Stone Reading

Unlike you, this teenager got her fantasy novel published

Part Harry Potter and part Baby-Sitters Club, The Prophecy of the Stones is an impressive debut—for a 13-year-old writer. Positioned as an "international media sensation" by her publisher, Flavia Bujor is more of a Tolkien wannabe for the 'tween set. Blending invisible shields and crushes, telepathy and petty bickering, she deploys her three young heroines on a mysterious mission. Jade (bitchy, bossy, just-do-it kind of gal), Amber (emotional optimist), and Opal (cold, indifferent) form a band of gem-holding musketeers thrust into a world abundant with tribes featuring the letter y: Clohryuns, Dohnlusyenne, Hovalyn, Nalyss.

The ultimate battle, set in the distant future, pits the Council of Twelve, intolerant rulers bent on crushing creativity, against the citizens of Fairytale, where individuality and imagination reign. À la Joan of Arc, the girls lead the charge. Among many adventures, they use the eponymous stones to commune with the people of one town the news that the time to rebel is nigh. In another, they escape the talons of fearsome raptors in an effort to find Oonagh, the Henry Darger-esque child sprite who reveals their destiny in a singsong riddle. And they make a deal with Death (described impishly as "a trifle plump" and seriously bummed out) to end her strike, which has left many in purgatorial agony.

Although Bujor was born in Romania in 1989—the year Nicolae Ceausescu's regime fell—and never lived under a dictatorship, the story reads as an anti-totalitarian parable in which the Council deprives people "of their liberty, their dreams, their ambition." Though the writing tends toward the trite, Bujor's flights of fancy and palpable confidence in her imagination carry the reader swiftly to the death-defying conclusion. In her war between oppression and expression, problems are resolved with magic and infinite hope—would that it were so in the present-day world.

 
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