Turn to Stone

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Nick is a runaway in desperate need of money and a safe place to sleep. That's when he meets Swan and the other human statues-a group of street artists who can turn themselves, almost, to stone. But soon Nick and Swan are spotted by Antonin, with his offer of a place at his artists' academy. Inside these ivy-covered walls is a world that's more like a cult than a theater school. And those students who leave, where do they really go? The deeper Nick digs, the more he's on the ...

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Overview

Nick is a runaway in desperate need of money and a safe place to sleep. That's when he meets Swan and the other human statues-a group of street artists who can turn themselves, almost, to stone. But soon Nick and Swan are spotted by Antonin, with his offer of a place at his artists' academy. Inside these ivy-covered walls is a world that's more like a cult than a theater school. And those students who leave, where do they really go? The deeper Nick digs, the more he's on the verge of uncovering the horrifying truth.
A chilling, atmospheric thriller that unfolds to reveal grim secrets and startling revelations up to the very end.

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Editorial Reviews

KLIATT
You see them in any big city, usually where crowds gather. They are the artists who cloak their humanity and have perfected the art of posingaperfectlyastill. Sometimes it is almost impossible to distinguish them from the stone effigies or store mannequins they imitate. Nick stumbles upon a group of them the day he leaves home for good, deciding that living on the street is better than staying in a house with an angry stepfather and a mother who won't come between them. Needing to make a living, Nick thinks he has what it takes to be a still performer and puts together the persona of Mozart, falling in with the other buskers, including the beautiful Swan, who make a living as human statues. In their company he learns about the trade and about "The Watcher" who lurks in the shadows. Nick realizes he isn't the only one who thinks he has extraordinary talent when he is "selected" to join an elite group at a one-of-a-kind training academy. However, something sinister resides in the decaying old mansion where he, Swan, and the other "selected" performers are trained, watched and warned to have no ties whatsoever. When it becomes clear to Nick that Antonin, the master artist, has lost his mind, and that the next step in training means leaving everything behind, he decides that he and Swan must escape. Gross has created an eerie and Gothic-inspired atmosphere, perfectly suited to his unique subject, and readers will never look at human statues the same way again. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2005, Penguin, Dial Books, 224p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Michele Winship
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Nick, a teenage runaway, is drawn to the world of living statues, street performers who pretend to be made of stone. Intrigued by Swan, a young woman who does a ballet routine, he dresses himself as Mozart and comes up with an act, playing his recorder when a coin is put into his box. He is soon aware that someone is observing him a bit too closely. The Watcher is Antonin, an unsettling man who asks Nick and Swan to study at his elite school for living statues. They are taken to an old estate, where they are provided with time to practice, but Nick soon notices the program's dark side. When a student is killed on the campus, he decides to leave, but must first convince Swan to come with him. Then, they must face Antonin before they can escape. While the premise is interesting, the characterization is thin. The relationship between Nick and Swan is underdeveloped, supporting characters hint at more depth but remain cardboard, and even the villains are not frightening until the climax. The book drags in the middle where Nick-and readers-are just waiting for something to happen and then when it does, the plot races at a breakneck speed to the conclusion. This uneven and ultimately unsuccessful gothic novel cannot hold a candle to Chris Wooding's The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray (Scholastic, 2004).-Tasha Saecker, Caestecker Public Library, Green Lake, WI Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A teenaged runaway falls in with a cult that's run by two sinister figures in this unsettling import. Unable to stomach his prospective stepfather, Nick jets off, and soon finds himself amid a coterie of street performers gathered at the remote estate of Dominic, a wealthy "art" dealer. They are there to study the art of being human toys and statues under the tutelage of Antonin, a weirdly intense master mime. Nick's suspicion that all's not quite on the up and up sharpens after the revelation that Dom had rescued Antonin from the asylum to which he'd been sent after committing a gruesome atrocity on a protege-and becomes a certainty when a fellow performer's sudden death is followed by a quick, quiet burial on the grounds. Gross lets the tale develop slowly, but eventually pulls the suspense moderately tight, throws in both an addictive, performance-enhancing drug and splashes of gore at the climax, then wraps it all up with a violent death for Antonin and a narrow escape for Nick and a lady friend. Good bedside reading, Bwahahaha. (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803730052
  • Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 4/21/2005
  • Pages: 224
  • Age range: 10 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.78 (w) x 8.56 (h) x 0.85 (d)

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