The Stone in My Pocket by Matthew Keeley – Book Review

The Stone in My Pocket by Matthew Keeley – Book Review

The Stone in my Pocket by Matthew Keeley

The Stone in My Pocket

I received a free copy of this book.
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A poignant coming-of-age story following a teenage journey into mediumship, independence, 90s pop culture, and a new millennium. ‘The Stone in My Pocket’ is an engaging chronicle of adolescence; a tender family drama; and a supernatural mystery, exploring the passage to self-acceptance and how it feels to be different.

Seventeen year-old Nathan hears a voice crying in his garden at midnight. Later, a ghostly figure stands in his bedroom doorway then vanishes. The crystals Nathan collects on his shelves fall. But he can’t tell his devout parents any of this. They don’t believe his strange stories anymore.

Seeking answers, he turns to Iris: the medium who owns the village bookshop. She reads tarot cards and divines that Nathan’s grandfather is communicating with him from the spirit world. And he’s bringing grave warnings for Nathan’s family.

Review by Lynsey

There’s a huge amount to love about this story. Nathan Love is 17 and whilst studying for Highers at school and bagging a job at the local bookshop, trying to work out why his parents are being weird. He’s also trying to deal with the small matter of sorting his whole life out.

It’s great teen fiction. Nathan has the right amount of mystery and angst to keep you turning the pages but the wider cast also adds to the richness of the novel. There’s the mismatch of friends like Emily and Jonnie who show yet more sides to Nathan’s complex character. Then there’s Iris, Nathan’s employer at the bookshop who opens his eyes to the world of clairvoyance and crystals – which was fascinating for me as a reader as well as educational.

Plus, we also have the Clairvoyant Circle who all have backstories that draw you into the plot further and occasionally leave you feeling like you’d like to have learned a bit more before the novel ended.

The story has lots of hooks, twists, and turns as you begin to explore Nathan’s character. We know that he’s troubled and we know that he’s hiding something and the secrets and twists just keep coming. I particularly liked the way Iris was characterised, almost becoming the mother-figure Nathan needs (and the reader too).

The description of endless cups of tea in the bookshop made me want to go and browse the selections and I felt the relationship between Iris and Nathan and their exploration of clairvoyance is where the plot was strongest. There’s also some really subtle and thoughtful exploration of sexuality and attraction that is dealt with really sensitively and does draw out the rollercoaster of teenage emotions. It’s also done in a way that feels authentic to the teenage voice.

We also touch on Nathan’s school life and here it’s more typical teen fiction tropes: exams, parental stresses, etc. It’s Nathan’s home life that I feel needed to be further explained and developed. Whilst parent-teen friction is expected the resolution of the story seemed to come so quickly that some of my questions felt unanswered. A gap here for a sequel? I hope so as I really loved Nathan!

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Matthew Keeley

Matthew Keeley

Writing and reading have been life-long passions for me. I studied English Literature and Film & TV Studies at the University of Glasgow and am currently a full-time secondary school English teacher.

I write in various genres including speculative fiction, magic realism, literary fiction and non-fiction review writing. My main focus is novel-writing. My debut science-fiction novel, ‘Turning the Hourglass’, was released by Black Rose Writing in April 2019 and my coming-of-age novel ‘The Stone in My Pocket’ was published by The Conrad Press.

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