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TPG Reviews: The Stone Kingdom, by Danielle Shipley (Wilderhark Tales #2)

February 1, 2014

Please note that this review will contain slight spoilers for the previous book. The Swan Prince is excellent and is well worth reading, so I suggest you stop reading now if you are new to this series.

For those who are still with me, let’s begin.

“Love and prince,
Both true, wed rose of white in realm of stone;
For blood begins,
But naught can be put right by blood alone.”

One thoughtless act is all it takes to bring the curse threatened on Rosalba’s christening day to pass. Now the princess must combine her desperate determination with the service of benevolent tailor Edgwyn Wyle to find the second half of the key to her kingdom’s restoration.

StoneKingdom

My rating: 8/10

I can sum up this review easily: The Stone Kingdom is great, but not quite as great as its predecessor. It was a quick and pleasant read, which I enjoyed from beginning to end, but it didn’t leave quite as large an impression in me as The Swan Prince did. Even so, it’s a fine book in its own right and is very much worthy as a sequel, so I’d very much recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the first book.

This time, the story follows Ursula’s daughter, Rosalba, as she strives to free her kingdom from a witch’s spell. Everyone but Rosalba has been turned to stone, leaving it up to this spoilt and sheltered princess to save the day; as it soon turns out, she can only do so by finding and marrying her one true prince.  Rosalba teams up with Edgwyn Wyle, a journeying tailor, in order to find her prince and save her kingdom.

Like The Swan Prince, The Stone Kingdom is a whimsical affair that manages to be hugely enjoyable despite a relative lack of tension.  The characters all felt real – particularly the main two – and the pacing, if anything, was actually a little better than the previous book. You really get to feel Rosalba’s frustration as she fruitlessly searches for her one true love, just as you get to feel Edgwyn’s determination to help her succeed.

As for the base quality of writing and editing…well, put it this way: this book was self-published, but is actually better written than several traditionally-published books I know. The descriptions are detailed without being overbearing, and I don’t recall spotting any issues concerning spelling or grammar. Thus, I remained engrossed pretty much throughout.

What keeps this book from being truly magical, however, was its ending. When I read The Swan Prince, the ending took me completely by surprise; I then re-read the first couple of chapters, realised that said ending had been staring me in the face all along, and grinned like an idiot. Here, however, the ending is far more predictable, which in turn makes it much less memorable. It’s not a bad ending as such, but I must admit I was expecting a little more.

My only other criticism, incidentally, involves the story’s opening. I found it hard to believe that Ursula would ever willingly go to the witch who destroyed her childhood; I found it even harder to believe, meanwhile, that the witch would actually help her. This issue was cleared up somewhat in the sequel (being reviewed tomorrow, so stay tuned!), but it still bothered me a little at the time.

The Stone Kingdom is not perfect, but it’s certainly up there. If you’ve read the first book, then I would highly recommend reading this at the earliest convenience. And if you haven’t read the first book, then I recommend reading both. Seriously, they’re both great. Do it! 😀

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