Kayla Harris

Stonewylde Review

The Stonewylde Series

Kit Berry 

Book 1 ;

The Magus of Stonewylde

In many ways, the Stonewylde series is a modern-day fairytale of two teenagers faced with the difficulties of entering adulthood and falling in love. It is a story of overcoming fears and finding one’s inner strength and courage. And yet, rather aptly, Stonewylde is a world away from modern society. A place that time forgot and a community that our modern world failed to take notice of.

Aimed at young adults, this is a series of books that are as significant for them as it is for the older generation too. These books deal with, in great detail the horrors and realities of child abuse, sexual abuse and domestic violence, bringing it all together in a fantasy world of apparent make-believe.

I believe that the author was making a poignant statement when choosing to set the scene in an idyllic, yet large, village that promotes a simplistic and rural lifestyle. A self preserving community of home sourced materials and food. Whilst one half live without modern technology, fashion or electricity, the other half-lives a life of privilege and luxury. I was often reminded of George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ with the blatantly obvious reference to old-fashioned attitudes towards diversity and class, with the classic ‘one rule for one and another for the other’. But, as is the case in ‘Animal Farm’, the underlying point of view of our author is that this attitude and behaviour is reflected throughout our modern life. We like to believe that we live in an equal world, with equal opportunities and rights, but if we were to stop for one minute, think about it and be honest with ourselves, would we really think that were true?

What made me think that this set of young adult fiction is so important to the world of literature, was the addressing of such issues and the educational value it offers. Coming from experience, I found this to be accurate and fiercely thorough. The reader is pulled into the story through the innocent eyes of two teenagers. First we are introduced to the young and naive Sylvie, who sees the world as a place of wonder and magic. This youthful innocence masks from her and to a certain extent, the reader, the true menace that lurks beneath the surface. I admit, I was initially worried that from this perspective, it would mean that I was only going be given a glimpse of this unseen shadowy world and that this almost childish perception was going to continue throughout, thus meaning it would be up to the reader’s imagination to fill the void. But I was very wrong indeed, because then, we meet Yul and it’s through the eyes of this tortured teen hero that we are not so easily spared from the reality of what’s really going on behind the scenes. I have to say that it is the combination of the two that works so wonderfully well and depicts exactly what victims of abuse really experience.

In book one; we face the horrors of child cruelty at its ugliest. It is here that we meet Sylvie who moves to Stonewylde with her mother. Having suffered with an unexplainable illness that would have surely resulted in her death, she is introduced to Stonewylde’s Magus, Sol, who eagerly invites them both to join the community. It isn’t long before she encounters the enigmatic Yul and is irresistibly drawn to his secretive and dark ways. Together they discover the truth behind closed doors as  they embark on a journey and face their worst fears and unimaginable dangers.

Through the vivid imagery and graphic description we experience the pain and torture our victim has to endure. I winced and cried and I felt each and every blow dealt throughout the book. For me though, I found that the author highlights the reactions of the community, the ‘villagers’ and the ‘Hallfolk’, very realistically, capturing the way in which people on the outside looking in would act and treat those already in suffering and this made it all the more terrifying.

There are courses that I believe, young people should all be introduced to during their time in education, such as Protective Behaviours and even The Freedom Programme (Domestic Violence), and if you had them reading these books alongside, I feel that these young and vulnerable adults would gain a broad understanding into the realities of abuse. There are many lessons that can be learned from these books and I also feel they should be promoted not only to our young adults of today, but I feel that the older readers, in particular fellow parents, would find them most beneficial.

Overall, I found the storyline in the first book of the series very enjoyable. It is simplistic and believable, with the clever inclusion of magic and witchcraft complementing the essence of fantasy whilst adding to the suspense and adventure. An emotional and compelling read and I find myself moving on to the next book of the series with equal anticipation.


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