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<i>The Stone Song</i> by Tom Bale
Jack's awakening
Lily's great escape
Oliver discusses his hostile school life
  • The Stone Song by Tom Bale
  • Jack's awakening
  • Lily's great escape
  • Oliver discusses his hostile school life

About the author


Tom Bale had a variety of jobs before realising his lifelong ambition to be a full-time writer. He is the author of nine thrillers, including the best sellers See How They Run and All Fall Down, also available on Audible. The Stone Song is his first Sci-Fi novel. A keen cyclist and swimmer, he lives by the sea in Brighton.

Editor reviews

“This story is pacey, dark and captivating. I loved the world the author’s built, and felt totally swept up in the peril.” (Harriet, Audible Editor) 

“Tom Bale’s ability to transport you right into the centre of the action is remarkable. With rich detail, dimensional characters and superb narration by Raza Jaffrey, I truly felt like I was meandering the streets of Stenhurst with the rest of the gang.” (Jess, Audible Editor)  

About the performer


Raza Jaffrey’s film work includes The Rhythm Section, Cliffs of Freedom, The Rendezvous, Sex and the City 2, Eastern Promises, Harry Brown, The Crew and Infinite Justice.

On Television he is known for The Enemy Within (NBC), Lost in Space (Netflix), Code Black (CBS), Homeland (Showtime), Elementary (CBS), Smash (NBC), Mistresses and Spooks / MI5 (BBC).

He has also worked extensively on stage where he lead Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Bombay Dreams (Apollo), and played roles including Sky in Mamma Mia! (Prince Edward) and Billy Flynn in Chicago (Garrick).

Summary

A dystopian sci-fi thriller set in a small Sussex village.

On a sweltering summer’s night, teenage siblings Jack and Lily witness a helicopter crash on the main road between Brighton and London. The next morning they wake to find their village has been sealed off from the entire world. A terrorist cell is holed up in Stenhurst - or at least that’s the official story, put out by sinister government agent Wynter and his vicious sidekick, Major Kellett. 

But later that day, Lily and Jack stumble on the truth: the authorities are hunting for a mysterious creature, labelled CatX, who escaped during the crash. Together with their friends, Erin and Oliver, Lily and Jack take it upon themselves to defy the lockdown and protect the creature, no matter what the risks. 

The stakes are raised still further when a team of American agents arrive with their own unique technologies. Nobody who sees the CatX must be allowed to survive, and yet it soon becomes clear that there is a much bigger secret here...one that threatens the entire world. 

With four teenagers pitted against deadly opposition, this is a story of supernatural menace that will appeal to fans of Stephen King and Stranger Things

Featuring an exclusive interview with narrator Raza Jaffrey at the end of the audiobook, in which he talks about the narration experience, his career as an actor and the things (and people) he loves to listen to.

©2019 Tom Bale (P)2019 Audible, Ltd

Critic reviews

“I loved this book. A thoroughly original premise executed with verve and utter emotional truth. An unforgettable read.” (Elly Griffiths)

Behind the scenes

Watch our exclusive interview with Raza Jaffrey as he discusses his career as an actor and the narration experience.
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What listeners say about The Stone Song

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good read.Unfair to call it a Stranger Things copy

Yes, there are some similarities, of course. But there's lots of things that make it different too.

E.T came thirty five years before Stranger Things, there's some similarities between them, but I wouldn't call Stranger Things an E.T knock-off.
My only criticism is the narration. The reader is a little too softly spoken, and some times a little too fast. Especially in the first couple of chapters. But other than that, this was a fun read.
I also disliked the American (secret service) addition. It seems that these days, everything we produce in the UK has to have some American element to it, like they're the only other nation that exists. I find it annoying. It's probably to appeal to the American market, but it's so obvious, like Americans won't be interested in something unless it has "American" in it somewhere, and I just find myself rolling my eyes.

13 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jo
  • 18-11-19

Enjoyable

This was like a modern take on an Enid Blyton book, mixed up with ‘Stranger Things’ and at one point I was definitely expecting someone to say ‘those pesky kids’ just like in Scooby Do! It was fun and easy to listen to and I’ll definitely get the get the sequel! Would make a great film or tv series.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Must read!!!

Gripping, a story line that had me gasping. Transported to the edge of where reality meets fantasy. Excellent performance.

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Excellent narration, great story

Tom Bale is famous for his intense thrillers. I have most of them on my TBR, but you know what it is like… When I first heard of The Stone Song, I was curious. I love it when authors venture into different genres and prove us their talent has many faces. When Tom asked me if I wanted to listen to his newest book, I didn’t hesitate. Call it instinct? I don’t know what it was, but I was on the lookout for my next audiobook, hoping for something different and captivating. Well, I found it.  

Two siblings in the dead of night, a helicopter crash, different voices. It didn’t take long for me to be hungry with answers I tend to stay away from teenagers, they’re the reason why I gave up on the idea of teaching, but Lily and Jack didn’t get on my nerves. No. They sounded like your normal, not-so-stupid youngsters who happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Or were they?

The narration makes it obvious that there is more than meet the eye, in a strong and clever way. The parallel perspectives filled me with dread, fear, questions. But the first chapters didn’t prepare me for what was to come.

Stenhurst is your usual quiet village. But events are about to make it famous to the world.


As the cast of protagonists grew, so did my interest. Tom Bale has done a great job in capturing the bad guys, the good but clumsy ones, the worried parents, the crowd effect, and the general anxiety people feel rising when words are muttered.

To hide the secret recapture of a specimen called CatX, the authorities wave the terrorism threat. Something in me reacted so violently I stopped reading for a second. Isn’t this so plausible it becomes scary?

When the town is sealed under the pretense to find those terrorists, Lily, Jack, and their friends Erin and Oliver are faced with a choice – help the poor creature being hunted or turn their head and lock the door. This is when I knew I would love those kids. This is no easy decision, but Lily stands up and decides to show the CatX that all humans are not evil. Getting to know the CatX allows Tom Bale to show us what we are capable of. How do we react to what is different from us? Don’t lie. We can’t lie. When afraid, we run. The first thing that comes to mind is us VS them. The author really does a great job at fighting this idea with heart but also realism. I am not one for paranormal stuff. But The Stone Song never actually felt so supernatural that I had to roll my eyes. In fact, I didn’t do it once. Because although the CatX is something different and her story is beyond what I knew, for me, this book is about mankind. Power. The face of our society. Countries battling to get the big fish. Secrets. At what cost? When did we become so afraid we lost our empathy and allowed guns to replace thoughts?

I disagree if you think The Stone Song is a simple YA thriller. This novel is a strong and engaging novel with characters to root for, baddies that earn their name, a sharp tension ready to keep the reader on their toes, and a deadly race for life. 

The narrator nailed every character and I was fascinated by how he made the story alive.

4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Entertaining cat and mouse adventure

I savoured the time I had listening to the plight of an alien creature which escaped captivity and sought safety in a small Sussex village.

I am very much a fan of rooting for the underdog (I think we Scots need to be born with this trait) and from the first chapters I found myself rooting for the CatX as, following the crash of a military helicopter which had been transporting CatX, it fled from the military and tried to escape from the only life it had known. CatX sought refuge in secure locations but became trapped in the chimney of a large house in the village of Stenhurst. Help would soon appear in the form of 4 teenage kids and a deadly game of hide and seek begins.

The children soon realise that CatX can communicate with them and an alliance is formed. CatX needs the help of the children to continue to hide from the military forces who are souring Stenhurst to find it. The village is shut down and a total media blackout has been imposed. But tracking an alien life form which is small enough to hide in a rucksack and climb down a chimney is no easy task and the longer the government take to locate their lost asset the more attention they bring to their activities in Stenhurst. Naturally desperation begins to set in and the arrival of American government agencies the pressure to get a prompt resolution to the situation leads to an overspill of aggression from the soldiers on the ground.

The Stone Song is a David vs Goliath tale which kept me thoroughly entertained. Tom Bale sets a vivid scene as he depicts the military oppression of a seemingly sleepy English village. There was a slow reveal throughout the story of what CatX may be, some clever clues passed me by as the story progressed and it was only with the benefit of hindsight I realised I should have been a bit quicker to spot some of the surprises which interweave through the book.

As with every audiobook review I need to comment on the narrator. In this case we are treated to the skills of Raza Jeffrey and he delivers a great performance. There is quite a large cast for The Stone Song and a range of accents are required – all handled perfectly. Raza is very “listenable” which is a trait you would expect to be found in all audiobook narrators but (sadly) this is not always the case.

The Stone Song is only available in Audiobook format and it clocks in at around 11 hours (slightly vague on the run time as the download includes an interview with Raza Jeffrey as a bonus for the listener). I always assess the success of a story on whether I would pass it to my family to read. My teenage son is looking for more fantasy type stories to enjoy and I have recommended he tries The Stone Song. The balance of adventure, alien life, military intervention and the conspiracry theories thrown out to deflect the world media tick all his boxes. First finished book of 2020. A good start!

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Just get on with it.

I am not sure where to start. The idea of a "Stranger Things" style story sounded good......but other than 4 youths being the main characters, it has NOTHING in common with Stranger things. The whole premise of the story should be great, but for most of it nothing really happens, the the Americans turn up.(no explanation is given to HOW they are allowed to turn up and take over) a little bit happens, than a bit more happens in the last 30 minutes.

The reader is seems to be bored him self for most of it, he uses the same American voice for all the American characters. And his voice for Cat X is just annoying.

I suspect being 40, i am not who this book is targeting.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Gave up. Narration very poor.

Just gave up on this book. Narration very poor. In places it's an inaudible whisper and in places so fast I had to slow it down with the speed control.
Story is slow. Not sure if this is for children or adults. Struggled to reach chapter 25 to give it a chance. Why are the chapters so short?
Forced to give it one star.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A compelling story

This is the first work by Tom Bale that I’ve experienced so I was drawn to it by the synopsis as I love anything Sci-Fi. I have to say, I’m very impressed. The eclectic mix of likeable characters and dare I say evil characters was extraordinary well balanced and portrayed. There’s even a couple of characters I didn’t like to begin with, but end up being likeable in the end, conversely, some characters ended up being more sinister than originally portrayed. I loved the slightly different tilt to the “alien” genre and the young adults personalities were extremely well done. The overall depth of each main characters were brilliant. Raza Jaffrey was an amazing narrator and I hope to experience his voice talent again in the future. Will definitely seek out more work by Tom and/or Raza. B x

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Bring on the sequel!

Yes, it’s derivative of nearly every other alien-meets-kids story ever. Yes, it’s a bit clunky with certain dialogue and references that feel like they were dreamt up by a white, middle aged, straight man (which I’m assuming they were). And yes, the ending is telegraphed from the outset with all the finesse of a hammer thrower. But so what? I REALLY enjoyed it! Warm, engaging, intriguing, fun. With a genuinely interesting bit of world building - which, IMO, should have been front loaded and explored much earlier on. Though that’s clearly the plan for book two...

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Young teen retelling of ET

Bought this without doing sufficient research, didn't realise that the target age group was 11-14, but it's a well told story so listened to it happily anyway. There isn't much originality here, little sweet alien escapes from nasty humans and finds friends in a group of teenagers, but the story skips along and the narrator does a good job. The alien itself (small like a gargoyle) reminded me of those in the rather excellent Eiffelhiem novel. By the way, there are a couple of swear words that are beeped out, I've never heard this in an audio book before, literally beeped out so you cannot hear the word.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Squeak
  • 08-11-19

Great Story!

I really enjoyed this book! This was the first Tom Bale book I read and when I finished I went and looked to see if there was a second book in this series. Although the book was a complete story (No Cliffhangers), the author did leave an opening for another book. When (and if) another in this series comes out, I will definitely get it!

The narrator, Raza Jaffrey, did a great job with different voices for the cast of characters.

Thanks for writing a great story!

1 person found this helpful