Hearts of Ice and Stone by Martin Dukes

by | Feb 6, 2024 | Author | 0 comments

Hearts of Ice and Stone tells the story of Laura, a girl who discovers that she is able, under some circumstances, to bring the dead back to life.

The book is dark gothic fantasy, set in a version of eighteenth-century Britain. In this version, if the bodies of the dead are properly cared for, there is a small chance that natural processes may lead to their reawakening, as revenants, to walk the earth once more.

The process by which bodies are preserved is an expensive one, so only the wealthy can dream of resurrection in this manner. Furthermore, over the centuries, the burden on society of the care of the dead becomes greater and greater until revolution simmers and the lower classes threaten to revolt.

They hate the ‘sleep halls’, in which the fortunate dead are accommodated, with a passion.

No one has been able to tell which of the preserved bodies are capable of reawakening until Laura comes along. She can place her hand upon the bodies and tell which have hearts of ‘ice’, which may one day be reanimated, and those of ‘stone’, who are doomed to remain dead until the end of time.

Furthermore, she discovers that she is able to impart the vital spark of new life into those whose hearts are of ‘ice’. Laura’s ability soon comes to the attention of those in authority for whom she is a threat, bringing with her the risk of an upheaval in society. Others see her as a potential saviour.

Caught between the attentions of those who would manipulate her for their own ends and those who would destroy her, Laura fights a desperate battle for survival.

When I set out to write HOIAS I was determined to write something that was entirely original, something unlike anything I had ever read before. The basic premise of the story certainly fulfilled that requirement, so far as I was concerned, although others more widely read than me may well disagree.

I always enjoy ‘what if’ scenarios and it occurred to me that if death was not necessarily a permanent condition it might have rather dramatic consequences for society. The 18th century style setting was one that I chose because I am an admirer of the literature and culture of the 18th/19th Centuries, in particular the Classic literature of that time.

If we are to believe the works of Austen, the Brontes, Dickens and their like, people spoke with an elegance that is sadly absent from much of modern day discourse.

I have read widely of these works and, whether I achieve it or not, I aspire to write with a similar elegance.   I hope that this book will appeal to those who enjoy fantasy, romantasy and historical fiction, since I have tried to ensure that the ‘feel’ of the setting is authentic to my chosen period.

The work is entirely free of ‘spice’ and so accessible to readers of any age that can cope with the vocabulary and style of the writing. My feeling is that the focus on ‘tropes’ in books has led to a great many very similar works being written and published, which, whatever their literary merits, may often lack in originality. I hope that readers in search of a more individual reading experience may enjoy what I have written. 

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