The Stone Guardian by Theresa McClinton
When myth becomes reality, reality becomes a nightmare.
Like any other teenager in America, Ashley just wants a normal life. But growing up in an orphanage for the insane is anything but normal. After endless therapy and increasing medication, her nightmares have only gotten worse.
Probably because they’re not nightmares.
When Ashley’s mysteriously abducted, she finds a reality even less normal than the orphanage. And she discovers something else—she’s no ordinary orphan. Faced with enemies thought to only exist in fairy tales, Ashley discovers she possesses a powerful Maya bloodline. She’s the daughter of an ancient Maya Guardian, whose duty is to protect the Stone of Muuk’ich, an enchanted relic blessed by the gods. But first she must get it back from Sarian, a power-hungry demigod who slaughtered the last guardian—Ashley’s mother. Without the stone, all will be lost.
When she meets Arwan, a hot Belizean time bender, his delicious olive skin and dark eyes make her feel a little less alone. But his gentle whispers and reassuring touch might not be all they seem. How can she balance love and duty when it’s up to her to prevent the rising of the underworld? Especially when the guy she loves might be its crown prince…
I suppose I can understand why there aren't that many out there. Aside from bloody sacrifice and maybe Quetzalcoatl, we really don't know that much about them other than the fact that they've all seemed to mysteriously disappear. It's pretty difficult to directly immerse readers in a culture that they aren't very familiar with, but I think that Theresa McClinton did an absolutely wonderful job.
She didn't make the common mistake that a lot of authors have been making lately by assuming that your reader has at least baseline knowledge on the subject. Some people may. They'll pick apart every little nuance of the culture in play and obnoxiously wave around if it deviates from what they believe to be true. That's how I am with Greek mythology, making it very dangerous for me to read or watch anything on the subject. Just ask my family.
By choosing a culture that has sparked a lot of interest (recently because of the whole apocalypse ordeal), but still gives you some room to tweak a few details to fit the story, that danger is erased. People that know just a little bit about the Mayans from world history classes will be overjoyed when they see something they recognize. Those that have no clue what's going on will enjoy it for the story and all of the new legends and creatures they discover. I think I'm somewhere in the middle.
But back to the novel because that's actually what I'm supposed to be talking about. I loved it. It was the perfect balance between a slow discovery and action packed, leaving plenty of time for both. Every time it seemed like things were starting to wind down, something interesting would happen to pick it back up. It also wasn't so fast paced that I didn't have time to stop and smell those proverbial roses and get to know the characters as people instead of just pawns to the plotline.
And those characters were so awesome. They each had their own unique personality and role in the story without seeming like they were just placeholders to move the story along. I don't think there was a character I didn't like. Tara seemed kind of ditsy at first, but the more I learned about her and her reasons for being in the orphanage, the more I came to like her. She had seemed like a very one sided character in the beginning, but she turned out to be anything but.
I feel like I shouldn't like Jared as much as I do, but there's really nothing I can do about that. He seems at first like he only exists in the story as an extension of Ashley's former life, but he refuses to be that simplistic. I'm pretty sure I just tolerated him up until I started reading those passages from him perspective, but after that, there was no turning back. He's hilarious. Who else would name themselves James Bond while time traveling?
The only real complaint that I have is so petty that I'm not even sure if I should mention it. It really doesn't matter that much at all, but it was still there nonetheless. It's just that I never thought that Ashley's name fit her very well. In the beginning, when I matched her physical description to the cover model, neither of them really seemed like an Ashley. I know, nit-picky, but what are you gonna do? Then as the story kept going on, because she's the main character, I guess I didn't hear her name matched to her enough because every time someone said "Ashley," I was like "What? Wait. Who?"
I know that's pathetic, but it really didn't bother me that much because it didn't come up that often. And the story itself and the characters that live in it are what I'm supposed to fall in love with, not their names. She could have been called Fabiana for all I care.
I am really excited to read the next book because of all of the unanswered questions I have, like how Arwan's ancestry is going to affect things, and exactly who Ashley's father is and why he decided to leave her at the orphanage. I guess I'll just have to wait and see!
Here was my favorite passage in the novel, from a character that I really hope we see more of:
After a silent moment, Drina whopped him on top of his head with a stick. Arwan jumped and rubbed the sore spot on his scalp. "Is enough of feeling bad for yourself," Drina scolded, waving the stick in his face, her wrinkles puckered into a scowl. Grunts pushed out of her throat as she got to her feet and stared down at him.
"What was that for?" Arwan asked. The woman had lost her mind.
Drina grabbed him by his earlobe and pulled him off the ground. "Pitiful boy sits. Does nothing but rolls in mud like an elephant in the heat." Arwan stumbled under her head, half crouched while Drina dragged him out of the hut and to the bank of a stream.
When she finally let go, Arwan stood up straight, nearly two heads taller than her. He rubbed his ear without the slightest clue how to respond. Drina was a lot of things, but insane was never on the top of the list. Something had set her off, and Arwan knew well enough to shut his mouth and listen.
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A copy of the novel was provided to us in exchange for an honest review.