By Charlie Fletcher

Illustrated by Unknown

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Now that George Chapman has upset the fragile truce between the warring statues of London, he has been drawn into a war that will test his mettle. He and Edie, a glint who can see the past, may have succeeded in their quest to find the Stoneheart, but their journey is far from over.

Edie and the Gunner, a statue of a World War I soldier, have been captured by the Walker, and it’s up to George to save them. But first he must deal with the three strange veins, made of marble, bronze and stone, that have begun to grow out of his hand and curl around his wrist. Legend has it that unless he successfully completes three challenges, the veins will continue up his forearm, and eventually pierce through his heart.

As George struggles to find the strength within to face the choice he has made, to take the Hard Way, he is determined to use his power for good-even as others wish to harness it for its great potential for evil.


Text copyright © 2007 by Charlie Fletcher
Cover design by Alexander Garkusha
Cover illustration © 2008 by Steve Stone
Excerpt from Silvertongue © 2008 by Charlie Fletcher

First published in the U.K. by Hodder Children’s Books

All rights reserved. Published by Disney • Hyperion Books, an imprint of Disney Book Group. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic of mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. For information, address Hyperion, 125 West End Avenue, New York, New York 10023.

ISBN: 978-1-4231-3801-3


With all my love and thanks to Domenica, without whom none of this would be possible or nearly as much fun

Wounds are for the desperate, blows are for the strong.

Balm and oil for weary hearts all cut and bruised with wrong.

I forgive thy treason—I redeem thy fall—

For Iron—Cold Iron—must be master of men all!

“Cold Iron”

—Rudyard Kipling


Sticks and Stones

Edie and George hurried away from Cannon Street, happy to leave the London Stone behind them. They were both shocked and footsore, and because both kept their eyes on the hard road in front of them, neither noticed the leaden cloudscape darkening the sky above, or indeed anything that was happening overhead.

Which was a shame. Because what was above was definitely noticing them.

The stone gargoyle on the roof didn’t have to look up to see the storm clouds. It felt the rain even before it started to fall as a kind of itchy premonition right in the middle of its back, high between the spiked shoulder blades, in a place it couldn’t have scratched even if it had had normal arms instead of the talon and wing arrangement its sculptor had given it. Feeling rain coming was part of what it was. When rain came, it normally had a job to do, spouting water on the roof of St. Pancras Station, a mile or so to the north. This was not that roof. On this roof it was hiding and watching.

It was hiding because it was in the grip of a new and dangerous sensation: it was feeling curiosity. It bared its savagely curved fangs and stretched its head over the gutter to scan the street beneath. For the first time in its existence, it knew that it had something more important to do than respond to the raindrops now inbound at twenty miles per hour from the clouds above.

The gargoyle was far more interested in the boy and girl walking along on the pavement below. And as they moved west along the street, it stalked the parapet, keeping down, batlike wings folded behind it, stony tendons quivering in anticipation—ready to pounce.

At first glance, George and Edie looked like any tired kids after a day at school, heading back to secure, reasonably normal homes where hot teas waited and a long day would come to a happy ending.

But at a second, closer look, it was clear that these children belonged to quite a different story.

Look deeper and you could see the marks of that story all over them.

George seemed about thirteen, shoulders starting to fill out, bones beginning to lengthen into early maturity, muscles stretching to keep up with the growth spurt. His hair was unkempt and just long enough for him to have to keep sweeping it untidily behind his ears. His school blazer was torn at the shoulder and all scuffed up, as if he’d been rolling on a very dirty floor. His knee flashed white through a tear in his dark trousers as he walked, and a smudge of dirt smeared along the upper curve of his left cheekbone. The disheveled look was, however, at odds with the steady and determined set to his eyes.

The look in Edie’s eyes was different. She was walking with her head bent down, a long swath of dark hair keeping them in shadow. But in the glimpses of them that George was occasionally getting, he could see that they were troubled, and he could also see that whatever her eyes were seeing wasn’t only what was actually in front of her. Her normally pale skin was even whiter, as if all the blood had drained from it, stretched taut with exhaustion. She tripped on a curb, and only his hand whipping out to catch her stopped her from hitting the ground.

“Edie!” he said, “Watch where you’re going!”

He saw himself swimming into focus in her eyes as she returned from wherever she had been.

“You ever think you’re cursed, George?” she asked abruptly.

George took a second to absorb what she was saying, and why. “You think you’re cursed?”

She shook her head in irritation, as if he weren’t keeping up. “Not like by a witch or something, not like turned into a frog, but you know, like you done something bad once, so bad that bad stuff happens to you because of it?”

George rolled his eyes. “Um. What, like break a statue by mistake and end up being chased through London for a day and a half by gargoyles and minotaurs and all that? Er…yes.”

She shook her head again. “No, I don’t mean that either; I mean before that. Your whole life, like something bigger, something that made you break the statue in the first place, something that screwed up your luck forever, that sort of thing.…”

George had a brutal flash of memory: he was shouting something vile at his dad. He was shouting so loud that snot and tears were flying from his face. He saw the answering tears start in his father’s eyes. He saw the door he had slammed on his father. And he saw that same door opening later that night, revealing the policeman and woman who had come to tell his mother that there had been a car accident, that his father would never walk through that door, any door, ever again.

“No,” he said.

The tough spark in her eyes kindled a little as she cocked her head at him. “Been that peachy and perfect, your life, has it?”

It was his turn to shake his head. “Edie. We don’t have time for this. We need to come up with a plan. We have to rescue the Gunner. If we don’t find him and get him back on his plinth by turn o’day, by midnight—”

“I know. He’s a dead statue. He’ll never move again. I know, George. I’m not stupid.”

“I didn’t say you w—”

“I want him back as much as you, you know. I mean, it’s not just because he saved us and we owe him—”

“We do owe him,” George cut in emphatically.

“I know. But it’s more than that.” Edie took a deep breath. “The Gunner made me feel safe.”

“Me too.”

The first few fat drops of rain flecked the pavement, followed by a lot more right behind them. In no time, rain was falling so hard that it bounced back upward off the slick paving stones beneath them. George instinctively stepped sideways under the cover of a café front, pulling Edie in after him. They had the wall at their back and the meager protection of a thin awning overhead.

Seven floors above them, the gargoyle on the roof snarled and leaned out, trying to keep them in sight; but all it could see was the pigeon-splattered plastic canopy above their heads. It hissed in frustration and scuttled back, trying for another angle. It stopped when it could see Edie’s feet. It was pleased they hadn’t gone inside the building. That would have been complicated, and it had enough novelty in its head right now.

“What are we doing?” Edie asked

“I need to think. We might as well stay dry while I do.”

“Okay. But you’re right. Time’s ticking away. It’s getting dark already. Think fast.”

They stood there watching the deluge. George tried to come up with a plan. The problem was that first he had to conquer the sick fear that was telling him that finding the Gunner, who had been spirited into thin air and could now be anywhere in the vast city, or indeed outside it, was just too big a task for him. He knew he really didn’t know enough to make a plan. His mind just kept spinning and returning to Edie’s question about whether he felt cursed.

A young dad walked past with his toddler in a backpack. The backpack had a clear plastic rain hood on it, and the toddler was reaching out from its protection and tapping his father on the head with a series of gurgling laughs, as the dad reached back and squeezed his thigh, tickling him. They didn’t seem to mind the rain.

George watched them walk past until he became aware of Edie watching him watching them.

“Do you remember when you were a kid and it all seemed safe because your dad was there?” he said.

It was her turn to shake her head. “Not really.”

He took a slow breath. The only way to rid himself of her question was going to be to answer it honestly. Maybe then he could stop his mind sliding about on the how-to-rescue-the-Gunner problem.

“Okay. I do. Before he…”

He realized this was probably going to be hard to say.

“Before he died?” Edie asked.

“No. Before I messed it all up. Between him and me. I said stuff.”

“Everybody says stuff.”

He took a deep breath. “Yeah, but not everybody has their dad die before they get a chance to say they didn’t mean it.”

He was surprised. Saying it wasn’t as hard as he’d feared. Time passed. More rain fell.

Then Edie spoiled the moment by snorting derisively. “That’s the sooo terrible thing you did? That’s why you think you’re cursed?”

He didn’t like her tone much. “What?”

“So you said something nasty. That’s nothing.”

He didn’t like her tone at all. “Yeah well, it doesn’t feel like nothing.”

Yeah well,” she mimicked, “it’s peanuts.”

He hated her tone. Maybe it was the way she spat the P in peanuts. When you expose a private part of yourself, you really don’t want people to snort in derision. He pulled his dignity back around himself like a protective cloak.

“Oh, and I suppose you’ve got a deeper darker secret, right?”



There was no way he was going to give her the satisfaction of asking what it was. She always had to have the last word. There was no way he was going to ask.

Then she said, “Sticks and stones.”


On Sale
Jul 10, 2010
Page Count
416 pages

Charlie Fletcher

About the Author

Charlie Fletcher is the author of the internationally acclaimed Stoneheart trilogy. He also writes for film, television and as a newspaper columnist. Charlie lives in Edinburgh with his wife and two children.

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