Bookanista Rec :: FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK

Today’s Bookanista recommendation is Finnikin of the Rock, an amazing high fantasy by one of my very favorite contemporary authors, Melina Marchetta.

From Goodreads ~ Finnikin of the Rock and his guardian, Sir Topher, have not been home to their beloved Lumatere for ten years. Not since the dark days when the royal family was murdered and the kingdom put under a terrible curse. But then Finnikin is summoned to meet Evanjalin, a young woman with an incredible claim: the heir to the throne of Lumatere, Prince Balthazar, is alive. Evanjalin is determined to return home and she is the only one who can lead them to the heir. As they journey together, Finnikin is affected by her arrogance . . . and her hope. He begins to believe he will see his childhood friend, Prince Balthazar, again. And that their cursed people will be able to enter Lumatere and be reunited with those trapped inside. He even believes he will find his imprisoned father. But Evanjalin is not what she seems. And the truth will test not only Finnikin’s faith in her . . . but in himself.

I’m a contemporary girl through and through, which is probably why fantasy is often a hard sell for me. When magic, invented languages, great battles, and epic journeys are involved, when there is a complicated map of an imagined world printed at the beginning of a novel, one of two things is sure to happen: I’ll end up so lost I don’t finish the book, or I’ll fall head-over-heels in love with every single thing about it.

When Finnikin came out a few years ago, I was under the (false) impression that it was a story aimed at the middle grade audience. I’m not sure why I thought that (it’s definitely not — I’ve since discovered that Finnikin is nineteen and this story’s themes are very mature). While I’ll give YA fantasy a shot (the romance!), MG fantasy isn’t usually my thing, which is why I never bought Finnikin. But it’s bothered me, not being a  part of The Lumatere Chronicles fan club, because I absolutely adore every contemporary novel Melina Marchetta has written. So, after listening to lots of bookish people rave about how fantastic Finnikin and its follow-ups are, I  decided to dive in.

I’m so glad I did. Like Jellicoe Road and Bitterblue and If I Stay, and StolenFinnikin of the Rock is one of those rare books that gave me physical reactions. Fifty minutes into a sixty minute elliptical workout (sweating my arse off!) Finnikin gave me chills — twice in a few pages. I had to continuously check myself while reading in public because, thanks to this story, I was constantly cringing or smiling or swooning. I even had to put the book down a few times because it was just so powerful. I ended up incredibly invested the characters, and I was terrified to read on and find out that something awful had happened to one of them.

Finnikin of the Rock is everything I look for in a story: a sweeping, sizzling romance, an intricately layered, breathtakingly twisted plot, unique and vibrant characters who leap off the page and demand that I  care deeply about them, and emotionality that is genuine and profound. Here are some of my favorite things about Finnikin of the Rock (as spoiler-free as possible)…

  1. Finnikin and Evanjalin’s banter, and the natural, astonishingly intense progression of their bond. 
  2. Finnikin’s relationship with both Sir Topher and Trevanion. So different, yet so heartfelt.
  3. Finnikin’s intelligence and sensitivity and selflessness, and his commitment t0 his peoples’ greater good. Same goes for Evanjalin.
  4. Trevanion’s backstory with Lady Beatriss. Romantic and heartbreaking.
  5. The complex Land of Skulendore — its diverse people and languages and landforms.
  6. Froi’s slow transformation. I was amazed by the way he grew on me.
  7. The magic. Curses and dreams and, sometimes, the unexplainable. It was all so clever, so creative, and so well thought-out.
  8. The writing. Of course. Melina Marchetta’s style is so evocative and compelling and seemingly effortless — enviable.

So, I have a new favorite fantasy to add to my list. Finnikin of the Rock is a big ol’ recommend. Oh, and yesterday I finished Froi of the Exiles, and it most definitely lives up to Finnikin’s awesomeness.

Have you read any of the Lumatere novels? Do you have a favorite fantasy to recommend? 

And don’t forget to check out what my fellow Bookanistas are up to:

Lenore Appelhans  is blown away by REBOOT by Amy Tintera

 Carrie Harris adores BEYOND DINOCALYPSE by Chuck Wendig
— with giveaway!

 Tracy Banghart  & Debra Driza join THE GIRL GUIDE
by Christine Fonseca book blitz!

 Corrine Jackson is stunned by BREAKING BEAUTIFUL by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

 Nikki Katz  wonders at THE GRAVE WINNER by Lindsey Loucks

 Gretchen McNeil talks TRUTH OR DARE by Jacqueline Green

 Elana Johson admires INSOMNIA by Jenn Johannson

 Tracey Neithercott celebrates THE YEAR OF SECRET ASSIGNMENTS
by Jacqueline Moriarty

 Rebecca Behrens is wowed by THE FIFTH WAVE by Rick Yancey


24 thoughts on “Bookanista Rec :: FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK

  1. Rebecca B says:

    “I’m a contemporary girl through and through, which is probably why fantasy is often a hard sell for me.” Same here (but add historical fiction to my mix). You might’ve convinced me to add this to my list with your review, though–I loved JELLICOE ROAD.

    • katyupperman says:

      FINNIKIN has the same awesome plotting and crazy twists as JELLICOE, Rebecca, which was one of the things I loved most about it. And despite its fantasy setting, FINNIKIN’s themes are so real and relevant. I loved it!

  2. Jaime Morrow says:

    I like fantasy, but like you, I’m often put off by the multitude of weird, hard to remember names, whether characters, people groups, places, you name it. I’ve been fortunate to read some really great YA fantasy in the last year or so, so that definitely gives me the push I need. I’m thoroughly enjoying FINNIKIN. It took me a little bit to get into it (as is often the case with fantasy), but now it’s gotten really good! Can’t wait to read more.

    Great review, Katy! And, in a weird way, the recommendation. I started reading this one because you were reading it and loving it. 🙂

    • katyupperman says:

      It’s so nice to have trusted book friends, Jaime. There are certain people’s opinions who I always trust (yours, Erin Bowman’s, Jessica Love’s, Alison Miller’s, Tracey Neithercott’s, and Sara McClung’s, to name a few). Anytime you all rave about a book, I know I must check it out too. Can’t wait to hear what you think of the end of FINNIKIN!

  3. Michelle Roberts (@michroberts90) says:

    I just recently put this series on my TBR list too. Don’t know why I refused to even read the blurb. I think the title, for some reason, kept me thinking it was about Fraggle Rock. *face palm* And now with your rec I’m super excited to get to it!

    • katyupperman says:

      Michelle, I TOTALLY thought of Fraggle Rock too! I guess that’s a sign of our generation. 🙂 It’s an incredible book, though, and I hope you get a chance to read it!

  4. Krispy says:

    I’m the opposite of you because I’m a fantasy girl through and through, but for whatever reason, it took me a while to pick this one up too. This was my first Melina Marchetta novel (I know), and I was so, so blown away by how good it was. I loved this novel for the things you mentioned -how the characters were so admirable but also so flawed too- but I also loved it for its complex themes – particularly that it’s a book that tackles the concept of national and cultural identity and it does it SO well. I cannot WAIT to read FROI.

    The most recent YA high fantasy that I’ve read and loved is SERAPHINA. It’s a lot slower though as plots go, but the world-building is breathtaking. My all-time favorite fantasy (and book) though is THE LAST UNICORN, which I think is immensely accessible even for the casual fantasy reader. It is gorgeous, moving, and wise – a classic for a reason. 🙂

    • katyupperman says:

      Aaah! The Last Unicorn was one of my favorite movies when I was a kid, but I’ve never read the book. Perhaps it’s time to remedy that!

      I loved the themes in FINNIKIN too, especially that they’re so mature (and they become even more mature as the series progresses). Melina Marchetta tackles such big, important issues in a way that’s incredibly entertaining and relatable. The same can be said for her contemporary novels, which is why I love her work so much!

      • Krispy says:

        OH! Then I think you will LOVE The Last Unicorn book! It was also one of my childhood favorite movies, and when I found out at a much older age that it was a book first, I was ecstatic. The movie is still good, but the book is incredible – partly because the language is just so lyrically beautiful.

        So great to hear that about the Lumatere books as they go! Did you end up liking FROI more than FINNIKIN? I’ve heard that from a few people.

        • katyupperman says:

          I didn’t like FROI more than FINNIKIN, though I certainly loved it. I’m such a sucker for romance, and I enjoyed Finnikin’s relationship with Evanjalin more than Froi’s relationship with Quintana. That all may change, though, as I get further into QUINTANA OF CHARYN. 🙂

          I am definitely going to hunt down THE LAST UNICORN the next time I go to the library!

  5. Erin Funk says:

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked up this book and looked it over in the store. After hearing you rave about it, I’m definitely going to have to read it now. This sounds like a story my husband would enjoy too, seeing as he loves fantasy and occasionally reads YA. Thanks for recommending it!

    • katyupperman says:

      Erin, I was just telling my husband how incredible this series is. I told him it’s a mix of GAME OF THRONES and PILLARS OF THE EARTH with a whole lot of awesome thrown it. I hope he reads it because I really think he’d like it. If you manage to get your husband on-board, you’ll have to let me know what he thinks. That’ll make it easier to sell the books to my hubby. 🙂

  6. Stephanie Allen says:

    I actually didn’t like Froi at all until the next book. Getting into his head and understanding how difficult things are for him and how much he has to do battle with himself was what sold me on him. I have Quintana sitting on my shelf right now so I’ll be reading that soon…

    Don’t get me started on YA fantasy! I recommend Throne of Glass, Shadow and Bone, and anything by Tamora Pierce to everyone. Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith is an oldie but goodie, and Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken was highly underrated. And the Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima is amazing – it starts really slow, but you’ll be hooked by the time ish starts hitting the fan (AND IT WILL).

    I found my copy of Graceling so I’m sure it’ll be joining that list soon 🙂

    • katyupperman says:

      I have THRONE OF GLASS and SHADOW AND BONE now, thanks to Erin Bowman and her fabulous giveaway! Can’t wait to read them both! And I get what you’re saying about Froi. He won me over when he hunted Finnikin down in that crazy chapter where (SPOILER ALERT) it seemed like Evanjalin might be going down. FROI OF THE EXILES totally endeared him to me though. I love his battles with loyalty and with his past. Heartbreaking stuff!

      Please let me know what you think of GRACELING!

  7. Elodie says:

    I have to buy this book now! 😀 I picked up JELLICOE thanks to your rec and it´s been a favorite of mine ever since…<3

  8. Janita @ Book, Interrupted says:

    I hadn’t heard of this book until recently, when I discovered a whole bunch of amazing review for it! I’m definitely ordering a copy soon because it sounds right up my alley. Great review 🙂

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