on Nov. 6, 2015 :
When an ordinary family release a trapped elf from a stone, they find themselves in the middle of an Elf War and join a quest to find legendary gems of power that will win the war for the good elves. However the dark elves and dangerous creatures seek to stop the quest at any cost.
The thing I really liked about this book is that grandparents get a starring role as adventure heroes, which makes a nice change. I liked the idea of the quest for the gemstones with the elf war and dangerous creatures chasing the group. I also liked Nana and Beebop as the adventure couple despite her dodgy back, and the cast of characters were interesting especially Keeper, who I would want to see more of. He was intriguing and interesting. I liked the story of the Kelpie as well. I would have liked to have seen the dangerous confrontations developed a bit more instead of being quckly solved or escaped from. Overall it was an entertaining magical adventure story that will appeal to adults and the older YA.
There were, however, niggles that caused this to be 3 star rather than a higher mark. The first thing I would comment on are the frequent and often complicated info dumps, some of which younger readers might not understand. It is also a bit repetitive. We get the action happening through the eyes of characters and a few pages later, those characters tell the others what happened pretty much word for word. That gets pretty boring and for me it isn't really necessary. We also get told about every meal they have and every bedtime routine, even though it is virtually the same every time. There is a lot of description in the book which also wasn't necessary. By this I mean that we got a full description of every room in Beebop's house, his vehicles, his rock hunting equipment and how he uses it, his tools and how he uses them to make his gems-and then most of the book is spent in another realm! We didn't really need so much detail of a place we see very little of. I also felt that every escape from the bad guys was just too easy and convenient. Every time they were trapped, a family member instantly developed a new skill, thought or spell to get them out of it with minimum effort. It was just a bit too easy for my liking.
The children annoyed me a bit with their immaturity. I expected Maggie to break the rules and not do what she was told, but Aidan was worse. He was the most immature 14 year old I've read about! He never does what he is told and never seems to think of the consequences of his actions ie levitating the spit, freeing the elf etc. I found him pretty annoying but that is a personal thing. The entire family fail to follow advice for their safety ie don't use magic or they'll track us and the next thing Maggie and Nana are out-Yodaing each other in the forest! Still, I don't blame the author for the faults of the characters though, as he is doing that to create more dangerous situations for the reader to enjoy.
It was still a good read and if the opportunity arose, I'd probably read the rest of the series. If you like magical adventure stories, this one might interest you. No sexual content or bad language.
(reviewed 3 years after purchase)
on Feb. 28, 2013 :
Fun fantasy for all the family. Magical Elves, terrible trolls and mysterious gemstones. Beebop, Nana, Aidan and Maggie are your stereotypical loving family, they don’t have to worry about anything except school and what they might be having for dinner. Yet when Beebop and the kids go rock hunting they come across a mysterious stone in the shape of a cross. Intrigued, they take it home with plans to study it further. But there is something unusual about it, and one evening before Maggie goes to sleep a spectral figure appears begging to be released. Alarmed, Nana insists they get rid of the stone, but the children cannot quell their curiosity. They smash it freeing an elf named Findecano, he tells them of a word of magical creatures, feuding clans and ancient gemstones. The family cannot believe their ears, but when their house is ransacked by an angry troll they are forced to accept that the stories are true. Findecano, worried for the families safety, leads them back through the veil to the elven world where they will embark on an epic journey to restore the balance power between the two worlds.
This book is so fun and cute in every way! But lets start with the writing.
Stuart has a great style that lends itself really well to the fantasy genre, it actually reminded me a little of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust. Everything has an air of lighthearted fun and magic, settings and people are described with an almost childlike wonder that makes the story feel fresh, and you can’t help but get swept up within the first few pages. The book is aimed at youngish children and the writing reflects this, it’s simple and easy to understand but without talking down to the reader or becoming patronizing.
There are however, a few issues that need to be ironed out that I’m sure will come naturally with practice. I found some of the descriptions difficult to follow at points, specifically in reference to the gemstones. This was probably because the author knew exactly what he was talking about, but to me as a reader with almost no knowledge of them I did get confused with some of the terminology. There was also a lack of contractions during dialogue(hey check me out, I learnt a new word!). For example “We are all sleeping in here. I will stay up and keep an eye on things," this would be totally normal for description, but as speech it’s quite jarring as most people don’t speak like that during everyday life. We’re lazy, we like our apostrophes’! I also felt that changing this could make the distinction between the humans and elves more prominent.
The final issue I had was the lack of synonyms at certain points in the novel. The majority of the book was very well written and flowed perfectly, yet there were some passages sprinkled throughout that were overly repetitive. While in theory this may not seem like a big issue, each time it happened I found myself catapulted out of the story because it didn’t flow, and this was quite frustrating.
I thought the plot of this book was excellent! I’m not sure why I had a preconceived idea, possibly because the book was aimed at children, but it was detailed and complex! All the storylines were well thought out and the world building was impressive. I loved the idea of gemstones with different properties, strength, protection, etc and Stuart’s own additions to elf mythology. The concept of elves living as long as it took them to fulfill their purpose whether 20 years or 200 was intriguing to me and the feuding clans made a great backstory. Equally the Celtic folklore on the Kelpie (a magical beast in the form of a horse that lures travelers onto its back and drowns them) was a really interesting as I had never heard of it before, and I’m always interested in discovering new mythical creatures! The parallel’s with the human world and the idea that an unequal balance of dark and light on the elves side was affecting our world in the form of natural disasters and global warming felt really innovative too.
What I loved best about this book though was the characters. They were all so crystal clear in my mind that I could picture exactly what they looked like and how they would sound, not from their physical description but from their personality which is how it should be. Beebop an ex navy submarine operator makes the perfect grandfather with his sense of humor and quirky hobbies. He is always finding ways to entertain his grandchildren from rock hunting to teaching them how to drive. His wife is probably the most badass nan I have ever come across. Not only does she blog, she also knocks out a troll with a frying pan without a moments thought. Go Nana! I also liked the fact that the two grandchildren, Aidan and Maggie although not as developed, were given strengths in different areas. While Aidan relied on muscle during the book Maggie’s power laid with her mind, but both showed large amounts of courage in the face of adversity.
Findecano the elf was also a very entertaining character, and his interpretations of the human world and their customs often made me chuckle!
The Gemstone Chronicles: The Carnelian is a fun book that would make perfect family bedtime reading. As an idea audience I would recommend it to children ages 7-13, as the characters Aidan and Maggie will reflect their own secret fantasies, wishes and dreams. However, this book does not have limited appeal, as a teenager I really enjoyed it, and I think many adults would enjoy it too! I am looking forward to seeing what happens in the next book. While there are a few writing issues that need to be sorted, this book is getting a happy 4 stars because my heart says so. :D
*Please note: This was originally reviewed on http://beckysblogs.wordpress.com/2013... and was offered to me in exchange for an author interview, book giveaway and an honest review.*
(reviewed 2 days after purchase)