THE PROPHECY OF THE STONES
Flavia Bujor, , trans. from the French by Linda Coverdale. . Hyperion/Miramax, $16.95 (386pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-1835-8
Written when the Romanian-born Bujor was 13 (now 15, she lives in France), this fantasy merits interest chiefly because of its author's tender age. In an old-fashioned realm, three 14-year-old girls from very different stations in life are brought together by three magical stones and an ominous Prophecy ("One will discover the Gift. One will recognize the King. One will convince the two others to die," as readers are told late in the game). They are being watched by the telepathic Thirteenth Councilor, who rules over the land of Nathyrnn and has designs on the neighboring realm of Fairytale, a place teeming with magic. More importantly, the girls are being watched by an ailing orphan named Joa who hovers near death in a present-day Paris hospital bed. In a narrative twist, it emerges that Joa is dreaming part of the story, and her tenacity and desire to find out how the tale ends motivates her to stay alive ("Jade, Opal, and Amber... Strange!" she thinks. "The initials of their names formed my nickname, Joa"). The prose and the plotting, exceptional for a teenager, may seem mannered or conventional by other standards (heroines struggling with their personal identity, a "chosen one," an epic good versus evil showdown, etc.). Ages 10-up.
Reviewed on: 03/01/2004