Title: Elora of Stone
Author: Jaime Lee Mann
Publisher: Blue Moon Publishers
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Source: NetGalley Ebook
Elora of Stone really captured the essence of stories parents tell their children before bed and the spirit of imagination that children have. It’s a delightful fantasy story for readers of about 9-12 years old, but really, it could probably be read by anyone looking for some fun, fairy-tale adventure. Within its pages are wizards, fairies and kidnappings. It takes place on a cursed land and is a well-thought out story.
The book takes over the period of time, as fate is directed by the careful manipulations of a witch. It follows a single family through a couple of generations until things finally come to a head and destiny comes to pass. For such a short novel, it really captures the progression of time well and I was rarely left feeling confused by the jumps across time, or the change in characters.
The plot itself revolves around the curse that afflicts the land, causing only one twin to survive in their parents’ care, the disappearance of a brother and the restoration of an ancient, powerful witch – the good witch Elora. I really enjoyed how this story intertwined with that of the Caine family and I thought the pacing was well done. My only bit of confusion was that the point of view occasionally changes from first to third person and back again. While it made for some interesting passages, it wasn’t consistent for certain characters and did take me out of the story a little bit.
One of my favourite parts of this book is that, when trying to think of a main character, no-one comes to mind. Each of the characters is given fairly equal treatment and development. While it could be said that Ariana takes the lead towards the end, her absence from the first half and the focus on other characters really makes it seem like a joint effort. This meant that the book felt incredibly well-rounded and realistic when it came to characters. Each stood on their own and have their part to play. I especially liked Sibley who added a thread of continuity between the two parts of the story – when Gwendolyn is a child and then again when Ariana is a child.
Even though not too much detail is spared on the world-building, I did get a good sense of the world that Mann has created, and could easily imagine the story taking place there. The exposition in the book was subtle and did not feel forced on me while every part of the story fit into place – nothing felt wrong or unexplained to me. While I would like to know a bit more about the history, the magic system, and parts which are delved a little bit into in the final climactic scene, any more than what we received in Elora of Stone would have felt too over-powering and would have distracted from the main story-line. There is certainly more to explore in further books, however.
I will say I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I was captured from the very first chapter, and drawn fully into the story. It’s an easy read thanks to its age range, but is well-crafted and I found myself quite intrigued by the world that Mann has created. While it was fairly predictable in places, the final confrontation did the rest of the book justice and the I am very curious to see what else Mann will do with the world she has created.
Elora of Stone, and the next three books in the Legend of Rhyme series are out now. If you know someone who loves books, magic and fairy-tales, this series may just be the perfect present for them this winter.