Stonebird ISBN: 9781848668638
Published by Quercus Publishing, 2015
When Liam is 11, he and his older sister Jess are moved to a village by their single mum who needs to be closer to her own mum who has dementia. Liam is not pleased. Not only has he lost his best friends, but he must face a new school where he won't know anyone. Grandma is already in a care home, and Liam finds it very hard to visit her and see the 'demon' who is 'eating her from the inside'. The visits are graphically explained, and at one point Grandma shouts to Liam: 'Get out! I'll kill you! I've killed before'. He is shattered by this, and when he finds her old diary in a box, he is determined to read it in case he can find out what she meant by the threat. An understanding teacher at his new school helps him adjust, but even she cannot stop the terrible bullying that he faces from Matt and his two slimy friends. However, Liam has a secret he has told to no one. He has discovered a huge stone gargoyle in a ruined church near his home, and this gargoyle has special powers. It can come alive and help those who need protecting. In this amazing novel, we learn how Liam uses the gargoyle by telling stories that the huge bird makes come true, and in the process, he also learns that sometimes gargoyles can be dangerous. The different interlinking webs that make up the novel are many and various, and Grandma, the new school teacher, his mum's growing alcoholism (the 'wine o'clock' times proliferate) and the solving of Matt's problems as to why he is a bully are connected by Stonebird, and it has the answers to all Liam's problems - and Matt's too. It is a fantasy novel with gothic overtones, but the problems are only too real, and Liam's growing bravery and ability to handle not only the Stonebird but the people around him who come to depend on his love and care is palpable. A great adventure, with lots going on, the story handles some of life's great mysteries and gives hope to those who have lost it. Particularly good on dementia and alcoholism, it also has much to say about bullies and why they are as they are. A true tour-de-force which everyone will enjoy and get much from.