Review: Spellstone by Ross Montgomery

Written by  Ross Montgomery
Cover Illustration by David Dean
Published by Walker Books

Spellstone is an absolutely gripping fantasy adventure that kept me utterly enthralled from start to finish:  an epic battle blending ancient legend in a modern setting where magic swirls, evil hides where people fail to notice, and hope sparks with a young sorcerer …

The last members of a secret magical organisation, the Order of the Stone, meet in an old theatre where rain pours down inside and audience is asleep.    Its leader, Wainwright, tells them that he has found a sorcerer who may be their last hope in defeating an evil magician intent on finding the Spellstone and unleashing the dark magic contained within, destroying the world. 

12-year-old Evie wakes from a strange dream of a theatre where the audience sleeps and rain pours down.  As the dream fades, she leaves for school amidst a heatwave, feeling unseen by others:  her parents, her teachers and the other children.  Walking home along the canal towpath, she is knocked over by a cyclist, and helped by someone she recognises from her dream.  This man introduces himself as Wainwright, one of the last true magicians, and informs her that the Spellstone, which he is tasked with keeping hidden, is being hunted by an evil magician.  He gives her a rusted piece of metal on a chain and tells her to take care of it and keep it hidden.  Before a confused Evie can find out more, he is running from men who are closing in on him …

Later that night, Evie hears a sound at the window and, on opening it, discovers the cat from her dream.  And she can talk!  She warns Evie that smoke-men are coming for her and they have to leave.  Desperate for answers, Evie follows and finds herself at an abandoned narrowboat which is not what it seems.  Inside, she meets the other members of the Order …

And so begins the most incredible, exhilarating adventure as Evie finds herself immersed in an ancient battle against a power-hungry magician intent on unleashing the evil bound within the Spellstone on an unsuspecting world.  Will Evie discover her magical power before it is too late?  Can she find the hidden Spellstone and destroy it before it returns darkness to the world?  Can she defeat a cold-hearted and cruel magician who has an army of ever-watching sinister smoke-men at his command? 

Just wow!  What an absolute page-turner!  I was completely engrossed in this brilliantly captured world:  a world where ordinary people are oblivious to the danger they are facing; where magic hides in plain sight, unseen and unnoticed by most; but where a few are prepared to make sacrifices for the good of the many.  The secrets, the revelations and the palpable danger kept me on the edge of my seat as I was drawn into a heart-pounding high-stakes race by a courageous few to defeat a spine-chillingly evil magician.

Evie is an incredibly likeable protagonist.  She does not understand why her world has changed, why she is not noticed by others, including her busy parents.  When she learns of the existence of the Order of the Stone, and her place within it, she is understandably doubtful, but shows determination and courage when facing fears and dangers and in making difficult decisions.  What really struck me about Evie is her inner strength and kindness and her belief in the inherent spark of goodness in others which brings hope when it is much needed.  I really liked the close bond of friendship that develops between Evie and the other members of the Order who must work as a team in their efforts to defeat the dark magician.  I particularly liked Alinora who is sarcastic, quick-tempered and rude, but with a heart of gold! 

I’m a huge fan of the Arthurian legends and Tolkien and spent a disproportionate part of my teenage years reading in this genre, so I loved the allusions to both, and loved the fresh twist that made this an unforgettable read that I am really looking forward to sharing with my class.

Spellstone is an absolute masterpiece:  perfect for readers of 9+ who will be spellbound by this thrilling, magical adventure. 

Thank you to the Publisher and NetGalley for an e-ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

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