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


One Word Wednesday

{I mentioned last week that we had to say goodbye to our loyal dog Lucy, which was a terrible experience. But, we still have Daisy, and we’re feeling very fortunate to have her wagging her tail around the house these days. She’s an old, tired lady, but she’s still up for walks and treats and snuggles. Lucky us.}

{Speaking of Lucy, we’re all dealing in our own way. My husband left her a sweet message on our family chalkboard, and my girlie drew the most adorable picture of her at school. I got a little teary when I took it out of her backpack.}

{It’s Teacher Appreciation Week! My daughter has a wonderful teacher and we wanted to do something nice to acknowledge all her hard work. I thought about sending an apple to school for her, but then I recalled my own teaching days and decided that Apple Strudel would be a much tastier after-work treat.} 

{This book is amazing. It’s taking me forever to get through  because last week sucked and I’m in the middle of a revision (that’s finally starting to take shape!), but yeah… I love Finnikin and Evanjalin. I love this world. I love Melina Marchetta’s writing. Recommend!}

{Nordy Bars are one of my favorite treats. My mom used to make them at Christmastime, but they’re super tasty any time of the year. In fact, I made them for a barbecue last week and they got all kinds of compliments. Butterscotch, chocolate chips, marshmallows, pecans… What’s not to love?}

{My little miss has been writing books these days, just like her mama. Usually she’s much more focused than me, but lately we’ve both been hard at work. My goal is to finish my revision this week. Then it’s off for a beta read. Yay!}

{I know I’m *slightly* biased, but I think she’s pretty darn cute.}

Tell me: What have you been up to lately? 

What’s Up Wednesday

Today I’m jumping in on “What’s Up Wednesday,” a fun weekly meme started by my friends Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. From Jaime: It’s similar in some respects to the Currently… post, but it’s been whittled down to only four headings to make it quicker and more manageable on a weekly basis. You’re invited to join us if you’re looking for something to blog about, a way to let your blog friends know what’s been going on with you.

Fantastic, right? So, here’s what’s up with me…

What I’m Reading: I just finished Jamie McGuire’s Beautiful Disaster. I’ll share more about my thoughts tomorrow, but I have to say… I was entertained by all the angst. Trav and Abby’s dysfunctional, co-dependent relationship kept me captivated. Yesterday I started Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, which is predictably awesome so far.

What I’m Writing: *sigh* There’s the epic rewrite I’ve mostly sidelined but still think about often, and there’s the SNI WiP (the one that’s inspired by a Tim McGraw song), that I love, LoVe, LOVE, but has also put on the back burner. Mostly, I’m working on a requested revision of Cross My Heart that has mad potential thanks to notes from my amazingly brilliant and insightful agent. Motivation and inspiration and excitement are beautiful things.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Running. No surprise there. I ended up with 171 total miles for the month of April, putting me at 665 miles for 2013. Not too shabby. We’ve had gorgeous weather lately, so my girlie and I have been spending lots of time at the various parks in our neighborhood. Also, I’ve been watching Game of Thrones obsessively. I love that show SO MUCH. Daenerys is so compassionate, yet such a badass. I’m swooning over the recent romantic developments in Jon Snow’s storyline (though I wholeheartedly agree with Forever YA’s comment about the bath coming first). And King Slayer Jaime Lannister, once one of my most loathed characters, has turned out to be so very complex and fascinating (that final scene with Brienne on Sunday night… Whoa.). If you’re not watching this show, start now!

What Inspires Me Right Now: Last month I flaked on Fat Mum Slim‘s Photo a Day Challenge, but I think I’m going to jump back on the bandwagon this month. I’m finding these prompts quite inspiring…

And, since I’m doing lots of writing and revising these days, I’ve been listening to plenty of emotional country music. I’m particularly loving Lionel Richie’s Tuskegee, and Tim McGraw’s Southern Voice.

In Other, Far Sadder News: Yesterday we had to say goodbye to our sweet dog, Lucy. My husband and I adopted her when she was six weeks old, just after we were married nearly ten years ago. She’s been with us through several military moves, the adoption of an additional dog (Daisy, who is currently very sad), the birth and subsequent growing up of our daughter, and several deployments. Lucy was spunky and sassy and loved peanut butter with unrivaled passion. As much as I’ve complained about her shedding, her sneaky naps on the couch, and her shrill litte bark, I adored her. She was a loyal and wonderful pet. We will miss you very much, Lucy Goose. ♥♥♥

What have you been up to lately?