First of all, how legend is it when Melina Marchetta emails you, saying she came across your name—again—and wondered if you wanted a copy of her new book? Notice: again. As in, Melina Marchetta remembers you from past reviews/interviews you’ve done.
Anyway, from the publisher: Finnikin was only a child during the five days of the unspeakable, when the royal family of Lumatere were brutally murdered, and an imposter seized the throne. Now a curse binds all who remain inside Lumatere’s walls, and those who escaped roam the surrounding lands as exiles, persecuted and despairing, dying by the thousands in fever camps. In a narrative crackling with the tension of an imminent storm, Finnikin, now on the cusp of manhood, is compelled to join forces with an arrogant and enigmatic young novice named Evanjalin, who claims that her dark dreams will lead the exiles to a surviving royal child and a way to pierce the cursed barrier and regain the land of Lumatere. But Evanjalin’s unpredictable behavior suggests that she is not what she seems — and the startling truth will test Finnikin’s faith not only in her, but in all he knows to be true about himself and his destiny.
If you’ve been around long, you know I adore Marchetta’s previous fiction, Saving Francesca and Jellicoe Road. Both are modern, realistic, Aussie-teen novels. I knew going into Finnikin that it was a complete departure from those books. But this I didn't expect: if I’d been given a cover-less book, I would never have guessed the author. I can picture people grinning and hinting—“You love her!”—and my self squirming and trying to figure it out, but only afterward, when I knew the answer, would I have recognized clues.
Perri and Tesadora, Raffy and Chaz.
A scene where Finnikin is in the kitchen, surrounded by strong females, all feeding and fussing. Classic Marchetta feel.
Like Jellicoe and Francesca, Finnikin is a deeply emotional novel. There is pain and darkness and true life. Those who delight in epic fantasy will fully enjoy Finnikin. The experience reminded me of reading Frances Hardinge’s Lost Conspiracy. Both authors created intricate fantasies that are quite a departure from their previous work. As I said then, complex worlds with mazy customs and tongue-twisting names are not my cup of tea. But both Hardinge and Marchetta continued their tradition of excellent writing.
Finnikin is different; it is Chai when you're accustomed to Darjeeling. However, that sort of different only means enjoyed in a different way.
Also: (drag to uncover spoilers) Finnikin, I thought, savored strongly of A Winter's Tale... which is a good thing. I love that play, with a passion. ... the dungeon "death" at childbirth, the young prince's tragic murder, the princess growing up lost and unknown, meeting her unsuspecting future lover in a foreign land... Sir Topher as Camillo, Tesadora as Paulina, Froi as Autolycus... gorgeous spots of sort-of similarities.