Holy cats!!! Today I am honored to offer you my review of Darby Karchut’s Finn Finnegan: Book One of the Adventures of Finn MacCullen. I have been reading and reviewing Darby’s books for a couple of years now and I can honestly say she is in my Top Five of favorite authors 🙂 She is also one of the coolest people I have ever met and I am proud to say she has become a friend as well as a favorite author. I do hope you all will enjoy the review and I would like to thank both Darby and Kendra at Spencer Hill press for allowing me to participate in this tour!! Yes, there is a tour 🙂
Finnegan MacCullen: a thirteen-year-old apprentice with the famous Irish temperament.
Gideon Lir: a legendary Celtic warrior with a bit of a temper of his own.
Secretly, these blue-collar warriors battle the hobgoblins infesting their suburban neighborhood…when they are not battling each other.
Finn (not bleedin’ Finnegan) MacCullen is eager to begin his apprenticeship. He soon discovers the ups and downs of hunting monsters in a suburban neighborhood under the demanding tutelage of the Knight, Gideon Lir. Both master and apprentice are descendents of the Tuatha De Danaan, a magical race of warriors from Ireland. Scattered long ago to the four corners of the world, the De Danaan wage a two thousand year old clandestine battle with their ancient enemy, the Amandán, a breed of goblin-like creatures.
Now with the beasts concentrating their attacks on Finn, he and his master must race to locate the lost Spear of the Tuatha De Danaan, the only weapon that can destroy the Amandán, all the while hiding his true identity from his new friends, Rafe and Savannah, twins whose South African roots may hold a key to Finn’s survival.
Armed with a bronze dagger, some ancient Celtic magic, and a hair-trigger temper, Finn is about to show his enemies the true meaning of “fighting Irish
Someday I am going to write a totally professional, eloquently crafted, non-gushy review. Today is not that day so pull on your rain boots ‘cause I am about to gush all over the place about the beginning of a promising new series by one of my hands-down favorite authors, Darby Karchut. Let the gushing begin . . .
Finn (not bleedin Finnegan!) MacCullen is a bit lost: both of his parents are dead; he is generally overlooked or just ignored in his aunt and uncle’s home; he is often teased for being a half-breed and; he is due to begin his apprenticeship to become a Knight of the Tuatha De Daanaan if he can just find the home of his new master. See? Lost.
Because of his very nature, it doesn’t take Finn long to find the home of his master, Gideon Lir, a hulk of a man with a fabulous Irish accent, a wretched training schedule, and a heart of pure gold! Gideon makes it clear to Finn from the beginning, their mission is deadly serious and the training to become a Knight of the Tuatha De Danaan is rigorous, intense, and absolutely necessary. For Finn, this knowledge and Gideon’s house feels like home. When not training, Gideon helps Finn understand the long and fascinating history of the Tuatha, their relationship to Ireland and why the Knights are still needed in this most modern period. Finn soaks it all up like a skinny sponge and while he often complains (loudly!) about the rigors of training he still completes his tasks (mostly) and works hard (most of the time) to become a help rather than a hindrance in battle. You see, the Knights are charged with exterminating the Amandán, a super-stinky race of creatures who want possession of Ireland just as badly as the Knights do. The Amandán are fearless, mouthy, hard to disable and even harder to kill. As the plot unfolds we find out just how truly smelly and hard to kill the Amandán really are as Finn and Gideon fight side-by-side to destroy their enemy. During the fight scenes we see what Finn is made of: he is a fierce fighter with a loyal heart and some stunning anger management issues. Though he has a lot still to learn about the fine art of fighting, Finn never gives up and does everything within his power to protect Gideon.
As with all of Darby K.’s books, Finn Finnegan is driven by its fully developed and highly realistic characters. Despite being members of an ancient, noble, and mythic race, Finn and Gideon are still very much a part of the human world making them relatable to the reader. Finn and Gideon are joined by a cast of minor characters including Mac Roth, a mighty beast of a Knight who is one of Gideon’s oldest and dearest friends and the twins Rafe and Savannah Steel who live across the street from Finn and Gideon. While Gideon warns Finn it is unwise and generally forbidden for a Tuatha to mingle with mortals, Finn is drawn to the twins and often disobeys Gideon’s orders to stay away from the Steel kids. Rafe and Savannah are delightful characters who are easy to like, much to Gideon’s great displeasure. 🙂 These characters are some of the most realistic I have encountered in the world of fiction. Karchut writes such excellent descriptions, dialogue, and interactions that her characters no longer feel like creations of the imagination on a page but real people, friends even. Even if the plot sucked (which it totally does not) I would come back to this series again and again to check in on the lives of these people!
The Bottom Line: Finn Finnegan is fresh new read dealing with Celtic myth and legend, a subject often sadly ignored in popular fiction. The short-term plot is wrapped up nicely by novels’ end but we are left with a ton of unanswered questions. For example: Why does Rufus Steel (the twins’ dad) behave in such a shady manner? What’s up with the Steel twins? Although I am not sure even they realize the full extent of it, the twins know more about Finn’s world than they are letting on. What secrets from his past is Gideon hiding? Who is Iona and why does Gideon not trust her? Perhaps most importantly, is Finn really the weapon of legend that can bring an end to the Amandán?
While this book is marketed for a middle-grade audience I find this designation both limiting and ridiculous. Finn Finnegan is a fine story with excellent characters and fascinating subject matter that can and will appeal to an audience far and wide from nearly every age group. Stop thinking about it and buy this book now!!
Darby Karchut is an award-winning author, teacher, and a compulsive dawn greeter. She lives in Colorado with her husband and owns more backpacks than purses. As she should.
Her YA books include GRIFFIN RISING (2012 Children’s Literary Awards Gold Medal, 2011 Sharp Writ YA Book of the Year), GRIFFIN’S FIRE (2011 Readers Favorite Bronze Medal for YA Fantasy), and GRIFFIN’S STORM (November 2012). Her debut Middle Grade novel, FINN FINNEGAN (Spencer Hill Press) will be released March 2013. The next book in the Finnegan series, GIDEON’S SPEAR (Spencer Hill Press) will be released February 2014. She has also co-authored a non-fiction book for teens entitled MONEY AND TEENS with her husband, author Wes Karchut.
Visit Darby’s website: www.darbykarchut.com
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