In the Arms of Stone Angels by Jordan Dane – Advance Review

Book Jacket:

Two years ago I did a terrible thing. I accused my best friend of being a killer after seeing him kneeling over a girl’s body. That moment and that outcast boy still haunt me.

Now my mom is forcing me back to Oklahoma and I can’t get White Bird out of my mind. But when I find out he’s not in juvie—that he’s in a mental hospital, locked in his tormented brain at the worst moment of his life—I can’t turn my back on him again.

No one wants me to see him. My mom doesn’t trust me. The town sheriff still thinks I was involved in the murder. And the other kids who knew the dead girl are after me.

I’m as trapped as White Bird. And when I touch him, I get sucked into his living hell, a vision quest of horrifying demons and illusions of that night. Everything about him scares me now, but I have to do something. This time I can’t be a coward. This time I have to be his friend.

Even if I get lost, as well…

You can read an excerpt here.


This book owned me. From the first page to the last, In the Arms of Stone Angels is absolutely riveting – this is an intense, emotional story of a teenage girl in search of redemption. Brenna is an outsider, forced to return to the scene of her crime – only what she sees as her crime, and what the town blames her for, are two entirely different things. Brenna finally confronts her past, facing down racism, mistrust, persecution, danger, and most of all her guilt, in her search for the truth.

I loved every page of this story. This book touches on so many different potent forces – the ways a trauma can mar someone’s life, how people can be cruel to outsiders, how fault lines form in relationships and how hard it is to mend them, the terrible power of accusations, the beauty of first love – and it never once pulls its punches. So often with YA I find myself feeling that potent emotional moments are just glossed over or passed by, such that they never seem to land. This story is the answer to my every complaint – this book is VISCERAL. It doesn’t just land, it hits, and does it ever deliver. It terms of potency, this book crushes every other paranormal YA mystery I have ever read. I loved it.

Another common theme in YA is the idea of a teenage girl feeling “different,” but Brenna’s differences are honestly and beautifully wrought. Brenna is authentically an outsider – she’s just the type of girl who doesn’t fit into the norm, who is fascinated by different things and marches to a different beat. She was comfortable being an outsider, happy with creating her own place to belong, until that fateful day when her differences cost her everything. Even after everything she’s gone through, Brenna is genuinely who she is, damaged but still strong. What makes her different isn’t mysterious heritage or mystical powers (though she does have an interesting touch of both), it’s about her, as a character, being herself. It’s lovely character work, and touching in a way I haven’t seen in a long, long time.

I can’t say enough about the complexity of the characters in this book – Brenna is wonderful. She pays such a terribly high price for trying to do the right thing; she is carrying so much, and yet she still tries to protect her mother from what she’s going through. White Bird is a boy who doesn’t belong anywhere, who has been rejected for what, not who, he is, and yet he’s still so gentle; it’s hard to believe what he’s become. Brenna’s Mom, at times so confused and overwhelmed, is a woman who has let her daughter down even though she loves her, a woman who tries so hard to understand. I feel like I know these people, not only because of Dane’s excellent character work, but because they ring so true – I recognize them in people I have known. Paranormal plotting aside, these characters belong to the real world and it’s impossible not to care for them.

I realize this review is getting perilously close to gushing, but this book deserves it. Jordan Dane comes to YA from writing adult mysteries – her debut novel, No One Heard Her Scream, was named Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2008 – and this book ably demonstrates her talent. The suspense is taut, the mystery compelling, and the paranormal elements are deft and intriguing. There is a fantastic, neo-Gothic sensibility to this story, a delicious sense of menace that Dane seamlessly incorporates with Native American culture, creating a unique and fascinating blend. I’m not going to say anything more about the plot for fear of spoilers, but just know this: it’s really good.

So what else can I say about In the Arms of Stone Angels except that I plan to be reading this author for a very long time. You have to read this book – it honestly is in a different league.

Byrt Grade: A+

As Levar Burton used to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…

Flippin’ Fabulous says:

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was different (read: different in a positive light). There were no vampires or werewolves and it wasn’t a fluffy romance between the beauty and the geek. There were deeper driving points that drove this story from start to finish. Vivid, emotional, and real. If Jordan Dane meant for me to get angry, frustrated, and slightly over whelmed she accomplished just that. I couldn’t put it down. I had to know the outcome, I felt like I had to prove the innocence of someone I wasn’t even so sure was innocent. Believe me when I tell you there is more to this book…

The Book Heist says:

Emotions run high In the Arms of  Stone Angels. In a blindingly amazing plot full of intrigue, Jordan Dane takes you through a breathtaking mystery with a paranormal twist like you’ve never seen before. I don’t know how to express its complexity and general awesomeness. It’s a story like I’ve never seen before. A page turner that will keep you up into the wee hours of the morning dying to race to the end. I give it two thumbs up!  Five stars!  I can’t wait to see what Dane brings to the YA genre next.

Reading Lark says:

Jordan Dane’s writing style is one that instantly drew me in and kept me on my toes. She paints a picture of a small, eerie town that haunted my dreams and invaded my thoughts even when I wasn’t reading. I kept trying to piece together the facts to figure out who the killer was, but I have to admit I didn’t see it coming at all.