The Stone of Sorrow
The Stone of Sorrow
I will honor my amma, and fulfill my promise to my clan, by finding a cure. I will travel to moonwater and bring my sister home. Together we will set things right, and Katla and the Jötnar will regret ever setting foot on our shores. And if I find Einar, mixer of dust, I will make him eat his own poison.
Told from the perspective of 17-year-old Runa Unnursdóttir, The Stone of Sorrow takes readers to a mythical version of Iceland. Runa lives in the village of Myrkur Strönd, home to a seafaring people who work hard for their daily food and survival with the help of the moonstone. Whoever holds the moonstone is granted the power of prosperity, but its power must be renewed at the moonwater competition at the rise of the red moon.
Runa is the odd girl of the village, with wild icy white hair and pale blue eyes that do not stay focused. She is working as an apprentice to her sister, Sýr, who has raised Runa since their mother’s death. Sýr is a beautiful and powerful runecaster and has possession of the moonstone, but she is also kind to her people and patient with Runa. Runa is unsure of herself and is, therefore, unable to successfully harness her inherited power as a runecaster. Runa tries her best for her sister, whom she idolizes, but wishes for nothing more than to explore the seas.
As the red moon rises, Sýr makes preparations to travel to moonwater for the competition. However, the neighbouring Jöntar clan arrive with their runecaster Katla, rumoured to be an evil witch. Runa witnesses the handsome, half-elf son of the Jöntar chief, Einar Ymirsson, blow a yellow powder amongst the village, putting everyone into a poisonous sleep. Katla and the Jöntar kidnap Sýr and kill some of the villagers. Angry and upset, Runa vows to save her sister and punish Katla and Einar. With her amma’s wisdom and childhood stories, Runa begins the dangerous journey to moonwater.
Along the way, Runa encounters many obstacles that test her fear and forces her to use the power of her runestones. She finds help in the form of Oski, a former Valkyrie who are not always honest with Runa but pledges themselves on her quest. She also encounters Einar who had been following Runa since she left Myrkur Strönd. Knowing Runa wants to kill him, Einar quickly explains that Katla has put his Clan under a spell, killing many of his people in her quest to get the moonstone. Einar pretended to be in league with Katla to save his Clan. He explains that the witch took Sýr captive in order to possess her for the moonstone competition. Runa reluctantly allows him to accompany them on their journey.
Brooke Carter provides readers with a fast paced and descriptive journey to moonwater. The trio continue to encounter many obstacles that test each of their strengths and help them to grow closer as friends and more. Runa overcomes her fears and enhances her powers as a runecaster. Runa's love for her sister and her clan are what drive her onwards as well as her seeking answers to her past, who she is, and what she must become for everyone’s survival.
Carter creatively weaves together myth with realistic aspects of the world that she creates in this fantasy. Readers do not need an extensive knowledge of Norse mythology to understand some of the traditions mentioned, and they can gain a clear picture of Runa’s culture. Most importantly, Carter expresses female empowerment and the importance of self-acceptance. She introduces same sex couples and a nonbinary main character. Readers who enjoy Norse mythology, magic and adventure will find The Stone of Sorrow, with its hints of humor and its complicated characters, a compelling read.
Julia Pitre is a children’s librarian at London Public Library in London, Ontario.