When I caught sight of Melting Stones on my library’s shelf, I was startled—I was expecting to find Tamora Pierce’s newest Beka Cooper epic, but instead I found this companion volume to her Circle of Magic and The Circle Opens quartets. This side story about Evvy the stone mage was originally conceived as an audiobook, recorded with Bruce Coville and Full Cast Audio, but of course it’s just as enthralling in written form as any of Pierce’s other work.
In the world of Melting Stones, Evvy—once Briar’s friend, now assisting Rosethorn the green mage—is fourteen years old and reluctantly accompanying her mentor to the island of Starns to investigate some unexplained deaths of plants and animals. The voyage across water is almost painful to her, so by the time she can magically feel earth and stone again on the island, it’s a huge relief.
But the relief doesn’t last long. Evvy can tell that something is wrong, very wrong, and it might be an important clue to why the plants and animals are dying. Although she’s been told to keep out of the way, she’s stubborn and bored and can’t help but investigate on her own, with the help of her friend Luvo, who just happens to be the living heart of a mountain. Her affinity for stone leads her to discover something truly frightening…but can she move far enough beyond her antipathy for people to enable her to truly help? And how many lives besides her own will she risk in the process?
As always, Tamora Pierce writes a rollicking and absorbing fantasy tale without sacrificing the humanity and realism of the characters. Evvy rings true as a young woman struggling to leave behind the traumas of her past and make something of herself for the future, and there’s a whole cast of intriguing side characters, both human and non-human, to liven things up. Another good one—and I’m planning to check out the audiobook when I have a chance, too.