Heart Of Stone
C. E. Murphy
Published 2007 438 pages
Summary (from book jacket)
What secrets lie shrouded in darkness?
Okay, so jogging through Central Park after midnight wasn't a bright idea. But Margrit Knight never thought she'd encounter a dark new world filled with magical beings - not to mention a dying woman and a mysterious stranger with blood on his hands. Her logical, lawyer instincts told her it couldn't all be real - but she could hardly deny what she'd seen - and touched.
The mystery man, Alban, was a gargoyle. One of the fabled Old Races who had hidden their existence for centuries. Now he was a murder suspect, and he needed Margrit's help to take the heat off him and find the real killer. And as the dead pile up, it's a race against the sunrise to clear Alban's name and keep them both alive.…
Heart Of Stone is the first novel in a new contemporary fantasy trilogy by C. E. Murphy (author of the Urban Shaman fantasy trilogy and several Silhouette romances too.) The premise behind Heart Of Stone is that there are five Old Races – gargoyles, dragons, djinn, selkies and vampires – struggling to survive in a world filled with humans. Humans are not aware of the existence of the Old Races but this all changes for Margrit, a Legal Aid lawyer, when Alban, a gargoyle suspected of murder, stops to speak to her one night when she is running in the park.
Once Margrit becomes aware that gargoyles are real - creatures of a separate species that can take the form of humans or winged gargoyles at will by night but return to stone by day - it isn’t long before she finds herself in the company of selkies, dragons, djinn and vampires too.
Heart Of Stone focuses firmly on Alban and Margrit’s fledgling relationship. Margrit believes Alban is innocent but once she realizes he isn’t human she knows he can’t go to the police and clear his name. This means most of the plot follows Margrit as she tries to piece together why someone is killing women in the park and trying to frame Alban for the crimes. While there is a romantic element to Heart Of Stone, the story is contemporary fantasy rather than paranormal romance, so the romance is fairly low key and something of a slow burner without a HEA in this book.
Heart Of Stone itself is something of a slow burner, the book is 438 pages long and it gets off to a slow start but once the story gets going it is entertaining enough to suck the reader into Margrit’s exciting new world. Several characters and plot lines are introduced during the story and are not resolved by the end of the book leaving some mysteries still to be explained (presumably these are part of a longer story arc that will be the basis of further books in this series.)
As a vampire fan, I have to be honest and say that vampires only had a tiny part in this story. The vampires are one of the Old Races, so they are a separate species from humans and are born rather than undead - and they can go out in the day. This is pretty much all the information that readers find out about vampires in Heart Of Stone. Hopefully there will be more vampire action in the following books – certainly the vampire character in this story is sufficiently intriguing that I would be disappointed not to find out more about him and the vampire race.
Heart Of Stone is a good, if slightly slow, start to C. E. Murphy’s new contemporary fantasy series. There is plenty here to entertain and intrigue fantasy fans. A likeable protagonist, a stolid (yet sexy) gargoyle and a mystery plot line that has enough twists and turns to keep the reader guessing right up to the very last pages and still leave them wishing for more.
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