The Carnelian: Book One of the Gemstone Chronicles by William L. Stuart

I had this book sitting in my to-be-read list for a long time, and I am glad that I finally set to reading it. It is a sweet, wholesome story perfect for pre-teens who love fantasy. I am not a youngster, but I enjoyed it very much. It’s very clean with not a bad word or even a hint of sexual content.

The main characters are Beebop and Nana (grandparents) and their grandchildren Aidan and Maggie. The setting is the mountain region of northern Georgia where Beebop and Nana have retired to their dream home and Beebop takes his vacationing grandchildren “rock hounding” in the mineral-rich area. They find a special rock where an elf has been magically imprisoned for 200 years, and thus begins the adventure.

True to genre, this tale contains elves, trolls, evil drow, and lots of adventure.  Like in all fantasy tales, there is a quest in which a magic artifact must be found, and the prerequisite theme of struggle between good and evil is also present. I liked the connection made to Celtic mythology and Irish legend. The story is told in simple language which will make it easy for even younger children to enjoy.

Something I would have changed is the re-telling of things that happen each time a character gets separated from the group and returns. This could be handled with a simple "Beebop explained how he escaped from such and such, and then they sat down to eat." I also felt that the relationship between the grandparents and the kids was too idealized, making the story too sugary for older kids who are rather sophisticated these days and require a little more "reality" in their literature.

In summary, I liked the story very much and highly recommend it. I am looking forward to reading the next installment.

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