Heart of Stone by Melanie Welsh

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Heart of Stone by Melanie Welsh

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: More magical adventures for Verity Gallant as the Earth Witch tries to reform and destroy every happy story in the world. Beautifully-written with wonderful characterisation, it's a lovely book - if at times a little safe.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: January 2012
Publisher: David Fickling
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 0385617674

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We're back in the coastal town of Wellow to catch up with Verity Gallant and her pals. Verity has had a marvellous summer spent sailing with Henry but we all know peaceful times are unlikely to last...

In this story, the Earth Witch is trying to make a comeback. And a mysterious sand is spreading across the sea and into Wellow, disrupting everyday life and even destabilising the buildings. Everyone is suffering from insomnia and bad dreams and becoming increasingly tetchy. How are these things connected? And can Verity and her friends get to the truth in time? All the threads come together beautifully, of course, but there are many pitfalls to overcome before they do. I love the way Welsh navigates the twists and turns of her plot - she has such a flair for good old-fashioned storytelling that you feel intimately involved right from the very first pages.

Welsh writes just beautifully - there's an ease and a flow about everything and so Heart of Stone is an absolute pleasure to read. The sailing sequences are possibly my favourites as they're written with clear affection. Just as with Swallows and Amazons, they will make even the most confirmed of landlubbers - me, for instance - long to take to the waves in a special dinghy all of their very own.

The characters are wonderfully-drawn, too. Even though they do fill stock vacancies in the cast, they're fully-fleshed, three-dimensional people with whom it's very easy to identify and who it's very easy to like. The conflict in this second book comes via the attraction between Verity and Jeb, which makes Henry openly jealous, which in turn infuriates Martha. I like the way Welsh takes the development of friendship and romance quite slowly and I'm sure there's a great deal more to come in further books.

If I had any criticism at all to make, it would be one of taste. Everyone's just a little bit too nice for me - nobody ever does anything but the decent thing and arguments are always sorted out with apologies and makings-up within a page or two. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but perhaps it is a bit of a safe thing, and Heart of Stone will appeal more to those who read for escapism than to those who like a bit of edginess and uncertainty in their reading. For the escapists, though, this book comes highly recommended.

You could also look at the crazily original nautical adventures in Justin Somper's Vampirates series. And I think the fantabulous Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy might also appeal.

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Buy Heart of Stone by Melanie Welsh at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Heart of Stone by Melanie Welsh at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Heart of Stone by Melanie Welsh at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Heart of Stone by Melanie Welsh at Amazon.com.


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