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Melting Stones (Audio) by Tamora Pierce
Review by Colleen Cahill
Full Cast Audio CD  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781934180051
Date: 01 October 2007 List Price $39.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Publisher's Website / Show Official Info /

I have often felt that, in general, young-adult writers produce better works than those who write for adults. I seek out young-adult books and I find the rewards are very rich. This is especially true in the works of Tamora Pierce, who produces wonderful fantasy books that have an avid following. In the case of Melting Stones, I enjoyed listening rather than reading, as this work is currently only available as an audio book, and according to the Audio Publisher's Association, "It is the first time a manuscript was written to be heard first and read later." Set in the universe of the Magic Circle books, we follow Evvy, a character in the book Street Magic, who travels to investigate why plants are dying on a remote tropical island. Evvy discovers there is a secret at the heart of the island, one that could destroy her and the entire island.

Originally Evvy is not thrilled to be dragged along on this trip to Starns Island; her guardian Rosethorn brought her mostly to let tempers cool after Evvy bruised up a few bullying rich boys at Winding Circle. Certain that the trip would be boring, Evvy was also annoyed that Dedicate Initiative Myrrhtide, or as she calls him, "Initiative Fusspot," is also on the trip. Even though her friend Luvo, a living stone who is the "heart of a mountain," is also along, Evvy feels she will be at loose ends.

Once at Starns, however, Evvy finds there is work for a stone mage, even one in training. The island has pockets where the plants and animals are mysteriously dying; when Rosethorn and Myrrhtide investigate, they find the root of the problem is in the mountain. Evvy confirms this when she delves into the earth, discovering molten rock is forcing its way to the surface. Pushing the magma are wild spirits and the two leading spirits, who Evvy names Flare and Carnelian, make clear that they will soon find a way out.

Rosethorn and Myrrhtide realize a volcanic eruption will take place soon and it is their duty to get the people off the island. Will there be time to get out of range of the explosion or will more desperate messages be needed?

As in her other Magic Circle books, Pierce brings together interesting characters and an exciting story in Melting Stones. The tension of being close to a volcano on the verge of eruption rings through the book. Within the intriguing story, the science of volcanoes is clearly explained, with the only fantastic part being the spirits in the magma. The description of the lush island and the people who live there make this impending tragedy all the more poignant, as it is clear a great deal of good could be lost. It is understandable why Evvy takes a chance that could save the island, even though she runs a risk of not only destroying herself, but the rescue fleet and perhaps several other islands.

The audio edition of this work is truly amazing. Like all Full Cast Audio works, each voice in the work is done by a different actor. This makes Melting Stones more like listening to a play rather than having a book read out loud.

Audio books are a good way to get reluctant readers involved in a book and could even encourage them to pick up another of Pierce's works. Busy adults who want to explore a fun fantasy will also find you can't go wrong with Melting Stones.

[Editor's Note: Melting Stones will be published as a hardcover in October 2008.]

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