Seventeen-year-old Ellie Whitewood dreams of being a doctor and giving back to the grandfather who raised her after the death of her parents. When she receives an inheritance from a reclusive aunt, she becomes the mistress of a sprawling manor.
Selling the property to pay for college seems like the answer to her prayers, but each day she grows more and more attached to the stone gargoyles adorning the manor rooftop.
After finding the Whitewood journals, she learns she is the latest in a line of Caretakers who, with her Sentinels, defends the world from evil. While she is drawn to her Sentinel, Gabriel, and her new life, her future isn’t written in stone.
Haunted by dark dreams and facing deadly enemies, is she willing to sacrifice her well-laid plans and accept her new calling…even if it comes with wings and sharp teeth?
The Whitewood Journals is the first series written by this author and strangely the last for me to come to! I’ve been reading a lot of slow burn starts of late so it was really refreshing to get straight into it with this book. Within a few pages of meeting Ellie she is set on her path and so much is packed into the first two chapters, I really had to check that I had in fact only read that much. Whitewood manor feels instantly like stepping into a Bronte novel with Ellie’s approach up a long and winding driveway to an unexpected and unknown future, however, that illusion quickly steps into Fantasy when we start to discover the manor’s secrets.
As far as ideas for a fantasy novel go, I was instantly taken in by the unique idea of the Gargoyles, or Sentinals as they are here, Ellie’s discovery of the Journals is fantastic and I loved how she combined both her medical knowledge and her knowledge from the journals to bring in a whole new dimension to the role of Caretaker. I have to admit that I did get a bit of a Buffy vibe from Ellie and not just because of the whole “once in a generation thing” – Ellie has grown up completely unaware of her family history and so her snark and her difficult start in life really shape her into something special. We even have a not so great version of Giles in Lucas Ford, although his clear contempt for anything other than himself brought a wry smile as we all have had the misfortune to meet “that person” at a social gathering at some point!
Honestly, I’m not really sure how I feel about the relationship dynamics. I do have strong feelings about relationships portrayals in YA, especially when it comes to concepts of claiming and ownership, however, as Lucas Ford reminds us, they are all still monsters underneath. There also looks to be a bit of multiple choice on the horizon which I can imagine will lead to much exasperation and eye rolling for Ellie in future books! I’m also intrigued by the big bad and what truly is going on in the darker corners of Whitewood Manor.
Flesh and Stone is a great foundation book for the series, I felt that the premise was delivered well and that there was a lot of attention given to detail and explanation of how it all worked. I liked how so much was left open ended for the next book but I didn’t finish the last page feeling put out about this at all because so much had been crammed into story. With a lovely little snatch of an epilogue, things are going to get tricky for Ellie sooner than later!