Series: THE SPELLMASON CHRONICLES
Plot Type: Urban Fantasy (UF)
Ratings: Violence-3-4; Sensuality-1; Humor-3
Publisher and Titles: Ace
BOOK 2: Stonecast
The book is written in the first person voice with chapters alternating between Lexi and Stanis, so be sure that you pay attention to the chapter titles, each of which lets you know which character is speaking. This dual-voice approach means that the plot has two separate story arcs: what is happening to Stanis (mostly horrific torture and pain) and what is going on with Lexi (mostly silly dialogue with her friends, but later a rushed and misguided romantic relationship with a completely untrustworthy, amoral thief).
Of course, Stanis never had any intention of revealing any information at all, so Dad has had an alchemist torturing Stanis—physically and mentally—all this time, deep in the hold of his decrepit ship. Also contributing to Stanis' torture is Devon, Lexi's mean-spirited and greedy brother, who allowed Kejetan to turn him into a gargoyle based on promises of immortality, power, and wealth. As you can imagine, Kejetan is in a very bad mood after so much time has passed with no results. He wants the secret magical information held by the Belarus family, and he wants it now.
Meanwhile, Lexi and her Scooby Doo team (i.e., Rory and Marshall) have been working on building up their skills. They know that Kejetan will eventually attack them, and they want to be ready. Lexi has managed to increase her spellmasonry powers to some extent, but not nearly enough to provide any protection from Kejetan and his gargoyle troops.
The plot centers around Kejetan's attempts to break Stanis' will as the alchemist finally subdues Stanis' true inner voice and forces him to follow Kejetan's orders: to get the mystical spellmason secrets from Lexi at any cost, even if it results in her death. Meanwhile, Lexi is approached by Desmond Locke, her father's sleazy spiritual advisor, who turns out to be involved in a quasi-religious organization called the Libra Concordia. That group collects information on questionable miracles that are generally connected to magic. Locke is quite interested in capturing Lexi's father's "angel" for further study. (That would be Stanis, who rescued her dad from a near drowning when he was a child). When Locke agrees to allow Lexi access to Libra Concordia's library in exchange for information about the angel, he introduces her to Caleb Kennedy, a young and handsome alchemist who agrees to help her, even though he has done some very bad things that should make her quite wary of trusting him.
As the plot builds to its climactic resolution at sea, Lexi (as in book 1) performs some maneuvers that are highly improbable (like flying around Manhattan using homemade stone wings after just one very short lesson). The characters of Rory and Marshall are so shallow and forced that they are cringe-worthy, while Lexi's insta-romantic relationship with the devious Caleb just serves to emphasize her immaturity and her air-headed lack of insight.
Although this book is marginally better plotted than book 1, the characters are still paper-thin, and there is still the extremely improbable fact that the human community seems oddly unaware of the gargoyles in their midst. You'd think that the mayor would call in the National Guard to deal with them as they destroy buildings right and left, but no…it's as if no one even notices the damage. Click HERE to read an excerpt on the Stonecast page at amazon.com. Just click on the book cover (top left) for access to the excerpt.