The Stonekeeper's Child
Elva has always felt different from the other fairy folk but she only discovers why when she's sent on a mission to try and set her people free. With the help of a kelpie shapeshifter and a gypsy boy with special sight, she must penetrate the underworld and steal scrolls which hold the key to releasing her people from their enchantment. Can she find them before Kalen, the evil bogan magican, discovers who she is and imprisons her in his dark kingdom? Hear Rosemary talk to school children about 'The Stonekeeper's Child' - Book One
Reviews of The Stonekeeper's Child Book One: The Call
'There is so much to delight young readers in this fast-paced fantasy from prolific YA/children's author, Rosemary Hayes. Its settings are vivid and engrossing, from a remote and beautiful northern isle inhabited by 'seelies' or 'fae' (fairy) folk, to a terrifying underworld ruled by terrifying 'bogans' hellbent on cruelty and war. Magic collides with reality when the arrival of fracking drills in an English wood threatens to release the bogans with desperate consequences for the seelies and our brave heroine, Elva, tasked with saving her people while struggling to understand why her own parents have abandoned her.
The beguiling mantra running through this powerful story is 'Two worlds, one earth, one hope,' yet The Stonekeeper's Child is never preachy or overly burdened by its deep concern for nature. Elva is brave and kind, but her confusion over her identity as a 'halfling' will resonate with many young readers, while her partner in the battle against the forces of greed and injustice, Scott, is a lonely traveller boy whose treatment at the hands of school bullies is a heart-wrenching and all-too believable nod to contemporary social ills.
The Stonekeeper's Child has something for every reader, from echoes of Norse legend to a subterranean universe discoverable (as all such universes are) via gaps in the roots of ancient trees, not forgetting its superhero, Gundin, who appears in the body of a magnificent black stallion yet can metamorphose into any shape imaginable. All this and two very brave and loyal human protagonists whom any child can identify with: The Stonekeeper's
Child is a wonderful addition to the long tradition of children's
fantasy fiction, and what is more, Part One: The Call is followed by
an equally brilliant sequel, Kalen's Revenge.'
'I am 10 years old and have just read The Stone keeper's Child. I
could not put the book down, it was great. i enjoyed the book so
much because it was really mysterious and fun to read'. R. Jones
'Speaking as an ex-primary teacher, this is the sort of book I'd
choose to read to the class, because of its narrative immediacy,
direct, clear language, powerful story and contemporary
environmental theme; it's about the right length for that too'.
'Young readers from around the age of nine will be gripped
immediately - by the narrative, the characters, and the setting -
beginning with the breezy, sometimes damp and misty,
atmosphere of the mysterious island off the north British coast,
which is invisible to human eyes. The characters are engaging,
especially Elva, who is half-human and half-faerie, and therefore
the only person able to escape the island to rescue Gundin, their
champion. She must also retrieve the sacred scrolls upon which
the island's safety depends. Elva is an appealing girl, rebellious,
wilful, and steadfast. All this is put severely to the test when she
goes underground into the land of the Bogans, who are taking
advantage of fracking to escape from underground and wreak
havoc on the world. The other main character is a gypsy boy,
Elva's loyal companion, victimised at school but in possession of
secret knowledge and hidden gifts. The story is a traditional quest
story - with many dangers on the journey, and ending with a truly
gripping adventure underground, where the two of them must first
find the imprisoned Gundin and free him, then locate the scrolls
and get them safely out. The account of going deeper and deeper
into darkness and danger, feeling increasingly enclosed, is
brilliantly and overwhelmingly claustrophobic. I recommend this
The Stonekeeper's Child
In a race against time and in constant danger, Elva, the halfling, and Gundin, the kelpie shapeshifter, are returning to the island. Elva has stolen the scrolls from the underworld but no one knows if the seer will be able to interpret them in time to reverse their enchantment. Only then can the seelie people escape and try to drive back the bogans and rescue the forest treasure. Will Elva persuade Scott, her gypsy friend, to help her again and will she ever find her mother, Rosa, whose special stone she has inherited?
Reviews of The Stonekeeper's Child Book Two: Kalen's Revenge
'The second of this two-volume middle grade fantasy. Based on the myths surrounding a vanished island it is a thrilling, fast moving story of the collision of two worlds, the battle of good against evil and the growing friendship between two strong young characters, both misfits, as they fight to free the island's people and overcome the evil Kalen and his dark forces. Add to the mix an unreliable kelpie shapeshifter, seers, glyphs, powerful magic, a gnomic sword, the mystery of a banished stonekeeper and you have a tension filled and unusual series which will keep the reader guessing until the very end.' Goodreads.
'The second part of this fantasy adventure lives up to the promise of 'Book 1: The Call'. We are plunged straight into the story (a brief 'The story so far' usefully reminds us of what went before). How will Freeda, the seer of the island seelies, be able to interpret the scrolls Elva brought back from Kalen's underground kingdom? What is their key, and how does it relate to the stone that Elva carries with her always, the stone her mother left for her when she disappeared? Eventually, the mist blanketing the island lifts, but at what cost to Freeda and Elva? The seelie army sets sail in a bid to rescue the forest seelies on the mainland, who are in danger of being wiped out by Kalen and his army of bogans and pookahs. But they are not warriors and they're up against those who are. What follows is the mother of all battles. On one side is the ferocious Kalen, master of dark magic, and his evil seelies; on the other are the island seelies, together with Gundin the shapeshifter, now in human form; Elva the halfling - she's immune to bogan attack, wields a magic sword and finds strength in telepathy with her mother Rosa; and Scott, the gipsy boy, who has proved such a good friend to Elva; somewhere in the middle is the equivocal figure of Alston, whose volte face in the thick of battle might just prove crucial.
We shift in the final part of the book to the darkest place of magic,
Kalen's cave by the fairy pools. When Elva and Scott, guided by
Gundin, confront a wounded Kalen, who thinks he has them at his
mercy, their fortunes shift back and forth. Imprisoned in the cave is the seer of the forest, Oren,
its living heart - the forest is dying
because of Oren's imprisonment, along with all its seelies: it's vital
that Elva rescues him. Another cosmic battle ensues, this time on
a much smaller, more subtle, scale.
In the outcome, Elva meets someone she's yearned for all her life;
she learns what lies at the root of her special identity. She is
destined, on returning to her island home, to become its seer.
Scott, too, finds new strength and resolution in his troubled life: he
is at last on the path to success. It's a satisfying ending to a fast-
paced, action-packed adventure, intricately realised, underpinned
by some big themes. Heroism, bravery, self-sacrifice, looking out
for others, the nature of conflict, cherishing one's community,
sustaining nature - it's all there. It has a spiritual dimension too,
speculative notions of parallel worlds and supernatural powers, as
one would expect in this kind of story. It's good to see girls and
women taking the lead roles in both books, helping to redress the
usual gender imbalance in such action-packed stories. Rosemary
Hayes marshals complicated forces with great skill and pulls off
something that should enthral every young reader.'
'The Stonekeeper's Child, consisting of 'The Call' and its sequel
'Kalen's Revenge', is a joy to read. Both books are very well
written and manage to marry fantasy and contemporary issues,
which can be tricky. Several themes are evident - avarice,
bullying, injustice - but the most powerful is the environmental
one, a theme that will appeal to older readers as well as middle
grade, at whom the books are targetted. The narrative is strong.
Set on a wild northern isle, we follow Elva, a child who fits into
neither the fairy (seelie) world nor the human one, as she struggles
to discover her own identity and save her community with the help
of Scott, a Gypsy child. The seelies can be seen as the indigenous
people attuned to the island, and when a fracking company arrives
it disrupts both the natural world and the fairy one. Vivid
descriptions, from the rhythm and balance of the seelies' lives, to
the terrifying netherworld of the sinister bogans, unleashed by
fracking, are excellent. They enhance the story without weighing it
down. There is good detail, too, and a nod to myth and legend.
Gundin, another of Elva's helpers, is marvellous - a shapeshifter,
who at one point transforms himself into a striking black stallion.
The Stonekeeper's Child lingers in the mind's eye and deserves to
reach a wide audience.'