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Reviewed by Jessica Barbosa for Readers' Favorite
Stone Circle by Kate Murdoch is set in Pesaro, a town that gleans insight from its Seer, Savinus di Benevento, who is known for his knowledge in both academic and magical matters. The plot centers around Antonius, son of a fisherman, who has the same ability as the town’s Seer and is apprenticed by him, along with another young man, Nichola Valperga, son of the Conte, who is of a higher social standing than Antonius and looks down on him because of it. Their difference in abilities, social standings, and their affection for the Seer’s daughter, Giulia, sparks a rivalry that shapes both their futures and leads them down a path of choices they cannot come back from.
Antonius is a hardworking young man, doing his best to keep his family going after the loss of his father. Nichola is arrogant and self-entitled because of his stature and past. Giulia is headstrong, smart, and yet can be blinded by her heart’s desires. Kate Murdoch’s characters are so greatly human, that it’s easy to sympathise with them: to cheer them on during hard times and to admonish them for being foolish. Her characters’ interactions with each other and their individualities helped shape the book into something wonderful; at the same time she excels at pacing the story with her characters, all within a framework designed to help readers understand the world of seers and alchemy she has created.
Aside from the tension-filled rivalry between Nichola and Antonius, her story also gave me a glimpse of how the lower class, the simple-minded, and the women lived in the past, which only added to the appeal of the overall plot and strengthened the story’s quality. Overall, the Stone Circle is an excellent work that I would definitely recommend to historical fiction fanatics everywhere.