A Feather of Stone (Balefire, No. 3) - Cate Tiernan First port of call with this review is how unattractive is that cover please?! I apologise to everyone who likes it, but really, it looks pretty, well, not pretty. I'm so glad I have the bind up edition with the twins front and centre on it, I can tell you that.
In other news, I was surprisingly really excited to read this installment of the series, which really confused me. Having previously given A Chalice of Wind 2.5 stars and A Circle of Ashes 3 stars, I really couldn't comprehend why I was suddenly so intrigued and excited to read about the characters, their individual and group devolopments, how the plot would hopefully improve and progress and have some answers to a large amount of questions and I had formed over the last two books. I couldn't help but hope to myself that this book wouldn't let me down, and in an unexplainable way, it both did, and didn't.

The opening chapter was a great starting point. It easily refreshed my knowledge of the series, although the constant referral to previous scenes did great on me, and I was impressed at just how easily fell back into the, all be it, still not highly descriptive world that Cate Tiernan has created. As with most of the creative spell casting scenes that the characters have, in most cases, Clio and Thais, I thoroughly enjoyed almost all of them throughout this book, as I felt they had improved, while the severity of each decision made was much more dangerous and the repercussions of these was intriguing to read, especially that of the scene between Clio and her neighbourhood cats. While the plot itself was and still is improving at a very slow pace, the writing style is frustrating me at an equally slow but continuous pace, and this is all down my new favourite bug beerer, the miniscule chapters. As I had mentioned in my review for A Circle of Ashes, the chapaters sizes really got my back up, with some spreading over good lengths and others at 3, maybe 4 pages a turn. Well, Cate Tiernan excelled herself in this installment, as I counted three, yes, three chapters, all less than a page in length. Not even a page. Less than a page. Starting at a third down the page and finishing at two thirds. A third of a 20cm height book. I'm sorry, but what is going on here? And yes, I do get that there are so very many characters in this series and that each need to be mentioned, but those extreme minimal chapters were not necessary in anyway to the plot or the characters at all, other than possibly one. As I suspected originally, these chapters are a problem still and I shall also predict that it will be through to the very end.
As for the other problems I had with this series, the length of each book is still upsetting me. I want them to be longer. I want more to happen in them. I want some independence between each book. I want a series, not a book quartered. Guess we don't all get what we want in life.
The last problem I had with the plot and story was just how many questions I still have, especially over who's trying to kill the damn twins. It's seriously beginning to look like Clio and Thais have been bagged up, closed up tight and every other character thinkable has been entitled to a kick here or a punch there or a lamppost on top of them. This isn't some sort of hero story, I'd like a little less 'escaped death by the skin of their teeth' and a few more answers Cate. Thank you.

However, I bring great and glorious news. There were improvements in comparison to the previous two. Hallelujah! While I felt the others concentrated a lot more on the other, less important members of the Treize, which in some places was greatly welcomed, A Feather of Stone was much more centred around Clio and Thais. I was finally thrilled to be getting some genuine perspectives from the twins, rather than some washed down, filtered out ones from what they'd heard or been told.
While I could appreciate why Clio's characters was on an ever going downwards spiral, I felt as a character, she'd be placed on pause. She'd suddenly become a hard character to feel anything towards or relate to her, and although her attitude towards being a sister changed in a positive light, her genuine personality and eagerness just seemed to have up and left. However, Thais' character just grew and grew and grew. Her attitude improved and became both more positive and much more authority of herself, her feelings became more mature and genuine, and her intelligence and knowledge just soared. I began to get excited over chapters in her perspective. I felt both her joy and her deflation. I could see how much her blossoming relationship was helping with her confidence, and how having a family and sister to support her only made her fight harder and much more strongly for what she wanted and believed in. I don't know if these huge character changes are in preparation for the final installment of this series or whether it's just been done for the fun of it, but my journey with Thais is a fantastic one.
As for other characters, only one has really grown alongside Thais, and that's Richard. I would like to say, I don't condone what he was trying to accomplish to begin with, but I genuinely like his character as a whole. He has mysterious traits that make him both alluring and dangerous, but he also, especially in this book, has a soft and caring side towards Clio with made him much more human to me. And in the scenes he shared with Clio, I seriously felt a lot towards his character; sympathy, jealousy, empathy, even annoyance on the odd occasion, whether it was a result of his feelings for Cerise, for Clio, or his anger and hatred towards Marcel, I felt for his character a tremendous amount.
Of course, though while some characters improved, other's only had further to fall. I was disappointed on how little we got to explore the past lives of the other characters, considering we're three books in and only know of mentionings of past feelings or relationships, rather than some good juicy reminiscing, or some genuine heart felt feelings, positive or negative. Once again, I'm left wanting more from this series.

Overall, the story did improve, and the cliffhanger was of an acceptable standard, even tempting me ever so slightly to start the last book right away, but I resisted. It still lacked enough descriptions and conviction and still continues to feel rushed and compressed to the minimum amount possible. I can only hope that Cate can answer all my questions, give me a good ending, and not palm the characters off into couples like a large number of series endings do.

3 Stars.