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| Author: Kai Meyer
| Genre: YA Fantasy
| Age Range: 12 and up
| ISBN-10: 0689877897
| ISBN-13: 9780689877902
| Content: Alternate Reality, Mermaids, Mythology
| Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books; Reprint edition (October 16, 2007)
| Elizabeth D. Crawford (Translator)
| Cover Artist: Russell Gordon
| Paperback: 384 pages
| Source: Personal copy
| Rating: 3 Stars
This is purely an adventure story. In addition to the unique creatures we encountered in The Water Mirror, this time around mighty sphinx are added to the mix. And like the lions, some are winged and some are not. Meanwhile, one group of characters stays in Venice while the other group flies off to explore the environs of Hell.
Fantasy Series Book Review by Mulluane
♦ What I Liked. Now this is not Dante's Inferno. This hell has massive talking stone heads flying through the air, mad scientists, mysterious technology and alien like creatures. Oh and did I mention the 500 yard high stone warriors who guard the entrance? In terms of creativity, this book was flat out amazing. I can easily see an imaginative 12 year old thinking that this version of Hell is way too cool. (No pun intended.) I also, to my delight, I got a few of those answers I was looking for in terms of backstory. Not alot of them mind you, but enough to keep my appetite whetted for more.
♦ What I didn't like. When I read book one, I assumed this was an alternate history. There are valid reasons for that. First off was unwanted orphans being apprenticed to merchant craftsmen, a common enough practice in the 1200s though one that continued through the 1800s. Secondly was the making of crafts, like glass and mirrors, all by hand. Glass was not commercially manufactured until the middle 1800s. Thirdly was that while they had flying ships, those ships were kept aloft by magic, not technology. Actually there was no modern technology that I could discern, aside from rifles. Swords were the predominant weapon, and rifles themselves date back to the 1400s. Add in a ruling Pharaoh, (Cleopatra was the last ruling Pharaoh and she died in 30 BC), ancient Egyptian gods, sword wielding zombies, guards patrolling on stone lions and I honestly had no idea what era this was but surely no later then the 1400s
This book however had very different overtones. Hell contains machines, steel gears, pipes, steam engines and suddenly a reference is made to steam factories in Venice itself. The presence of steel alone bumps the timeline up to the 1700s. The whole thing had me scratching my head.
To cap my confusion, the main protagonist, when describing somebody she met on her journey, said "He has lost his marbles." A phrase that has its origins in the late 1800s. Such a small thing I know but one that startled me. Now all of a sudden I am not sure if this is alternate reality or still alternate history but not nearly as far back as I first assumed. It is also possible the marbles phrase was simply a bad translation. In any case, not having a sense of when I was threw off my immersion in the story. Granted your typical 12 year old would not know much of this, much less care, so maybe I was just too old for the story to be believable.
I had one other problem and it goes back to what I rambled about at the beginning of this review. I had an expectation that somewhere in their travels, our bands of heroes would be advancing their goal of saving Venice. Instead I got a fascinating look at Meyer's version of Hell, in all of its imaginative glory, and a progressively worsening situation in Venice itself.
Was it an exciting, action packed, dramatic adventure? Absolutely! Were strides made in reaching their ultimate goal? Well no, but my expectations aside, it is a middle book and it is typical of middle books to be no more than a bridge between books one and three.
♦ My Thoughts. The original reason why I started reviewing back in 2008 was simple. I kept searching the web for completed series to read and all I found were single book reviews. So I started my own series review blog. As the years have passed my original goal has remained the same but I have come to realize the importance of reviews and the information to be gleaned from them.
Often I go into a book with preconceived notions. I have a vague idea of what I expect to happen. This could be because of misleading blurbs or based on what I read in a previous book. This was a case where I was looking for one thing and I got something completely different. Now you might think being surprised is a good thing but there is a downside. It can also leave you disappointed, or even frustrated.
So one of my jobs, as I see it, is to tell you what to expect so that unlike me, you don't spend the entire book looking for something you are not going to find. Hopefully, with that fore knowledge, you can enjoy the book for what it is - instead of what you thought it would be.
♦ Conclusion. My advice? Go into this book expecting a wonderful, imaginative and amazingly creative adventure with a few truly priceless revelations pertaining to the backstory. Expect a deepening mystery surrounding the main characters but don't expect any plot progression. Not yet. Evidently that is being saved for book three.
(6 customer reviews)
What Should I Read Next?
|Kindle: The Stone Light (The Dark Reflections Trilogy)
Buy Book: AbeBooks - BAM
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Young Adult Fantasy Book Review of The Stone Light: (Dark Reflections Trilogy: Book 2) by Kai Meyer - Reviewed by Mulluane - on December 2, 2013 - Rating: of 5 Stars