Updated: Jan 31, 2022
I’ve been working through last minute edits of The Stone Road these last few weeks, which is the first time I’ve really looked deeply at the book since before the pandemic.
It has been fascinating going back into The Stone Road, and seeing how very much it was set as a balance to Day Boy. The novels work as bookends of each other. Not just because one is about fathers and sons, and the other grandmothers, mothers and daughters.
Day Boy was very seasonal, very much about a kind of ending, and very much, despite its title, about goings on at night. It was about angry boys and their angry keepers, and the odd twists that the society the Day Boys grew up in had taken to accommodate them. What looks like mischief, but is rawer: more malcontent and malevolence.
The Stone Road is about circles, the edges of things, and it is a book of days. It’s at once narrower in focus than Day Boy, but more expansive. It’s the part of that world that is generally too weird for the Masters of Day Boy to handle, so they let people their get on with life, to either die or prosper. The seasons are harsher, but also, somehow, tenuous, as though in Casement Rise nothing ever completely settles into one thing. It’s a fevered region given to sudden chills.
The books sweep across each other, if you’re looking, there are hints and echoes. Stories drift, and change, but you could read either without ever having read the other. There’s the hint of a dragon in Day Boy, there’s the hot breath of it in Stone Road.
Finally, Day Boy was written in present tense (the fifth book that I’ve done that with) but The Stone Road isn’t. They’re both stories that are meant to feel like they are spoken, but The Stone Road is seated very much in past events, it moves a little differently to Day Boy, and I felt that past tense served it better. Mark was always racing ahead, and missing things, Jean is much more reflective, trying to unpick the meaning of the world, trying to get at truths hidden.
I honestly can’t wait to see what people find in this story of Jean, and Nan, and the wonderful Bird – who I adore – and the Huskling King, and the graceful man. I’ve walked the Stone Road a lot in the past month, I’m very excited for others to walk it soon.