The Stone man
By Luke Smitherd
- The Stone man
Author: Luke Smitherd
- ISBN: 978-1482643473
- Published: December 2012
- Pages: 318
- Format reviewed: Paperback
- Review date: 23/12/2021
- Language: English
One of those books I missed the first time around, The stone man is the first in a series of science fiction thrillers. It looks like it's already become a bit of a self-published success story and the second in the series, The empty men is out now.
The story begins on one July afternoon in a busy city centre in England as an eight foot stone man shaped effigy appears seemingly out of nowhere. Down-on-his-luck local journalist Andy Pointer assumes it's some sort of advertising gimmick or publicity stunt. That seems to be what everyone else thinks, although there appears to be no sign of just what this immovable statue is supposed to be promoting. And then it begins to move, walking silently through a nearby building, flattening it and killing several in the process. Efforts by local police and even the military prove futile, it simply appears unscathed and unmoveable on its set course, slowly heading towards some unknown destination and just ploughing right through anything (or anyone) in it's direct path. Looks like Andy's just got the scoop of a lifetime, hoping to find out the questions on everyone's lips Where has it come from, where is it going, and what does it want? if only he can stay alive long enough to figure out the answers.
Written mostly in the first person, the book takes an interesting and somewhat refreshing spin on that well trodden subject of first contact, with the enigmatic stone figure providing little in the way of clues. The story slowly unfolds as Andy follows the path of destruction and we are pretty much kept in the dark the same as he is. Andy is a fairly down to earth everyday joe, well drawn as a non-hero and mostly acting in a relatable, if somewhat predictable, manner. It was originally billed as a "science fiction horror" but to be honest I think that's some miss-labelled marketing. It's science fiction for sure, but it doesn't really ever turn into Horror. I mean I know some people die, and touching the thing causes problems for others but it never goes down the horror route, or at least didn't for me. If anything it's more rooted in thriller territory, as it examines Andy's (and the wider world's) reaction to this strange moving monolith. Later copies may have taken that on board as they now say "thriller", although it still seems advertised as an Amazon #1 horror best-seller. There are plenty of suspenseful moments and the writing is good, although a little rough in places (perhaps needing a little more TLC from an editor). Pacing is also pretty much spot on and other than the occasional overly descriptive verse, fairly stable throughout.
I liked how the author casts Andy as an ordinary guy, nothing really special about him except for the fact that he was near the stone man at the time (and something else you find out about later), the choices he makes are relatable and understandable given the circumstances.
The story is interesting and keeps you guessing as to what's going to happen next, while the ending is just perfect - enough to close the book but also to keep things going for the next in the series. There is still plenty left unknown at the end, again we only get to know as much as the main characters do and I really like that about the book, it doesn't give too much away.
The stone man is a fresh take on a well spun tale, with some clever writing, a decent plot and a great ending. Worth reading - just don't expect to be horrified.
Written on 23rd December 2021 by Ant .