Heart of Stone is the sequel to Mistress of the Storm, which I reviewed here last year. We rediscover Verity Gallant, young unassuming heroine-in-spite-of-herself, still getting into all sorts of trouble and adventures with her friends Henry and Martha in the quaint, slightly olde-worlde-feeling coastal town of Wellow. Verity would be more than happy to go back to a quiet life, sailing with her friends and playing with her baby sister (now aged one) after the excitement and danger that she experienced in the first book, but her destiny has other ideas for her !
Many of the characters who showed up in the first book put in an appearance again - including the dashing Jeb, the efficient librarian Miss Cameron, the snooty Miranda Blake at school, the mysterious Abednego, Verity's enigmatic Gentry grandfather - but the novel carefully fills in the blanks for anyone who hasn't read the opening episode, which means that it works fine as a stand-alone novel too.
I was pleased to rediscover many of the things that I had really enjoyed in the first book - the fast pace and suspense, the slightly Enid Blytonesque feel, the female lead character and the fact that she (and her friends) are experiencing all the confusing things that readers of her age will be feeling too. In the first book, Verity was twelve and having a hard time fitting in at school and coming to terms with the jealousy she felt for her soon-to-arrive baby sister. In this book, the baby sister celebrates her first birthday so Verity must be about thirteen or fourteen now. This time, she is faced with the first confusing stirrings of love and worrying about how this will impact on her friendship with Martha and Henry.
I wasn't quite as taken with the story this time because I thought the evil character wasn't developed enough and didn't have a big enough role in the plot. Once she finally put in an appearance, it was a bit of an anti-climax because, compared to her sister in the first book, she seemed a bit wishy-washy and too easy to overcome.
It was still an enjoyable read though and I'm sure young readers will love following the adventures of Verity, whether or not they have read Mistress of the Storm. There are two more books planned in the series so I'm hoping Verity will come up against an even more evil and fearsome opponent in the next books. I'm also keen to see how the character of Verity and her friends will evolve as they grow older, just as in the Harry Potter books.
star rating : 4.5/5
RRP : £12.99
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: David Fickling Books (5 Jan 2012)