightmares, are members of earlier sapient species that, while they didn’t quite die out, lost the race to dominance and now hide in plain sight…sometimes literally. The story builds upon itself in such a way that just when you make one connection, you learn it’s much more complicated than you could have imagined, but at the same time the clues that you’ve learned still work, if not in the way you expected.
I’m limited by my prohibition against spoilers…I don’t know what I can say at this point without revealing something out of order just because it all clicks into place now. I’ve lost the innocence of that first page. I’ve been tainted with foreknowledge of the significance and how things come together. This book isn’t simple. It’s got Murphy’s straightforward, clear voice–though this time in third person with multiple POVs unlike the Walker Papers–but that very clarity allows her to take you on a twisted, thorn-blocked path where things have more than one meaning and significance. It’s a strong book, a strong story, and a strong world. I’d be amazed if anyone reading this book walked away disappointed. Me? I’m waiting for a shipment of books from Barnes and Noble that just so happens to have book 2 in it :).
Oh, and for those writer readers, deliberate or not, there are some lovely discussions or word usages that form inside jokes. Offhand I can remember a mention of “forward motion” that knowing Murphy’s background seemed to have a layered meaning, but what really caught me was the discussion of race. Oh, did I forget to mention that? In the midst of this mystery, adventure, paranormal discovery trail, there’s also a social message, or more like a social exploration of the concept of race. But mixed in there is a fascinating argument/discussion between Alban and Margrit about the meaning of the word and how it’s been warped until it has almost no meaning left. It’s not heavy handed in any way as to disrupt the story; it just adds another layer to Margrit’s character and the crossovers between Alban’s world and ours while offering up some things to think about if you are so inclined.