I really enjoyed this book. It gripped me from the start and wouldn’t let me go until the last word was read.
Krisko has a unique imagination when it comes to building her fantasy worlds. This is the reason why I like her work so much. Unlike the Stolen series, though, Cornerstone; Raising Rook takes place in our own familiar world, yet the story it tells is anything but familiar. One suspects this from the very beginning, with the enormously atmospheric artwork on the cover. It builds a certain level of expectation, and Krisko does not disappoint.
You might describe Lorcas, the main protagonist, as one of life’s losers. A graduate in Wildlife Biology and Graphic Illustration, his life is a lonely one in terms of his career choice, his recently failed relationship, and his friendships. With his father dead, and a strained relationship with his mother, Lorcas, who is suffering from depression, decides to take off to his family’s abandoned summerhouse on the coast.
On the cliff above the summerhouse lies the cornerstone, the rock which his eccentric father gave him as a gift on his thirteenth birthday. Suddenly, Lorcas finds himself compelled to collect more stones, in an attempt to rebuild the castle which once stood there.
So Lorcas is drawn into a surreal adventure, in which he soon becomes part of the local community, a group known as the Fell Ken, who all share the same goal. And Lorcas discovers that he is the prophesied Lorecaster, destined for magical greatness.
Whilst all the trappings of Lorcas’s life are normal and recognisable to us, Krisko skilfully and unobtrusively immerses us in the magical, the fantastical. Gradually, the history of the castle and the Fell Ken are revealed to us as Lorcas himself learns them. And strangely, it doesn’t seem unnatural.
Most fantasy stories detail an epic battle between two opposing forces, good against evil. In this story, it becomes increasingly hazy as to which side is good, and which is evil. Whilst rooting for Lorcas, I couldn’t help feeling that some of the actions taken by his new friends are unusual, not quite acceptable. As I read on, I began to feel suspicious about the Fell Ken’s intentions, doubting which side Lorcas is on, yet couldn’t put my finger on anything definitive. I hoped I was wrong.
Whilst the story is complete and self contained, it ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger(pardon the pun, for those who have read it!), implying that there is a sequel in the offing. I sincerely hope so!
This is masterfully written, subtle, convincing, surprising. I recommend it to anyone who loves fantasy, but is sick of the same-old, same-old. Krisko’s writing is fresh and original, and Cornerstone; Raising Rook is as much a tale of magical realism, as it is of fantasy.