Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Blood of the Stone Prince, by M J Neary, a guest review by Karrie Stone

The author of Blood of the Stone Prince, the lovely lady MJ Neary, is generously giving an e copy away in this weeks free draw. To enter the draw, just comment here on the blog, or in the comments on The Review or Review Blog FB pages.

Good luck! 


From the alchemy labs of fifteenth-century France comes a tale of one beauty and three beasts on a macabre journey through the Parisian underworld. After sixteen years of priesthood, Monseigneur Desmoulins secretly wishes for excommunication. Fed up with sacristy intrigues and tedious inquisition proceedings, he keeps himself amused by dissecting rats, playing with explosives and stalking foreign women. Some of his dirty work he delegates to his nineteen-year-old protégé Daniel Dufort nicknamed Stone Prince, who plays the organ at the cathedral. The gaunt, copper-haired youth may look like an angel, but his music is believed to be demonic, pushing the faithful towards crime and suicide.

To keep themselves safe amidst urban violence, the master and his ward take fencing lessons from Lucius Castelmaure, an alcoholic officer facing a court martial. Their alliance is tested when a Wallachian traveler implores them to entertain his terminally-ill daughter Agniese, whose dying whim to is be buried inside the Montfaucon cellar alongside felons and traitors. The three men jump at the chance to indulge the eccentric virgin in the final months of her life.

Raised in the spirit of polyamory, Agniese has no qualms about taking all three men as lovers. In a city of where street festivals turn into massacres, it's only a matter of time before the romantic quadrangle tumbles into a pit of hellfire. Filled with witch-hanging, bone-cracking, gargoyle-hugging humor, Blood of the Stone Prince is a blasphemous thriller for the heretic in each one of us.

* * * * *

I am a new reader to M J Neary books, a 'Virgin'to her writing if you will . Ironically as I gaze at the cover and its title ' Virgin' seems whimsically fitting. The first thing that draws my eye are the words 'Blood' and 'Stone', rather then the rather attractive tousle haired, heaving bosomed young woman holding a lit candle, and seemingly cautiously, making her way up stone stairs ...
the expression on her face begs the question is this a tale of heroes/heroines or antiheroes/anti heroines?

When I first picked up this book the first thought and old adage 'you can't get blood out of a stone' leapt into my mind and in this I was mistaken for indeed you can, if you are indeed The Stone Prince.

The Stone Prince, Daniel Dufort, is a young musical genius, a passionate, energetic suppressed genius.

A young man who has been through so much in his 20 years that you feel he should be prepared for what the raw, bloody raucous ,violent somewhat hypocritical but always passionate, 15th century Paris and its Cathedral Notre Dame, has to throw at him.

Daniel Dufort, living within the confines of Notre Dame and his Guardian's ever watchful eye , IS sheltered to a degree, but as his Guardian, Monseigneur Desmoulins, is  part of the Inquisition team within its walls, that is a contradiction in itself.

Daniel Dufort has learnt the art of being the useful apprentice to Monsiegneur Desmoulins and yet also his protector. The clergy liken Dufort almost as Desmoulins Sorcerers Apprentice dabbling in possibly nefarious secretive deeds.

It is an irony that they are judged by a Church that condones religious inquisition, and yet sees beautiful, if unusual music as 'Devils work'.

Dufort is a passionate young man whose music is taken from the cacophony and blending of sounds and life he sees around him with the Cathedral walls.

Deep inside though he's lost, searching, hopeful for love and kindness. The physical description of his features being as if carved in stone belies what is below the surface.

This is true of all the main characters to be honest; each chapter is written in the first person by a different protagonist or character if you will , but although they are all very different people, from different backgrounds there is a constant thread within their own individual story of survival, of wanting to be a hero or heroine yet at the same time having that emotional war to be also an anti hero or anti heroine.

When one reads the synopsis one could be mistaken for thinking this is a typical, if that's the right word, tale of good versus bad.

EG 'Men take advantage of a beautiful maiden, hero steps in rescues said maiden and wins the day'....

But the 'maiden 'Agniese is no shrinking violet . I found her immensely likeable and real. Her love for three supposed beasts is a treat.

There's that question ...who rescues who here!?

The character Lucius Castelmaure an Archer , Swordsman and friend to Daniel Dufort and Monsiegneur Desmoulins is a beautifully crafted character , he's incredibly young , yet not, and one feels enormous empathy for him.

All have been through adversity and life challenges which they deal with either with dark humour ,drink , passion , lust, love, anger ,sadness etc or all of the above but always determination to win through, and, strangely compassion in the way each individual perceives that feeling.

Also they can be immensely likeable in their honesty and wit ,whether one agreed in their actions, as the reader or not.

Like the real world we all live in, life is not black or white but so many shades of grey.

By the end of the book I felt enormous empathy for those who perhaps one might not and vice versa. Who here is truly the Devil or the Angel?

They all have secrets; this too binds their stories with a viscous thread, a blood trail if you like.

I found the authors way of writing witty unique, refreshingly earthy and poignant.

This I did not expect on opening the book.

If you want 'derring do' you have it, romance, love, you have that too but you also have humans , damaged humans, for who of us are not marked by that in some form, whom you can relate to. Sometimes that's only for a few pages, sometimes longer.

This is a really well thought out story I learnt too about cultures within cultures in a new way.

The search for identity or the right path affected me and continued to draw me in hugely until the last page.

This is a unique book that needs to be read and I enjoyed every morsel, every sinew, every scrap.

It appealed hugely to my fascination in where life can lead us. Paths chosen or those foisted upon us.

Thank you MJ Neary.

If you want to read more about M J Neary, she was a guest on the Diana talks slot earlier this year. You can read the interview at Diana talks to MJ Neary

© Karrie Stone ( yes, that's my real name

Announcement from The Review Admins.

It is with real delight that I tell you that Karrie has now agreed to join or regular review team.

Welcome Karrie!!

From all of us here at the Review xxx

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for letting me join you all looking forward to doing more reviews! This is a great Read!