The Prophecy of the Stones, by Flavia Bujor (Hyperion, 2004)

Jade, the daughter of the powerful Duke of Divulyon. Amber, a simple country girl. Opal, an intellectual, artistic city girl. Under normal circumstances, these three teenagers would never have met, never have been forced to travel together, never been forced to run from powerful forces bent on controlling or destroying them. But these are not normal circumstances. When each of the three turns fourteen, they’re given a magical gem, each matched to her namesake, and told where to go to meet the other two girls, and thus, a prophecy flares to life. Until now, their lives have been lies, their destinies hidden, their purposes kept secret for ancient reasons. But what enemy lies in their future, affecting their movements from afar, and how does it all tie into the mystical realm known as Fairytale? And what does all of this have to do with a young woman named Joa, struggling for her life in a hospital bed in modern-day Paris?

Originally published in 2002, 15-year-old French author Flavia Bujor’s first novel, The Prophecy of the Stones, has met with great success in Europe, and is now available here in the United States. On the basis of its best-selling status elsewhere, and the cover copy, I was more than prepared to enjoy this book. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to its promise. Plain and simple, this book was written by a 13-year-old, and it reads like it was written by a 13-year-old. There’s an immense amount of potential here, but it’s lost in the weak plotting, shallow characterization, and somewhat haphazard pacing. Not having read the book in its original language, I don’t know whether the book’s faults are its own, or in part due to translation from French into English. The bottom line is that while The Prophecy of the Stones is a worthy effort, it didn’t grab me at all, and its qualities are outweighed by its flaws. It may appeal to a younger age group, but those expecting a more mature or smoother story will be disappointed. I think this may be a case of publishers attempting to recreate the lightning in a bottle effect of Harry Potter, and falling short by aiming too low. While I wish the best for the author, I likewise hope that this early success in her career doesn’t stop her from continuing to hone her craft. For now, give this one a pass until it comes out in paperback.

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