Heart of Stone by David Burns
What’s it About?
Hitwoman Kyra Anastas is a modern medusa, killing with the petrifying gaze of the serpents that make up her hair, but a chance encounter forces her to ask the question: Can a monster choose to be good?
The high saturation of the fantasy genre is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing that fans of the genre like myself have so many options to choose from within such a high profile genre, however the volume also can lead to exhaustion. With so many options inside a genre that lends itself to tropes, readers often find themselves burnt out, while authors find that their book is lost amongst the chaff.
With that being said, I’m happy to report that David Burns’ new novel Heart of Stone, book one in his Medusa Chronicles series, does in fact separate itself from the chaff. The book is a fun combination of classic fantasy and new ideas. Rather than trying to completely reinvent the wheel simply to be able to call his work “different,” Burns injects a tried and true fantasy formula with a modern twist, Making for a well-balanced combination. Multi-faceted, nuanced characters, and a classic, immersive world with a unique setting full of rich detail and imagination make for a riveting triumph of urban fantasy.
Burns’ novel poses the question: Can a monster choose to be good? That’s the question facing Kyra Anastas. With snakes for hair and a gaze that turns men to stone, Kyra is a modern-day Medusa, making a living in Chicago as a hitwoman for hire. Feared and hated even by her fellow Mythic, she lives a solitary and bitter existence until a dying millionaire asks Kyra to protect her daughter from supernatural dangers. Eager to be more than just a dealer of death, Kyra takes the job. But the road to redemption will force Kyra to face all her demons– not just the monsters chasing them across the Windy City, but also the horrors that haunt her own evil past.
CLASSIC FANTASY AND NEW IDEAS
My favorite aspect of the novel is without a doubt the characters, their development and depth and the first person narration. First person narration is rare in the genre as fantasy tends to lend itself more towards plot-driven stories than character-driven, but in this case Burns, specifically through the protagonist Kyra, does an excellent job generating interest in the characters themselves while keeping the story on-pace and developing the world he’s created. I particularly enjoyed Kyra’s journey and empathized with her desire to change. The first-person narration greatly facilitated this and I believe anything else would have been less effective.
The excellent cast would not be complete with the brilliant prose. Burns’ writing style reminds me heavily of that of Rick Riordan’s The Lightning Thief, simple and easy to digest whilst retaining the depth, nuance and elegance found in fantasy written for older audiences. This is also part of what I believe makes the novel so successful. Because the excellent writing is equally appealing to both younger and older audiences, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Just as the Lightning Thief, marketed as YA fantasy, became a world wide phenomenon, I believe Heart of Stone will appeal to readers of all backgrounds.
Heart of Stone is not only the perfect read for fantasy fans waiting for their favorite authors to pen the next entries in other series, but a great novel in its own right. I look forward to the next novel in the Medusa Chronicle series, and after reading it, you will as well.
Publish Date: 9/5/2023
Author: David Burns
Page Count: 272 pages
Publisher: Woodhall Press