The Stones Are Hatching
|Genre||Young adult fantasy|
|Publisher||Oxford University Press|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover, Paperback) & audio book|
|Pages||183 pp (Oxford hardcover edition) and 256pp (paperback))|
|ISBN||ISBN 0-19-275091-7 (Oxford hardcover edition)|
The Stones Are Hatching is a young adult fantasy novel by Geraldine McCaughrean first published in November 1999 by Oxford University Press. It recounts the fictional adventures of Phelim Green and his companions as they try to prevent the Stoor Worm from waking.
Phelim awakes one morning while his sister, Prudence, is away. He soon learns that he is the inheritor of a responsibility to stop the apocalyptic Stoor Worm from waking. In order to do this, he must (overcoming a strong reluctance) rally the three symbolic figures of Maiden, Fool, and Horse, elude the Stoor Worm's monstrous children, and reach the Worm at her resting place. At this he succeeds, encountering various dangers and losing his companions en route. At the climax, Phelim kills the Stoor Worm outright and returns home, thereafter making his sister ride on a horse and making it go to the farthest sea. This hypocrisy (contrasted with his name, which is translated as "Ever-Good"), strips him of his own symbolic significance. At the end, he seeks counsel of his father.
The protagonist of the story. He is the son of Jack O'Green, and must stand in his father's role when the latter is absent.
The madman of Sweeney's Wood. He lost his wits at the battle of Waterloo whereupon he gained "the Knowledge" that came with "the Fear". Sweeney is Phelim's Fool.
A half-trained witch who helps Phelim on his way to the Stoor Worm; the niece of Murdo Jones. Alexia is Phelim's Maiden and his protector, as supported by the translation of her name as "Help". Alexia is killed shortly before the encounter with the Stoor Worm and is thereafter revived by Phelim. He changes her name to Aisling, which means "dreamer."
A two-legged, black, conical, dancing cloth figure. He is Phelim's Horse. Provides little aid except advice.
The librarian of Storridge. In reaction to the havoc caused by the Stoor Worm's offspring, he revives Celtic sacrifice rituals, in which Phelim narrowly escapes being a participant.
Uncle of Alexia. He is a sailor and a fisherman, distrusts magic, and desires to have a wish granted by the Faeries of Hy Brasil. When he and Phelim visit the said island, Murdo learns, to his shock, that the faeries have no interest in helping him and seek only to obtain human brides.
Phelim's older sister, who paints lead figurines for a living. She harbors a grudge against Phelim for looking and acting much like their father. She therefore mocks him constantly.
Phelim's and Prundence's father, for whom the task of halting the Stoor Worm was designated. After Phelim had fulfilled his role, Jack returns to his son after an absence of years.
A figure resembling Jormungand of Norse mythology. The Stoor Worm is a continent-sized serpent whose offspring are all the monsters of localized English folklore, who sleeps for millennia on end. When she wakes, her eggs hatch, and her "Hatchlings" begin to wreak havoc on the world. Only by certain magic (much forgotten by Phelim's time) is effective in repelling them. If the Stoor Worm gains her freedom, she would destroy everything she encountered. She is a mouth breeder, as shown when Phelim enters her mouth to break the remaining eggs and slay her. He is therefore the last Jack O'Green, whose predecessors had merely restored the Stoor Worm to her sleep.