In the land of the great red sun, dogs sing, wolves kill, humans serve, and wolf-shifters rule with magic and menace. Pietre is a human boy who has spent the last thirteen years afraid of the sunset, the Blødguard, and the wolf-shifting masters who rule his world. Wittendon is a werewolf prince who has spent the last nineteen years afraid of his father, his inability to do magic, and the upcoming tournament he's sure to lose. But when Pietre finds an orphaned pup in the woods and Wittendon is forced to arrest the boy's father soon after, both of them begin to realize that keeping the rules might be just as terrifying as breaking them. Now serf and master must learn to cut through their own prejudices and work together in order to turn their world before it turns on them.
Grey Stone is a story of dogs who talk, wolves who kill, and a stone that—for better or worse—can change all that.
Well, this was a unique tale! I’ve honestly never read anything like it. The whole idea was very creative and…different.
This is a werewolf story, but before you say, “Ew, gross, no. Not one of those” let me assure you this is NOT some cheesy, romantic interpretation of werewolves. (Because just…no. Not my thing.) These are proper, vicious, epic, shapeshifting people who’d probably eat you if you tried to pet them, no matter how cuddly and soft their fur may appear. They’ve got super powerful magic and live for like a badrillion years and are horrible and awesome at the same time! I didn’t know I could actually like werewolves…? But these were really cool!
In this world, there are four main species—the werewolves, the normal wolves, the dogs, and the humans. The werewolves rule. Not as in they’re cool, man (though I suppose they’re that, too), but as in they actually rule. Like, reign over and oppress the entire world type of rule. Fun times, fun times. Then you got the wolves who are a little below the werewolves, then the dogs, then the poor humans who live in cramped little villages and should really probably bathe more. But, ya know, they CAN’T worry about personal hygiene because they’re too busy working to death for the werewolves and living in awful close quarters and, oh yeah, they’ll get eaten by wolves if they go outside at night. We will not judge them for forgetting to shower now and again.
All the species are very human-like because they can talk, wolves and dogs included. The werewolves basically are human, being as how one of their forms are, well, human. Their other form is wolfish, but they still walk on two legs and all that. And they can turn from wolf-form to human-form at will at any time, which is good fun. Like I said, the werewolves were really cool. Buuuut I wasn’t wild about the talking dogs/wolves bit.
I haven’t really read many talking animal stories, so I didn’t realize this about myself, but I don’t think I like them much. Then again, Narnia is one of the greatest creations on this earth. And there were cats in this story that talked as well, and I loved that part. So maybe it’s something about talking dogs…? I don’t know. I think I’ve been exposed to too many overly-cheesy talking dog movies that perhaps turned me off the idea. Either way, the talking dogs just weren’t my thing. I couldn’t get into that aspect. BUT. This is an entirely “it’s me, not you” deal. The authors did a wonderful job portraying the dogs and weaving their story into the overall plot. I’m just personally not a fan of talking dogs…apparently.
Speaking of the plot…
The plot was MAGNIFICENT! It’s a royal-and-peasant-come-together-to-bring-down-corrupt-government type of tale, which I’m always a fan of. There’s a reason the dogs and wolves can talk and the humans are oppressed and the werewolves rule and all the thiiings. There’s basically a reason for everything. (But spoilers, sweetie.) And the DEPTH of this plot! There was so. very. much. going on. The plot made me think. I love when plots do that! It was no straight line of a plot. More like a looping, tangled mess of murder and secrets and scandals and revelations. Ah yes, good times.
There were also many a twist and reveal, one or two that I was not expecting. Let’s have a big HUZZAH for fun plot twists!
Now sometimes the plot was a bit…odd. Just the whole feel of the story was very different. But it certainly kept me turning the pages!
Obviously we must discuss the characters. This book had some precious babies.
Pietre and Humphrey are two of our main characters. Pietre is a 13 year old, little human boy who just needs to be hugged and protected. BECAUSE HE IS PRECIOUS. He’s sweet and adorable and still very often totally a playful, curious little thing, but he’s got a good heart! And even though his life is basically THE. WORST. he still pushes on and finds his bravery.
Then we’ve got Humphrey who is, in fact, a dog. Even though the talking dog bits weren’t my favorite, they were masterfully done. Humphrey was a dog, through and through. Sure, he can talk and had human-like intelligence, but he’s also mischievous and playful and hyper, and all around dog-like.
You put these two together and EVERYTHING IS ADORABLE. They’re seriously the cutest things—a boy and his dog.
And then there’s Wittendon. Oooh, Wittendon. MY FAVORITE. He’s our werewolf prince who’s lived his whole life with a blind eye toward the unfairness his people inflict on the rest of the world. But he has a weakness, or what he perceives as a weakness—sympathy. AND LET ME JUST HUG THIS BOY, OKAY??? Poor Wittendon is magic-less, in a magic-centered race. Prince or not, his people do not look at him kindly. He struggles to fit in, and realizes maybe he doesn’t want to fit in anyway. His journey was what made this book for me. And he dominated the majority of the story. Which made me a HAPPY BOOK-EATER because I really didn’t care about anyone else’s parts nearly as much as his. Oops?
My other favorite was Zinnegael. She was so…whimsical. Always calm, if not a bit spacey, and mysterious and all around epic. There was not nearly enough of her. SHE WAS AMAZING.
There were quite a few others as well. Such as Sarak, Wittendon’s best friend. He was hilarious and fun and totally precious. I loved Sarak! Sadora, Sarak’s sister, wasn’t my favorite. She was maybe a bit to…high and mighty for my taste? I don’t know. I didn’t hate her by any means, and the part she played in the story was quite fascinating. I just couldn’t get into her quite as much as some of the others.
Then there’s our main villain, the werewolf king, Crespin, who I DETESTED. Seriously, someone needs to stab that man in the face. A.K.A he was an epic villain, I approve. (What? Hating the villain is fun!)
Lastly, TALKING MAGICAL CATS. You can never, ever go wrong with magical cats. They were some of the best parts of the story. And having cats in a doggy dog world, well, it’s fun. *grins*
There are probably a billion other characters I’m forgetting at the moment. But, needless to say, it was a very cool, diverse cast and I highly approve.
Unfortunately, as fun as the plot and characters were, the overall feel of the novel wasn’t my thing. The narration was rather omniscient—a fair amount of head-hopping going on—and pretty much the whole time I felt as though I was being told a story instead of actually living it. Now, much of the writing was very beautiful, but there was always this slight distance that kept me from ever really immersing into the world. Like I was watching the events through a window instead of being out there in the thick of things…if that makes sense. I like stories that utterly transport me into them, and this one just never did that.
The whole thing also had this rather…glum feel to it. I don’t know how else to put it. The werewolves and wolves were so vicious and horrible to the humans, the dogs were a bit standoffish and selfish at times, and the humans’ conditions were of course terrible. The world was extremely unique and interesting, but something about the way it felt just wasn’t my type of thing.
BUT. All the qualms I had with this book are entirely personal preferences. Such as with the talking dogs. The writing was very beautiful and the world creative, I just don’t think this is my type of book too much. But if it intrigues you, I absolutely say give it a try! Because some of the stuff that bothered me, are things other people might love. It’s all personal preference.
This is a YA book, but it was all quite gory and dark. There are a lot of fights. With much blood and death and pain. So many ears getting torn. o.o I declare by the end of it, every single character had part of their ear torn off. But hey, this is about dogs and wolves. They have TEETH. Ear biting happens. Just do be cautious, because it’s not exactly always a happy book, and you will see much blood.
There’s also much, MUCH magic. As I said, the werewolves are magic-using creatures, and magic plays a huge role in the story. So if that’s not your thing, be aware.
One thing that did particularly bother me was the mention of gods. There were supposedly two gods—the God of the White Sun and God of the Red Sun. At first it seemed like that was going to be a pretty big factor in the story, but after the beginning the whole mention of the gods kinda fizzled out. I got the impression some characters even thought they were more myths than anything. Still, I’m never happy of the idea of fake gods.
There’s also a plot thread that involves someone having intimacy out of wedlock in their past. Now, it was only hinted at, never even sort of shown, and happened before the current events of the story. So it was handled delicately and didn’t bother me too much, but I want you guys to be aware of things before diving into any book I recommend. And, kinda similar to this, there’s mention of a wolf breeding with other wolves and dogs. I didn’t really know how to feel about this. Because they are wolves and dogs, but they’re also…rather human-ish intelligent-wise in this story so…? I don’t know. It was just kinda weird…
What I was very happy to see was the fact that there’s wasn’t a stitch of foul language. And, though there was a touch of romance, the overall plot took complete dominance, and the romance was mostly in the background. I feel like that’s usually the opposite with YAs… Huzzah for YAs that have plots other than romance!
At 338 pages, this book may appear kinda long, but once you start reading, it’s not at all. The pacing is action-packed, with surprises and intrigue on every page. If anything it could have stood to be LONGER. Some scenes I felt were almost too fast. But it kept me reading, that’s for sure! I will say, the last half of the book is much better than the first half. For the first whole half of the book I wasn’t sure how into it I was, but then once I got to the halfway mark I had a hard time putting it down. And the CLIMAX. It. Was. Epic. Like keep-me-up-late-reading-even-though-I-had-to-get-up-early-for-work-the-next-day kinda epic. I JUST HAD TO FINISH IT.
Overall, I didn’t love this story, but I had an enjoyable time reading it. The plot was excellent, the premise unique, the characters a lot of fun. It’s the kind of book I feel like young boys would absolutely love. (Though due to the content maybe not too young.) It’s fast, and action-packed, and, ya know, has cuddly/killer werewolves. How can you go wrong? Also WITTENDON. JUST READ IT FOR WITTENDON OKAY?
What do you think? Does this story intrigue you? Am I the only one who’s just not a talking dog person??? And how do you feel about werewolves? Magical cats??
NOTE: I received a free ebook copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.