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THE STONES ARE HATCHING by Geraldine McCaughrean


by Geraldine McCaughrean

Age Range: 11 - 13

Pub Date: May 31st, 2000
ISBN: 0-06-028765-9
Publisher: HarperCollins

McCaughrean (Pirate’s Son, 1999, etc.) sends a lad through as fine an array of malign faeries, usteys, corn wives, soul-stealing merrows, skinless muckelavees, and other deadly bogles as ever lurked in Celtic folklore, in hopes of slaying a dragon literally “half the size of Wales.” It all comes upon 11-year-old Phelim suddenly, when his home’s supernatural guardian, the Domovoy, appears, calling him “Jack O’Green” and insisting that he better get a move on. It seems that the guns of the WWI have not only disturbed the 2,000-year sleep of the Stoor Worm that lies along the Welsh coast, but have set her stone eggs to hatching out all the creatures of nightmare to boot. Frightened and mystified but gaining confidence as he goes, Phelim acquires some unlikely companions—Alexia, a young witch; Sweeney, a soldier driven mad in the Napoleonic Wars; and for transportation, a headless, ungainly “Obby Oss.” He narrowly escapes death several times, and learns what he needs to know from his adventures to accomplish his seemingly hopeless task. McCaughrean creates a world turned upside down, in which creatures thought safely tucked away in entertaining legends assume terrifying reality, and old local blood rites are revived in self defense: as the Obby Oss says, “Magic is not nice. Magics wuz never nice.” Nor, as it turns out, is Phelim, quite, for at the end he dispatches his trollish big sister to the ends of the earth on a water sprite’s back for placing their father, the real Jack O'Green, into an asylum. Despite the distracting family subplot, not since William Mayne’s Hob and the Goblins (1994) has the Old Magic risen in the modern world with such resounding menace. (Fiction. 11-13)