Celia Rees

The Stone Testament

The Stone Testament cover

Praise for The Stone Testament

The Guardian, 1st December 2007 – Mary Hoffman

When fantasy writers plunder mythology for apocalyptic scenarios or dark realms, it’s usually the Norse and Celtic they go for. After all, the Norsemen had that very useful concept "Ragnarök". And the Celts had Arawn of Annwn, who regularly turns up in speculative fiction, in spite of the spelling and pronunciation difficulties.

But Celia Rees has, unusually, chosen a Mayan setting for her remarkable novel The Stone Testament. She uses the prophecy that comes with their "Long Count", which began about 5,000 years ago and predicted that the world will end in December 2012. And if you were looking for easy names, Mesoamerica would not be your first choice of culture.

Rees doesn’t usually do fantasy, apocalyptic or otherwise. She is well-known for her bestselling historical novels, such as Witch Child and Pirates!, and for another strain of fiction for young adults that combines 21st-century realism with a disturbing strand of psycho-horror.

It is not surprising that, having taken this genre-plunge, a writer of Rees’s calibre would go right in at the deep end. Because Mayan apocalypses are just the beginning. The book also covers shamanism, suicide cults, pterosaurs, evil Mesopotamian gods, busking on the tube, living rough and early 20th-century adventurers and scholars.

In fact, it’s like nothing so much as a cabinet of curiosities, stuffed full of fascinating artifacts and natural objects. While you’re looking up close, it’s hard to see the purpose behind the collection, but when you stand back, it’s revealed in all its complexity.

Financial Times, 24th November 2007 – James Lovegrove

The Mayan Long Count Calendar foretells that the world is coming to an end soon, on December 21st 2012 to be precise. Celia Rees’s The Stone Testament takes this as its basic plot ingredient and then folds a Golden Dawn-like cult into the mix, along with vodoun, crystal skulls, the plumed serpent, and a dozen other Fortean topics. And it’s a wonderful, rich stew she produces.

… a mature novel of breathtaking scope and compelling readability.

Armadillo Magazine Online, Issue 10.1 Spring 2008 – Rhiannon Lassiter

Celia Rees is well known for her spooky teen horror and action-packed historical novels, as well as more recent novels with a contemporary setting. In The Stone Testament she has blended all these elements into a complex and twisting narrative that stretches from a drowned world and a mysterious elder culture to the shores of a twenty-first century threatened by an ancient danger.

… a rich and multi-faceted … very different from the cheap and cheerful magic systems of most teen fantasy.

… a thoughtful reader with a hunger for depth and resonance will devour this book and will find their mind opened to a wealth of other rich fantasy through it. It reminded me of C. S. Lewis’s Cosmic Trilogy, initially because of the similarity of the names Wesson and Weston, but increasingly because of the similar mood of creeping evil and the sense both narratives give of larger and more numinous universe than is usually encountered in the sci-fi / fantasy genre.

Armadillo Magazine Online also has an interview with Celia!