Sylvie is dying. A victim of crippling allergies, poisoned by the pollution and chemicals of modern life, Sylvie is trapped in a hospital bed while her mother and doctors watch her life slipping away. But one of them offers her a chance. There’s an alternative community – Stonewylde – hidden away behind high boundary walls in a corner of Dorset. If their leader, the charismatic Magus, would let Sylvie visit then perhaps the clean air and green lifestyle may restore her vitality. Or at least give her some measure of peace before she dies. It’s a chance, and when Sylvie and her mother take it, they find themselves in a haven of tranquillity and beauty.
But it’s not all idyllic. The Magus sends a moody, secretive Village boy to work in their garden as a punishment. He warns them to stay away from him – he’s rebellious and in deep trouble. But Sylvie is curious about Yul and, as their forbidden friendship grows, she sees that all is not quite as it seems at Stonewylde. Why was she told to keep away from Yul – and why are she and her mother so drawn to the Magus? Is the crone on the hill really a powerful wise-woman, or just a crazed old hag bent on destroying the peace with her wild prophecies? And what exactly is the magical secret at the heart of this seemingly perfect community?
Lying in a hospital bed, on the verge between life and death, it is clear that Sylvie doesn’t have long left. With allergies, painful eczema and asthma, she is pushing the twenty-first century away and the environment in which she lives in is killing her. But then she is offered a lifeline. Deep in the heart of rural Dorset, the walled community of Stonewylde could offer Sylvie comfort in her last days, or even promise to heal her…
As my favourite book of all time, Magus of Stonewylde and the rest of the Stonewylde series hold a very special place in my heart. These books have changed the way I look at life and inspired me to write myself.
The author, Kit Berry, and I at a book signing in November 2012
Our two main characters, Yul and Sylvie, are both inspiring and invoke a feeling of sympathy so great that the reader’s heart will break for them. It’s not often that in a book with two protagonists of different genders that the reader gets a balance of the two perspectives but this was an aspect that was written perfectly and the reader grows attached to both characters equally.
The book is full of villainous characters that will make you want to hurl the book in anger, but please don’t do that because this book does not deserve to be harmed.
The use of foreshadowing in this book means that the reader gets hints about the future novels in the series.
Written in third person, this book sees many different perspectives which means that a wider part of the novel is revealed and the reader can get intimate with the less important characters (even though they’re all special to me!).
I cannot end this review without mentioning the descriptive and beautiful way that the author writes. When I close my eyes, I can picture the Village Green, with its magnificent yew, and the Great Barn, with the many Villagers gathered around. Stonewylde is as real to me as my own home is.
Magus of Stonewylde deals with many harsh subjects- segregation, abuse, tyranny- and all were dealt with very well. There wasn’t an uncomfortable moment when reading this book.
Please, if you don’t do anything I say again, buy this book and read it. It will definitely be worth your time.
Pink Lady 6316 May, 2013 at 7:28 am
Great Review Lucy! You mentioned this one before so it must be pretty awesome and I’ll definatley be keeping my eye out for it 🙂 It’s cool that you meet the author of one of your fave books.
Tilly Currer6 May, 2013 at 10:56 am
You’re so lucky to meet the author! It sucks that not many authors come to the UK. Great review, this looks like something I’d enjoy reading, glad you liked it.
Zoe Crook6 May, 2013 at 3:52 pm
Oh, so THIS is your favourite book? I should have guessed! Silly me! 😛
I was intrigued before, but now I really can’t wait to read it. I looked for it a bookstore today but I couldn’t find it, so I think that I’m going to order it offline. You are so lucky to meet the author.. I’ve never met an author before, only been to events (ahh.. John Green… *happy sigh*) but there was 1000 people there so he couldn’t meet everyone.
I’ll look out for this book! Thanks for the great review!
Cait6 May, 2013 at 4:33 pm
This sounds so interesting, no wonder it’s your favourite book! I may have to give it a go
Rachel (Booktastic Reviews) :D6 May, 2013 at 5:34 pm
The blurb doesn’t jump out at me or anything but I am really intrigued since this is your favourite book. I really want to try it now!
I’m glad the author has a beautiful writing style – I love it when an author can write almost poetically but not drag anything out, it really shows off their skill!
It’s so cool that you got to meet the author! I’ve not met any of my favourite authors! 🙁 Hopefully I will some day soon!
Great review – thanks for sharing! xD
Jasprit6 May, 2013 at 9:42 pm
I’ve never heard of Magus of Stonewylde before, but I love it when a book leaves such a lasting impression with you. I don’t think I would have considered giving this book a try before this review. So thanks for putting it on my radar! 🙂
Rebekah Campbell6 May, 2013 at 10:07 pm
Dagnabbit!!!! I badly need to start this series…off to the library in the morning 😉 So fantastic that this series is the one that’s inspired you to write, it must definitely be something special.
Fab review, Lucy!
Eileen7 May, 2013 at 12:37 am
I remember how much you were fangirling over the first book so I’m so glad you loved the second book! I’m glad that the writing aspect of this was so beautiful, as was the plot and the character development 🙂 I would be worried at first about the multiple third-person POVs, because that’s a rather hard POV to write in, but I’m glad that it was done well, from what you said.
Fantastic review Lucy!
Kit Berry7 May, 2013 at 11:59 am
Lucy – thank you for such a beautiful review of the first book in the Stonewylde series! I’ve been walking every day in our local woods, where the bluebells, celandine and birdsong have surrounded me and taken me back to the start of Magus of Stonewylde. Just like you, Stonewylde is as real to me as my own home, and sometimes even more real because I go there in my dreams all the time.
It was lovely to meet you twice, and it’s people like you who make writing such a very rewarding job. I love meeting my readers and do as many events as I can. This weekend I’m off to do a talk at a Faerie Festival, of all places. I need to get my outfit sorted out – I have a pair of black wings somewhere.
Tilly – there are a lot of authors who live in the UK! The best place in the world, especially Dorset.
I hope that anyone who reads Magus of Stonewylde (and then hopefully the others in the series) because of Lucy’s lovely review lets her know. She’s so passionate and I’m very grateful to her for such a glowing report. Maybe one day I’ll be able to review her books on my blog! Happy reading, everyone xx