Book Review: The Sleeping Stones

By Beatrice Wallbank

From the publisher: Gruff and his new friend Matylda live on a small island off the Welsh coast, where legends are beginning to stir. Islanders find themselves irresistibly drawn to the Sleeping Stones, a line of rocks like stepping stones out to sea, and Gruff and Mat soon realise they must risk everything to save each other and their community from a terrifying storm driven by an ancient, magic anger.

The last children’s book set in Wales that I read was The Whispering Mountain by Joan Aiken (and that was a long time ago!) so I was delighted to get hold of the ARC for The Sleeping Stones by Beatrice Wallbank. Gruff lives on an island off the mainland that is noted for its occasional horrendous storms, or the Wounded Sea as the locals call it. He helps out on the family’s sheep farm, with his Dad and Nain (grandmother), but things are bad financially and the farm is in danger of going out of business. On top of that worry, Gruff finds his eyes are drawn toward the six Sleeping stones, the rocks that are like stepping-stones in the sea that he has been warned to stay away from. He keeps imagining a person standing on a seventh stone, which couldn’t be real. Or could it? When he meets new neighbour Mat, things get even weirder. When he touches her hand, he gets the impression that the sea is inside her, and Mat seems even more drawn by the rocks and the sea than he is. When Mat (who can’t swim) rescues Gruff (who can) from drowning, the two put their heads together to work out what is going on. Can they stop the mega-storm that is brewing and threatening to destroy all life on the island?

What I liked:

The setting: I loved the Welsh island setting, the rural community, the farm, the sheep. I really loved those sheep, especially Guinevere the master of escape, and I was terrified for them during the big storm.

The story: It’s a good story, with the local myths about the sleeping stones and weeping rocks turning out to be true. I loved that the sleeping stones lured people out to an invisible seventh stone (and to their demise!). I loved the magical items, especially the sword, which was so fantastical. The morgen, Welsh merfolk, was an enjoyable addition.

The characters: Gruff and Mat are both likeable, resourceful characters, and there are themes of friendship and belonging, which I liked.

A few elements in the story were left open, and I would have liked explanations for them! For instance, who cursed Dylan and the blacksmith? Who moved the seventh stone? How did Mat have the sea inside her, when there didn’t seem to be a family history? I want to know what had happened to Mat’s Dad. Also Gruff’s mother abandoned the family when Gruff was little, and I felt this was glossed over.

However, these are minor points. Overall The Sleeping Stones is an enjoyable tale with magic and myth (and completely endearing sheep!), in a wonderful setting.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for the eARC. The Sleeping Stones will be published by Firefly Press on 2nd February 2023.

This week I have a message from TOTP’s very cheeky nephew, Jay, who says he is much better at writing ad copy than his uncle (I think he’s right!!):

18 responses to “Book Review: The Sleeping Stones”

  1. As a kid, I read and re-read the wonderful A STRING IN THE HARP, by Nancy Bond, which is also set in Wales. It looks like I’ll be re-visiting Wales with THE SLEEPING STONES. Thanks to you – and Jay – for the suggestion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t heard of A String in the Harp, I must see if I can get hold of it! Harps have always struck me as really magical, I love when they appear in stories! Plus they make beautiful music! πŸ™‚ Thanks for reading!


  2. I like the sound of this book. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it’s being published in the US. It might be available on Kindle. I don’t normally read ebooks, but I just might make an exception for this. Thanks for telling me about it.

    Liked by 1 person

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