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 Stolen, Finnikin 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)…
- Finnikin and Evanjalin’s banter, and the natural, astonishingly intense progression of their bond.
- Finnikin’s relationship with both Sir Topher and Trevanion. So different, yet so heartfelt.
- Finnikin’s intelligence and sensitivity and selflessness, and his commitment t0 his peoples’ greater good. Same goes for Evanjalin.
- Trevanion’s backstory with Lady Beatriss. Romantic and heartbreaking.
- The complex Land of Skulendore — its diverse people and languages and landforms.
- Froi’s slow transformation. I was amazed by the way he grew on me.
- The magic. Curses and dreams and, sometimes, the unexplainable. It was all so clever, so creative, and so well thought-out.
- 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?
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