Hill, Stuart 1958–
Hill, Stuart 1958–
Born 1958, in Leicester, England. Education: University graduate.
Home and office—Leicester, England.
Bookseller and children's writer. Worked previously as a car trimmer, an archaeologist, and a teacher.
Ottakars Prize for best new children's novel, for The Cry of the Icemark.
The Cry of the Icemark, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2005.
Blade of Fire, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2007.
The Cry of the Icemark was optioned by film. Hill's novels have also been adapted as audiobooks.
Bookseller and children's writer Stuart Hill learned to read later than most of his peers. "I couldn't read or write until I was seven and I can still remember that almost magical feeling when those strange angular symbols actually began to have a meaning," he told an interviewer at the DoubleCluck Web site. "After that I couldn't stop playing with words and their sounds and meaning." Though his grades were only average, Hill "was fortunate to have a teacher who inspired in him a lifelong love of reading," wrote a contributor to the Scholastic Web site. While further honing his interest in reading, Hill worked as a car trimmer, then later as a teacher and an archaeologist.
Hill's first published novel, The Cry of the Icemark, was written during the coffee breaks he had in his job working in a bookstore. The novel spins a fantasy about a young queen name Thirrin, who must unite with ancient enemies to defeat the foe who comes marching
onto her land. With the aid of her friend, advisor, and romantic interest Oskan the Warlock, Thirrin travels to gain the aid of the vampire king and queen, the werewolves who live on her borders, and the giant snow leopards that claim the woodlands as their own. Although her story is firmly set in the realms of fantasy, Thirrin is based on someone from Hill's life: his sister, Kathleen, who died of leukemia when he was a teen.
Jennifer Mattson, writing in Booklist, called The Cry of the Icemark an "extravagant first novel" and added that "Hill's affection for his characters … will prove infectious." Noting that the novel incorporates several elements more traditionally associated with horror or urban fantasy, Michele Winship noted in Kliatt that Hill "skillfully reinvents them to fit into his world." A Publishers Weekly contributor observed that the author "braids these elements smoothly, and his winning heroine will lead readers through." Jane P. Fenn, reviewing The Cry of the Icemark for School Library Journal, concluded that "fantasy fans and those with some familiarity with ancient history will enjoy this inventive tale."
Told from the point of view of her children, Thirrin's saga continues in Blade of Fire. Thirrin's youngest son, Charlemagne or "Sharly," suffered from polio and is lame. Unable to defend his nation when the enemy approaches the border again, Thirrin sends her son with the refugees being transported to safer southern lands so he can serve as the regent for their community. In the lands of these desert people, Sharly discovers that he may be the center of a prophecy regarding the preservation of his homeland. "Readers will be drawn to the likeable Sharly, cheering him on as he finds his place in the world," wrote Winship in Kliatt. Mattson described the book as "epic in scope" and noted that "the high-fantasy action moves right along." Tina Everitt, reviewing Blade of Fire for Bookseller, concluded: "I cannot wait for the next installment."
When asked by an interviewer at the DoubleCluck Web site about his ideal time and place for writing, Hill replied: "My ideal time and place would be an oak-paneled study with hours of uninterrupted leisure in which to enjoy the process of writing. The reality is a little different, i.e., a scruffy bedroom with a tired old laptop on which I desperately bang out a few paragraphs whenever I get the chance in a frantic day. Oh yes, and Mr. B. (my cat) likes to stuff his tail up my nose just when I'm coming to a difficult bit."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, February 15, 2005, Jennifer Mattson, review of The Cry of the Icemark, p. 1072; March 15, 2007, Jennifer Mattson, review of Blade of Fire, p. 47.
Bookseller, October 20, 2006, Tina Everitt, review of Blade of Fire, p. 15.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, April, 2005, Timnah Card, review of The Cry of the Icemark, p. 339.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2005, review of The Cry of the Icemark, p. 418.
Kliatt, May, 2005, Michele Winship, review of The Cry of the Icemark, p. 13; January, 2007, Michele Winship, review of Blade of Fire, p. 12.
Publishers Weekly, review of The Cry of the Icemark, 61.
School Library Journal, May, 2005, Sue Giffard, review of The Cry of the Icemark, p. 128; November, 2006, Jane P. Fenn, review of The Cry of the Icemark, p. 63; June, 2007, Marie C. Hansen, review of Blade of Fire, p. 146.
Voice of Youth Advocates, June, 2005, Sarah Flowers, review of The Cry of the Icemark, p. 148; April, 2007, Sarah Flowers, review of Blade of Fire, p. 65.
BookBrowse Web site,http://www.bookbrowse.com/ (December 21, 2007), "Stuart Hill."
DoubleCluck Web site,http://www.doublecluck.com/ (December 21, 2007), interview with Hill.
Scholastic Web site,http://www.scholastic.com/ (December 21, 2007), "Stuart Hill."