STONE OF FIRE (Arkane #1) | by J.F. Penn
Previously published as Pentecost
213 pages | Amazon purchase – Kindle edition
A power kept secret for 2000 years. A woman who stands to lose everything.
India. When a nun is burned alive on the sacred ghats of Varanasi, and the stone she carried is stolen, an international hunt is triggered for the relics of the early church.
Forged in the fire and blood of martyrs, the Pentecost stones have been handed down through generations of Keepers who kept their power and locations secret.
The Keepers are being murdered, the stones stolen by those who would use them for evil in a world transformed by religious fundamentalism.
Oxford University psychologist Morgan Sierra is forced into the search when her sister and niece are held hostage. She is helped by Jake Timber from the mysterious ARKANE, a British government agency specializing in paranormal and religious experience. Morgan must risk her own life to save her family, but will she ultimately be betrayed?
From ancient Christian sites in Spain, Italy and Israel to the far reaches of Iran and Tunisia, Morgan and Jake must track down the stones through the myths of the early church in a race against time before a new Pentecost is summoned, this time powered by the fires of evil.
The first in the ARKANE series, STONE OF FIRE is a fast-paced thriller that explores the edges of faith against a backdrop of early Christian history, archaeology and psychology. – GOODREADS
I can’t quite remember how I heard about Stone of Fire, but I do know I picked it up from Amazon. As soon as I saw the cover it had me hooked. It looked exciting and I’m a sucker for a good cover.
The book starts off well as we are witness to the tragedy of a poor old lady being robbed of a sacred stone. Her demise was a strong start that made me want to know why such a thing could happen.
Soon after, our heroine, Morgan, is introduced to the story. She also has a stone and we find that there’s no shortage of others who want it at all costs. As a result, her family get caught up and the thriller plot line begins to reveal itself.
At this point I became a tad confused, especially when a package arrived and was opened in the immediate aftermath of a turning point in the plot. I had lost the ability to know who was on her side. With so many motives and plot lines revealing at once, I think I was overwhelmed by the influx of multiple characters and groups. It took a while for me to refocus and understand the role of the other main character, Jake.
Thankfully, everything was clarified at about 30% in. I was back on board and ready to continue. As the drama unfolded I found it to be quite heavy in places with religious history. A lot of it went straight over my head, but I retained enough to be able to understand the importance of some events and locations. The wonderful settings of this book definitely evoked great memories of my travels through Italy. The descriptions were vivid and I had no problems visualising the locations.
One major plot twist (not telling what) that occurred was expected, and it helped Morgan realise that there was only one person she could truly trust and rely on. At the end, there was a fitting climax when each thread of the plot led to the final scenes. The climax itself left a few small loose ends and lingering doubts as to what she actually witnessed. Cue, the continuing series.
At times, I did find that the historical religious detail a bit overwhelming, but it was an entertaining read. It’s thoroughly researched and set in some spectacular locations. One thing stood out. Morgan’s family was her motivation, not the legendary power of the stones.
Note: I don’t claim to be a pro-reviewer, I am a reader. My reviews are based on my personal thoughts around the story that the book is trying to tell. I try to focus on the story (which is the reason I read) rather than dissect the book and pass comment on typos, writing style or structure.
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