The Stone of Acumen

Title: The Stone of Acumen
Series: Wendael Series #1
Published by: M. J. Natali
Release Date: July 30, 2015
Pages: 278
ISBN13: 978-1505542950

Raina and her friend’s journey to the Council in hopes of becoming one of the elite warriors known as Raven. However, Raina carries with her a secret made to her dying mother many years ago. She must fulfill a promise to become a Raven and protect the Stone of Acumen.

During training, Raina learns she’s the only person in the Realm of Wendael who can use the Stone of Acumen to its fullest potential. Raina’s friends are dying, while her own life is threatened in order to coerce her into joining Amerdan’s side of the war.
Raina uses her Gift of Insight with her fellow Ravens against Amerdan who wants to use the Stone of Acumen against those who follow the Light side of Magic.

This suspenseful and action packed story washed with Elemental Magic and romance will have you cheering for Raina and her fellow Raven to vanquish Amerdan and his followers.


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Raina's threatened

After waving goodbye to my disappointed friends, I wait until they are out of sight before heading towards the back hallway, which leads to the area set for the Seers training and living area. The hallway is barely it and only used by Seers, so the foot traffic is minimal. There are some torches lit here and there, with dark alcoves in which provide ample opportunity for me to hide, just in case someone comes down the halls.

Minutes later I'm walking down the hall being as stealthy as I can. I don't need to be stealthy, but I want to practice all I can. If I were anywhere else, I would be scared of the many dark recesses. In my tired and sore state, I'm not completely alert, but my peripheral vision notices movement off to my left. Before I can get a better look, someone grabs me forcefully, and pulls me into the dark recess they came from.

A rough hand covers my nose and mouth tightly, blocking my air intake. My arms are held painfully against my sides, and my back is held tight against someone’s chest. I feel a dark insubstantial slick, slither against my soul. I shiver involuntarily as it touches my core. It's hard to describe other than it being a dark feeling, similar to the difference between feeling the warmth of the sun, to the cold of winter snow. It's the best I can explain. Like depression, utter darkness void of the loving light of the Goddess, seeping into my soul. I attempt to squirm, kick, anything to get free, but the more I struggle, my capture's grip tightens and the harder it becomes to breath what little oxygen I can take in. My heart beats faster and I can feel my lungs burning with need.

A voice whispers in my left ear. "Don't struggle!" I think it is a man. It feels like a man, sounds like a man. I struggle harder, only to be shoved face first against the wall, as his grip on me tightens painfully further. I'm in more pain and in fear of passing out. I don't think I can stay conscious much longer, as I am up tight against the wall, strong arms holding me tight while cutting off all but a tiny bit of my oxygen supply.

"I know what thing your friend Charles is, and if you don't do as I say, I will claim that he is in league with the dark, and I will kill someone you love without hesitation. Do you understand me?" I couldn't speak so I grunt and shake my head in affirmation.

"I will be watching closely, and you won't know who I am, or where I am. Understand that I am the least of your worries. I want the Stone of Acumen and you will get it for me when I deem it's time. Don't mention this or our encounter with anyone, or someone’s life is forfeit. Or, even better, I might just lay more harm upon you. I will come to you again soon. You will not know who I am, so don't bother trying to find out."

His hands tighten on my nose and mouth completely, stopping any oxygen intake, and I lose the ability to keep conscious. Right before darkness overcomes me, I hear him say, "Sweet Dreams. I will be in touch".

I don't know how long I lay crumpled on the floor of the dark alcove, but when I come to, my head has a bump, and dizziness swims, preventing me from seeing clearly. I slowly pick myself up off the floor, and wait for the dizziness to pass. I gingerly press the bump on my head and am grateful it's not bleeding. I mentally add this and the newly founded headache to my list of pains for the day. Ugh, this is no longer fun. This is supposed to be fun. What's with all the deceit anyway? It's too late now to go sneaking around, so I decide not to chance it any further. 

Red City Review 5 stars!

The Stone Of Acumen: Raina’s Vow by M J Natali


Raina was ten years old at the time that her mother was unexpectedly attacked by two black-cloaked figures. Her mother’s final words were filled with urgency for Raina to promise never to tell anyone about her secret. Ten years later, a war ensues when the notorious Amerdan Cimmerian insists of the Council of Elders that people should have the freedom to choose dark magic. Warriors are desperately needed, and fortunately Raina is old enough to be trained by the Council of Elders to become both a Keeper and a Raven, like her mother. Raina’s role as Keeper means that she has to make sure the Stone of Acumen, her mother’s secret, remains hidden from Amerdan. While Amerdan has plenty of tricks up his sleeve, Raina is unaware that she is the prime target of his devious plans.

The Stone of Acumen – Raina’s Vow is the first book in The Wendael Ravens series. Rising author M J Natali has fashioned her riveting debut fantasy novel with a balanced blend of skill, earthly elements, and magic set within otherworldly environs. Undoubtedly, her novel definitely follows a “good versus evil” theme — typical of fantasy literature. Yet Natali’s inimitable plot does not always zero in on Raina, her main character. Among her supporting cast, Natali introduces two critical characters, Lanai and Charles, who together with Raina create a tightly knit threesome. Natali’s writing style uses first person narration for Raina, but also for Lanai and Charles. This type of literary design allows Natali to freely and meticulously develop each character. It also assists in narrative movement since Natali deftly alternates character scenes that are filled with plenty of action as well as romance. Although there isn’t much of a cliffhanger at the end of the novel, there is a definite sense that there is much more to come from this courageous trio.