Friday, May 1, 2015

The Telling Stone

Scottish Coronation Stone
Maureen Doyle McQuerry’s second novel in the Time Out of Time series, The Telling Stone, leaps right into a cataclysmic battle for the Travelers Market. Timothy James Maxwell, the young hero of the first book in the series, Beyond the Door, is joined by the forces of Light against the forces of Dark, led by Balor, of the Evil Eye, the mythic leader of the dark and demonic race of Formorians of Scottish lore. McQuerry’s description of the battle is filled with the cacophony and catastrophe of a combat waged by humans, monsters, shape-shifters, demons, and spirits, with Timothy, his sister, Sarah, and their friend Jessica, in the midst of the melee. It’s hard to imagine the author being able to maintain the excitement after such an explosive beginning. It’s a testament to her skill with the pulse and pacing of the story that she does just this, and then some.

McQuerry’s story is replete with Scottish and Celtic myth, as well as Scottish history and tradition, all woven together seamlessly in an exciting tale of exploration, adventure, and courage. Readers with the curiosity to do so, are provided sufficient clues to solve the riddle of the map that is to lead Timothy to a very old and revered stone that has disappeared -- the famous Scottish Coronation Stone, or Stone of Destiny. According to legend, the stone, Lia Fail, roars with joy when a rightful king places his feet on it. And thus the story gets it title, “The Telling Stone.”

Timothy, a nerdy 12-year-old obsessed with codes and cyphers, and an annoying prodigy at Scrabble, may be the hereditary Filidh, a special class of Celtic druid much revered by the people as a poet-seer, composer, councilor, diviner, and healer -- a Keeper of the Word, of wisdom, and of the truth. If Timothy is to be the Filidh, he must first find and step on the Telling Stone. The evil Balor, with his minions of the underworld, will do anything to stop Timothy. Failing that, Balor will use his wiles to corrupt Timothy, as he has done with a Filidh of the distant past.

Although Timothy is an extraordinary boy, he is still a human boy, subject to the frailties of any 12-year-old. He is vulnerable to self-doubt, to sudden changes of mood, to blandishments. At the same time he is bright, adventurous, and when the chips are down, remarkably courageous. He is a boy we can all relate to, and we do. And all through the story we hope against hope that Timothy and his companions will lead the forces of Light over the forces of the Dark. Balor is an ancient, odious, and powerful force. Is Timothy up to the challenge? Read this wonderfully engrossing and beautifully written book and you too, can become a Keeper of the Word.

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