Here's a first, I'm reviewing another author's book. Normally, I am working hard to get a reviewer to read my books. Then there's the whole "raising four kids" thing. Rarely do I have time for leisure reading. I literally have a stack of books waiting for me.
So my oldest daughter came home from school (yes, several months ago) carrying a book with the most intriguing cover. It was Dan Poblocki's The Stone Child. She read the thing in two days flat. She said it was the creepiest book she'd ever read and this is coming from an Official Member of the American Chillers Fan Club. After she finished, that cover kept calling to me. Mostly black with a hint of blue light surrounding the statue of a child. She holds out a book, beckoning the reader to peak inside. It wasn't until after I had a few chapters down that I noticed the creatures wrapped around her feet.
This cover pulled me in, much the same as the pendant pulls in the two different authors in the story. For a writer, I am one of the slowest readers you will meet. It took me more like two weeks to finish the book, as opposed to my daughter's two days.
Don't take that the wrong way though. I completely enjoyed The Stone Child. Basic plot: the outsider, Edgar Fennicks, moves to Gatesweed, an unfamiliar world. We get to know Eddie over the first couple chapters as he is set up to be the classic underdog. We get several hints that things are not right in this town and Eddie discovers an unusual book, hand-written in code, by his favorite author, who also happens to have vanished from this very town. The story begins moving once Eddie meets Harris, the son of the quaint, local bookstore owner. Eddie and Harris embark on a quest to unravel the code and hopefully find the missing author. With the help of another outsider, the quirky Maggie, the three junior detectives encounter a menagerie of creative monsters.The Woman in Black is the most effective as her vagaries torment both Eddie and the missing author whether they are awake or falling through a nightmare.
Things that worked for me: The suspense; The monsters; The Lilith mythology; The setting came alive and I could feel Poblocki's passion for the North Eastern countryside, especially when they went to pick apples; And a genuine mystery that the characters and the reader solve together.
Things that didn't work for me: Maggie's extremely simple solution to one of the key elements of the mystery (trying to avoid spoilers); Never knowing Eddie's parents' names - for some reason, this kept me from totally connecting with Eddie. He thought of them as Mom and Dad, but I wanted to see them as adults since I am an adult reader; Being an adult leads to the final thing that didn't work - the font, parts of the story are told from the missing author's hand-written work. While an immersing technique, my eyes are not as sharp as my ten year old daughter and on a few late nights, I had a little trouble with the cursive.
Overall, for being a scary story that bigger kids can read, I say 5-stars. It is a creepy fun read of Good VS Evil and kids VS monsters. To paraphrase Nathaniel Olmstead, "this story has a jolt or two, which is all anyone really needs to remember he's still alive."
Mark Miller is the author of The Empyrical Tales fantasy adventure series from Comfort Publishing. Book 1: The Fourth Queen and Book 2: The Lost Queen are available now.Miller has also co-written A Prince in Trenton, Seriously? with Giovanni Gelati as part of Trestle Press's Author's Lab and will be headlining the upcoming inspirational anthology, Mark Miller's One. He has a background in motion picture production and elementary education. Follow his blog at EmpyricalTales.blogspot.com or find him on Facebook at Facebook.com/EmpyricalTales.