STONEHEART; Charlie Fletcher; New York: Hyperion, 2007; 450 pgs. Juvenile/Young Adult Fiction
When George Chapman has a brush-up with a bully in his class at a field trip to the Natural History museum he breaks a stone dragon head off the facade of the building and all of the Underworld breaks loose. First, a pterodactyl detaches himself from the building and takes after George, then stone salamanders, even a dragon. George finds a friend in another statue, a gunnery sergeant from World War I, and he and the Gunner are joined by Edie, a young girl who is the only other person who can see what George is seeing. George has reawakened the forces of evil--"the taints"--and the forces of good--"the spits"--and discovered Edie's extremely rare talent as a "glint"--someone who can see and feel the past. Stoneheart's story takes place in 24 hours--a day, a night, and a day--and the action is breakneck. Fletcher uses the real monuments of London to tell his story, including statues to soldiers in both world wars, gargoyles, minotaurs, and even Dr. Samuel Johnson (aka, Dictionary). What starts out as an action/fantasy/adventure soon morphs into a tale about caring, responsibility, and sacrifice. Fletcher's prose, crisp and filled with spot-on British slang, is a delight. With such a fine beginning, we can only anxiously await the next book in the Stoneheart Trilogy.