Title: The Dream of the Stone
Author: Christina Askounis
Sarah’s family has been falling apart. First it was her older brother Sam, who went to work at the Institute—which initially looked like a blessing, but her parents have growing suspicions about his job, and the tension is driving them apart. Then her parents die, and she’s left with nothing but an aunt and uncle who take her far from the country farm home she loves. When Sam sends her a mysterious object, though, everything changes. Sarah is thrust to another world and faced with an evil that can swallow up much more than she knows . . . and somehow only she can stop it.
This is a very literary fantasy. The beginning is grounded on Earth, and the story reads more like fiction until suddenly magic happens and Sarah’s somewhere else entirely. The book is well-written, and the other world has some neat ideas, but in the end the story bothered me too much to like.
Sarah spends much of the book sad and depressed, and longing to go back to life with her parents. This is very well drawn. It is also tedious after a while. Instead of moving through her grief, she lives mired in it, so that even the good experiences in the new world tend to get overshadowed by her downcast emotions. And then bad things happen and it gets worse anyway.
It’s also an odd book in that Sarah doesn’t really do anything. She spends a fair amount of time getting pushed around by circumstances and other people, and the only decisions she makes are rather small ones. It makes the climax feel very odd, because everyone’s treating her like she’s done this great thing when in reality all she did was recognize that the dead are dead and what is given to Love is never lost. So it’s more of an emotional journey than anything else.
The relationship she builds with Angel involves a lot of kissing, one scene swimming naked together, and not enough time to believe it’s really love and not lust. Which I suppose isn’t a huge problem given how it ended up.
Overall this is not a badly written book. But there’s not really a good adventure story, since so much of it is under a cloud of negative emotions, and I didn’t care much for the story that was left. I rate this book Neutral.