Book Review: In The Arms of Stone Angels by Jordan Dane

In The Arms of Stone Angels
Published By: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: March 2011
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Source: Galley received from publisher via NetGalley

Jordan Dane has reminded me why I love mysteries and should read them more often. She has created a dark and twisted world in which a young Native American boy, White Bird, is accused of murdering the teen queen of the small town of Shawano, Oklahoma. To make matters worse, his best friend, Brenna Nash, is the one that calls the police after she finds White Bird standing above the dead girl holding a knife and covered in blood. Surely he was the one that killed her, right? Brenna soon learns that appearances can be deceiving.

The book begins when Brenna and her mother leave their home in North Carolina to return to Oklahoma two years after the murder. Brenna has no desire to return to the town that holds so many awful memories, but she isn't given a choice. The Nash's return to Shawano creates quite a stir amongst the town's citizens and the local police force. Brenna learns that White Bird never went to the trial for the murder of Heather, but rather he has been in a mental hospital lost within himself the entire time. Brenna must find some way to help him and clear his name if he is innocent.

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. I love mysteries that make me work for the answers. Dane has a mesmerizing cast of characters. However, the portrait she paints of racism and prejudice was often hard to read at times. I applaud her for not sugarcoating this harsh topic. I found myself frustrated with many of the characters for their views and actions.

Readers will be drawn in by Brenna's voice and her situation. It is impossible not to be rooting for her. My heart broke for her over and over again. She is so strong in spite of all the junk life has thrown her way. I like her perseverance and courage. I will admit that I did shed a tear or two during a scene in which Brenna attends a party and is attacked by the mean spirited party goers. I was shocked at the cruelty that people have in their hearts and actions. Readers should be prepared to be angry for a portion of the book.

I also loved the Native American culture that Jordan Dane presents on the Euchee tribe. I had never heard of this tribe, but it is obvious that Dane did her research on this one. I am inspired to learn more about this group of people and their traditions. I have always loved learning about Native American cultures and history.

However, in spite of my giving this book a 4 rating and loving it, there were some things I was frustrated with in my reading. I liked that the author varied the perspective as the story unfolded. Some parts are told in first person narration from Brenna's point of view while other parts are told in third person narration featuring the other characters who know things Brenna doesn't. I was frustrated because I didn't feel like the author gave enough transition between the two styles. There were often no page breaks and these would happen within one larger chapter. I often got confused about who was saying what; my only clue being the pronoun shift. I would have to stop, reread, and then get back on track. I think this would have been smoother if the author had inserted page breaks or created new chapters. Again, I was reading a galley and not the finished product. Perhaps this will be fixed by the time the book is released.

My other big criticism is Brenna's special ability. I won't spoil what exactly it is, but I don't understand why it was even included in this book. Sure it's a neat trick, but it doesn't move the story forward very much. It's not integral to solving the mystery and doesn't seem to serve any real purpose other than providing one more example of how Brenna is different from other teenagers in the town. I think the book could have been stronger if this gift had been more crucial to the plot.

One Last Gripe: I get so frustrated by racism in our world today. I was truly livid with the actions of some characters in this book. It was important to the story, but still frustrated me.

My Favorite Thing about This Book: The intense, fast paced plot

First Sentence: I sleep with the dead.

Favorite Characters: Brenna, Joe Sunne

Least Favorite Character: Jade

Two years ago, Brenna did the unthinkable. She witnessed the aftermath of a murder and accused her only true friend—the first boy she ever loved—of being a killer.

Now sixteen, Brenna returns to Oklahoma only to discover that Isaac "White Bird" Henry isn't in juvie. The half-breed outcast is in a mental hospital, frozen in time, locked in his mind at the worst moment of his life. And when Brenna touches him, she's pulled into his hellish vision quest, seeing terrifying demons and illusions she doesn't understand.

Feeling isolated and alone, she's up against the whole town, targeted by bullying former classmates, a bigoted small town sheriff, and a tribe who refuses to help one of their own. But when Brenna realizes she's as trapped by the past as White Bird is, this time she won't turn her back on him. She's the only one who can free them both.

Even if she has to expose her secret—a "gift" she's kept hidden her whole life.


  1. Good review. I now am going to have to check it out and read it. Thanks.

  2. @She - Thanks! I hope you enjoy it.

  3. Love the way you do your reviews! Thanks for this one :)

  4. Great review! I've got this via NetGalley, can't wait to read it :)

  5. @Lazy Girl & Mia - Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I really appreciate it. :)


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