Falling Stones: The Spirit Autobiography of S. M. Jones

Written by Charles Wyatt
Review by Eileen Charbonneau

Claiming to be at once a “poor child of doubtful parentage” and as coming “in the clearest flood of recollection I have ever experienced,” this tale in the Southern Gothic tradition tells of the haunted life of Sylvester Jones. Especially after the boating accident and disappearance of his younger brother, he seems to wander lost, plagued by fiends within and without. With its agrarian American past setting vague at best, the story often leans closer to horror than historical fiction. How can an historical novel featuring a narrator born in 1836 who spends part of his life in Virginia never mention national hostilities?

Falling Stones seems both overwritten and under realized. Transition problems and child characters saying things like “Now that your hook is gone, let’s paddle to the far end and back” add to a dispiriting reading experience. Despite flashes of lyrical writing and some dark menace, Falling Stones ends up being yet another help-the-demon’s-got-my-little-brother-and-my-girlfriend’s-a-succubus story.