Frances or Frankie Sheba has been in foster care for most
of her seventeen years, and while her life isn't too bad,
she loves to escape into fantasy books. The used bookstore
down the road is closing, so she accepts a job of helping
to pack the stock. As a reward she is given an unusual old
book. This starts an adventure in THE SOUND OF THE STONES.
Next we find ourselves following the life of a girl called
Ashra who works in crystal mines on another world. She has
to satisfy the giant Kranks that she can find enough
crystals to meet her targets. Ashra is somewhat better at
this than most humans. But her parents, who are farmers,
warn her that the way to survive under the brutal Kranks is
not to be noticed.
The level of violence and repression looks modelled on the
Hunger Games books, although Ashra is no fighter, she just
has a talent to hear a song in vibrating crystals. She
can't trust her team workers so getting an assignment to
work in the deep mines is not a good prospect. A man called
Perditus who lives in much better circumstances in Krad
City than her family in the basic human camp, decides to
take Ashra under his wing. Her talent has been noted. But
Ashra feels uncomfortable with a powerful, grown man
looking at her, and she decides to keep secrets.
I found that the introduction of Frankie is just a frame
for the fantasy; and while there may be a real connection
between the two parts as a second book is to follow, I was
expecting to see Frankie enter the world of Ashra for some
time before accepting that it's a dead end. I was annoyed
at having wasted time getting to know Frankie when she did
nothing. The writer Beth Hammond has mainly written early
reading material and needs to develop more technique for YA
readers, who I consider are sophisticated readers. That
said, if someone wants to read a dark fantasy and doesn't
object to some gore and menace, they might be pleased to
enter this grim imagined dystopia. Ashra is young enough to
be overconfident of her abilities but easily cowed by
large, authoritarian figures. Plenty of teens can relate to
her position. THE SOUND OF THE STONES is an interesting
fantasy adventure which is to be continued.
When Frankie breaks the binding on an ancient book Ashra's
world intertwines with her own.
Evil seeks to destroy humanity, but Ashra is more powerful
than she knows. As a new king ascends the throne both her
virtue and her life are in danger. She risks everything to
flee the city in search of answers. In her quest to save
humanity she finds love, uncovers mysteries from the past,
and unlocks a primordial magic she never knew she had.
The multi perspective, epic setting of Game of Thrones meets
the "book within a book" concept of The Never Ending Story.
With a sense of humor similar to Hitchhiker's Guide to the
Galaxy and romantic undertones reminiscent of The Name of
the Wind, The Sound of the Stones appeals to a wide fantasy