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Review Stone by Finbar Hawkins

As always I want to start by saying that I was given an e-ARC of this to review. My review is honest and left voluntarily. Thank you to @headofZeus and @Netgalley

I absolutely adored Finbar Hawkins debut novel Witch when it first came out. The prose was beautiful, the story amazing and the characters memorable. So when I had the chance from Head of Zeus to review Hawkins’ newest book I was incredibly excited. Add into this the reference to Odin and I was sure this would be amazing. Thankfully, I wasn’t wrong.

Stone follows Sam a young teen who is grieving the death of his father. When he finds a silver-flecked stone that is ice-cold to the touch strange things begin to happen in his life. Combining magic, myth, legend and witchcraft Hawkins weaves a tale centred on an hillside where a chalk white horse has galloped for centuries.

The first thing I want to say is Sam as a protagonist did make some rather infuriating choices and was not always likable but I honestly feel that was the point. Sam is a teenage boy, dealing with all the issues teens deal with and on top of this had the crippling grief and loss of his father during these years. He is far from perfect but he is most definitely human. He also does progress throughout the story learning and healing with his grief and internalised guilt. In short he is not always likeable but he was the perfect protagonist for this story.

Secondly I was not prepared for how heartbreaking and heartwarming this book was going to be. Grief is a terrible thing that most of us will face. It breaks us down and Hawkins captures this perfectly from Sam and his family to the old man Sam befriends, Bill. We see how it continues to live with us but how slowly it becomes something we can live with. It was heartwarming to see Sam and Bill bond and Sam slowly come to terms with his grief. Not that it made the loss easier but it began to heal.

The third thing I adored was how Hawkins manages to combine the world of myth and magic to a ‘normal’ world. The strange and eerie experiences Sam has have no logical explanation but Hawkins manages to build in a world of myth and magic where they do become acceptable and make sense. This was added by the inclusion of Oona, with her bewitching ways who is able to help and guide Sam with her tarot.

Without spoiling the book I will say it was one I definitely will be recommending and re-reading. It contained all of Hawkins trademarks of beautiful prose, believable characters who are far from perfect, melding magic and the real world and a wonderful story all while dealing with tough topics like grief and loss in a believable and respectful way.

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