BOOK REVIEW | THE STONE KNIFE BY ANNA STEPHENS

Good Afternoon Bookish Folk!

Today I am really happy to be sharing with you my review of Anna Stephens ‘The Stone knife‘ and on its day of publication no less!

YAYY!! Happy Publication Day!

Firstly, I would like to thank HarperVoyager for approving my NetGalley copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

A few facts about The Stone Knife:

  • Title: The Stone Knife
  • Author: Anna Stephens
  • Series: Songs of the Drowned (Book One)
  • Published by Harper Collins Publishers
  • Pages: 608

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

A fantasy epic of freedom and empire, gods and monsters, love, loyalty, honour, and betrayal, from the acclaimed author of GODBLIND.

For generations, the forests of Ixachipan have echoed with the clash of weapons, as nation after nation has fallen to the Empire of Songs – and to the unending, magical music that binds its people together. Now, only two free tribes remain.

The Empire is not their only enemy. Monstrous, scaled predators lurk in rivers and streams, with a deadly music of their own.

As battle looms, fighters on both sides must decide how far they will go for their beliefs and for the ones they love – a veteran general seeks peace through war, a warrior and a shaman set out to understand their enemies, and an ambitious noble tries to bend ancient magic to her will.

Review:

Here are a few things you can expect from The Stone Knife :

  • Gods and mysterious monsters;
  • Love, loyalty and family;
  • Bloody battles;
  • Political intrigue;
  • Darker scenes and swift melodic brutality; and 
  • Mesoamerican vibes.

On to the full review…

You know it is always so fascinating reading the works of a new author, and no I don’t mean debut author but an author new to the reader. That is what Anna Stephens is to me, a new author. So it was a delight to dip my toe into the waters of her wonderful writing. Stephens sets up her novel really really well, it was honestly great seeing the many interpretations of the Drowned to start off this story, especially considering they are such a big part of the book. However, what made this book have such a great start was something even more skilful. It was the delicate weaving of seemingly insignificant world facts that by a few pages into your reading have you building such a well-grounded and magnificent world so efficiently and one your imagination can truly go wild with. 

Stephen’s writing as a whole is beautiful, and while I rave about her world building and more in this review that is not its only strength. Stephens prose are beautiful while remaining wholly authentic. If it is your first time reading her writing worry not, her writing is fluid, understandable and very well balanced. She is a brilliant storyteller!

“ It sounded like the sunset looks. It sounded like all the world is there just to make you gasp with wonder, to open your heart so wide that it can absorb all that beauty and hold it and be it and never lose it, no matter what.” 

And the battle and fight sequences are epic, Stephens give you all the action and the impact!

This story is a beautiful one, and inexplicably powerful. It is a bloody tale of gods, monsters, war and death but it is one of family, love, loyalty and faith. Stephens manages to authentically showcase the development of her character’s relationships, though not in a tasteless and too obvious way, and when we are shown just how far those characters have come you truly understand the depths of their actions and the significance of them. 

”She hesitated, then she licked her thumb and pressed it to his temple and he stilled, shocked, before a rush of affection and gratitude surged through him. She had gifted him a piece of her courage, her spirit, to aid him in the war. She had named him family.”

I think this is quite possibly the first book I have read that is written in such a setting too. The lush jungle (even though Goodreads says forests I see nothing but jungle soo) and wonderful cities steeped in such history and lore were beautiful to read. It really gave me Apocalypto vibes, and I would pay good money to see this as a TV series! I want to say that it based off Mesoamerican, as it greatly reminded me of the Maya civilization and/or the Aztecs but I could be wrong. 

The Stone Knife is a larger book, with a page count of 600+ but Stephens used the pages effectively. It has great focus on the worldbuilding and introducing us to this book’s incredible characters. The chapters are also a little longer, though this is actually really well done. When an authors opt for several POV’s they run the risk of not introducing them with enough depth that by the time you next see their chapter you’re not sure who they were. This is not an issue in The Stone Knife, after each introduction you are clear on who they are and where they are.

I‘d rather die fighting than die at the teeth of one of the things after years on my knees for these arrogant shits.”

I think that there are maybe seven character POV’s in this book, but don’t quote me, and each and every single one of them is a thrill to read! I really like that more books, or at least the ones I have been reading, are giving both sides POV. You still know who you are rooting for and who you want to win but all are still enjoyable. I don’t sometimes like it when I see the ”bad guys” POV because you can so blatantly dislike them and you just don’t want to listen to their shit, but Stephens does an incredible job of avoiding that. One of my favourite characters to read was definitely not good and I loved their world bubble, their family and side characters that surrounded them. I think that says a lot about Stephens ability to write outstanding characters!

Something I truly loved about this was the political manoeuvrings and intrigue, it is too often that I see some politically sly genius who always gets their way and they are infallible in their position. Everything goes in their favour until the main character somehow thwarts the attempts through chance, so it was so exciting to see the sly political genius written in a truer light. They win some and they lose some and it only amped up the tension and risk for the characters who are playing such dangerous games. 

A final note of praise for this book too is the ability of Stephens to seamlessly represent the many and not in a ’hey look my main character is deaf” way. Stephens did not need to make her writing shout about character relations or the fact that Xessa had a disability, it was just there. Natural, refreshing and REAL! 

I finished this book in two days, it made me into the biggest book sloth ever. I moved from my reading corner to eat and that’s about it. This book will inevitably grip you in some way when you start reading it and I really hope you do. I am already dying for the next book in this series. 

The Stone Knife is an incredible book. Remarkable characters, a breathtaking world and savage brutality! It is bloody and it is magnificent, so at least add it to your Goodreads!


As you are now aware I rate on a buy the hardback, buy the paperback, buy eBook or library rental/wait for a sale scale. I really need a buy the audiobook in there too now I listen to audiobooks!

Anywho back to the book in hand (mmmm see what I did there?)

RIGHT! Well, I don’t know if you could tell but I really liked this book and I am super excited to say it is definitely a BUY THE HARDBACK rated book. Even better it is also the Goldsboro Book sooo…I am way to excited to get that!

  • The Stone Knife is a world I WILL return to
  • The cover is beautiful
  • It is the first book of this type for me, or at least the first I have loved this much because if I have read any other I don’t refer them at all, so it deserves a special place on my bookshelves!
  • I want this trilogy standing proud on my shelves! I am so excited for book two and the direction it will take!

**Now, usually there would be a delicious picture of my copy (if I owned one) of this book but your girl hasn’t received her Goldsboro goodies yet!


AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!