Stone and a Hard Place

Stone and a Hard Place
Title: Stone and a Hard Place
Categories: ,
Published: March 16, 2015
Author's Twitter: @Dragonwriter11
Dr. Alastair Stone, Occult Studies professor and powerful mage, has his hands full trying to keep the two sides of his life separate as he trains a new apprentice, deals with a malevolent entity trapped in the basement of a wealthy old woman’s massive home, and battles dark mages intent on enslaving it for their own ends. Debut novel of the Alastair Stone Chronicles series.

Assessed for 

Books in this series:
The Source
The Forgotten
The Threshold3
Core of Stone5

Awesome Indies Awesome Indies Book Awards

2 Reviews

  1. Reviewed by Katt Pemble

    June 22, 2016

    4 Stars

    Professor Alistair Stone is a powerful mage, teaching occult studies to mundane (non magical folk) students. When he takes on Ethan, a young mage, as a favour to one of his mage colleagues and friends, Dr Stone embarks on a journey of self discovery as much as Ethan.

    The character of Alistair Stone was reasonable, I liked his personality and methodical approach to teaching. He was suitably eccentric enough to keep things interesting, but stable enough to appear reliable.

    Ethan is a completely different matter. Ethan is meant to be 18, but the way he conducts himself, especially in relation to women is more fitting for a 15 or 16 year old boy. Bordering on TSTL (Too Stupid To Live), his character was so flimsy he almost doubled as a tool the real characters used to advance the plot. All his internal debating with himself over what to tell Dr Stone and what not to was quite boring and rather immature and annoying.

    The start of the story spent a lot time introducing the world and magic rules. It was done by way of educating Ethan, but it allowed for the reader to get a solid understanding. It felt a little longer and a little slower than I’d have liked, but I could see it served a purpose.

    The ending of the story was a completely different matter all together. The story was like rolling a giant boulder up a slight incline, only to have it reach the apex of the hill and then have it leave you behind as it roared down the decline on the otherside. The ending scenes were fast, almost too fast, and considering the light style of writing, quite dark and sinister.

    The ending left me feeling like it was more of an anti-climax than a climax. The unanswered plot threads left to dangle in the smoke and haze, intending to lure you onto reading the next book. While the main story plot was completed, these smaller threads were left unanswered, almost like a tiny little hook. Daring the reader to take a bite out of book #2.

    The story was interesting and engaging, the writing style mostly light and extremely easy to read. R.L. has a solid grasp on good English and uses those skills to keep the reader interested in the story. If you’d like to try an urban fantasy story with some sinister dark elements, give this book a try. I will be reading book #2 at some point in the future for sure.

    **Note: I was provided an electronic copy of the book in return for an honest review**

  2. King has written a quality book here, one worthy of any publisher, and it deserves to do well. Those who like urban fantasy will probably enjoy it because it delivers everything one comes to expect from the genre.

    Dr. Alastair Stone is an Occult Studies professor and, unknown to the mundane world, also a powerful mage. He’s a little out of practice with combat skills as one rarely needs them in modern times, but when he discovers an unknown demonic force trapped in the basement of an old woman’s mansion, he has to brush up on them quickly. His new teenage apprentice complicates matters when he’s seduced by a selfish dark mage who, with her team of two men, wants the ‘demon’ for their own use. Do these not-classically-trained mages have the power and knowledge to control such a powerful entity, though, or will their overconfidence and inexperience let the beast out and endanger the whole world? And will Stone find out what his apprentice is up too before it’s too late?

    The novel is a little different to many in the genre because, though it never drags, it starts fairly slowly in terms of action. However, taking its time allows a greater depth of character development than is usually seen in the genre. By the time things start to hot up, I was fully invested in Dr Stone who I related to as a very real person. I had a good idea of his weaknesses and his strengths, and I liked the guy.

    Ethan, the apprentice was also well portrayed. The warring factions of the boy’s desires and conscience made an interesting tension. I found myself saying, ‘No, no, don’t do it.’ But in fiction, the easy way does not make the best story, and this is undoubtably a good story.

    Craft wise, the story was well-structured and handled expertly, the character’s vulnerabilities making it always unsure of the outcome, and the relationship between stone and his girlfriend added another layer of interest. The prose flowed well and was generally well constructed, however a few too many very bland sentences spoiled it for me. Most of these began with ‘It was’ or ‘He was’ or something similar. Given the quality of the rest of the prose, these seemed somewhat lazy. Though these things picked up by an editor would not be noticed by most readers, that and the fact that the story didn’t quite make the leap to ‘awesome’ for me, prevented me from giving it 5 stars. This is because, having read a great deal of urban fantasy, I would have liked to have seen it stretch the boundaries of that genre more.

    Perhaps the author will be a little more adventurous with the next book. I’d be very interested in reading it, and I have no qualms about recommending this one to fans of the genre or anyone interested in dipping into it. 4 stars.

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