The Stone Girl’s Story by Sarah Beth Durst (9781328729453)
Mayka is a stone girl, created by Father, a stone mason who lived alone with his stone creations on a mountain. Father died years ago and now some of Mayka’s friends, whose markings are wearing off with age, are in danger of becoming statues instead of living stone. So Mayka decides to see if she can find a stone mason to recarve her friends, though that will mean heading away from the her quiet home in the mountains into the valley below. Mayka is accompanied on her quest by two stone birds who can fly and talk. Their journey leads them to the large city of Skye, where there is a stone mason’s quarter. Mayka finds someone willing to help them, but along the way discovers that there is a threat to all stone creatures brewing. Mayka has to create her own story as she seeks to find a solution that will save not only her friends but everyone made of stone.
Durst has created a compelling stand-alone fantasy book for middle graders. The world building is warm and lovely, unrolling like a carpet before the reader. She incorporates a sense of history into her world, allowing Mayka to discover things about Father that she had never known. The book revolves around reading and stories, with markings carved into the stone creatures that set their roles in the world. Markings that can be read by a clever storyteller to be even more evocative and reworked by a stone mason to say something else entirely and create a new life for that creature.
Mayka is a strong heroine, as one might expect from a girl made of stone. She is far more capable and clever than she realizes, though others around her know that about her and trust her completely. She not only identifies problems but figures out solutions to them quickly, moving her story forward at a brisk pace. My only quibble with the book is the cover. The scene it shows happens very late in the book and not in the way it is shown. A pet peeve of mine and certainly not a reason to miss this book!
A great fantasy for children, this one is warm and delightful. Appropriate for ages 9-12.
Reviewed from ARC provided by the author.