When a woman’s desperate screams break the isolation of her hideout, Ailsa steps in to defend the stranger and the wounded seal she is holding. It’s a generous, instinctive act that leads the teenager into an adventure that even excellent axe skills and five years of fending for herself have done little to prepare her for.
The Stone of Destiny is the first in what looks set to be an addictive, epic series from debut author Caroline Logan. It’s rooted in beautifully-drawn Celtic folklore and studded with mythical creatures and mystical islands. And if the lush fantasy setting isn’t enough to whet your appetite, you should meet the characters.
After a lifetime of rejection because a birthmark on her face defined her as a ‘changeling’, Ailsa has little time for other people, though it’s a shock to discover that the pair she has rescued are not people at all, but selkies (mythical seal folk who can change into human form) on a quest to save a kingdom.
Harris and Iona are beautiful, passionate, and – in Harris’s case – irritatingly charming, and sparks fly between him and the taciturn Ailsa from the outset. Fortunately, they are joined by Prince Angus, a human foil for the friction, and the brother-figure they both need.
This author isn’t afraid to put her heroes through the wringer, and The Stone of Destiny has plenty of danger and drama, often coming in an unpredictable and distinctly Scottish guise. As the characters grow closer in the course of fending off attacks, we will Ailsa to let her guard down, but when she finally does, the consequences are cataclysmic.
With its rich world and magnetic cast, this is a story with appeal for slightly older readers who have loved writers like Abi Elphinstone and Cornelia Funke. Every page feels like a discovery, and then it leaves you on a cliffhanger that you won’t want to wait long to see resolved.
The Stone of Destiny, by Caroline Logan (Cranachan)
Roaring Reads was privileged to be part of the blog tour for this captivating new story and enjoyed chatting to with the author. You can read our Seven Stories Q&A with Caroline here, or follow @cranachanbooks on twitter to read more coverage from the #StoneofDestiny tour.