Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Oh, it has been so long since I have been able to give a book 5 stars. But this is one that has most definitely and comprehensively earned them.
Good fantasy is easy to come by, great fantasy less so. This is, in my opinion one of the greats, for far too many reasons for me to write here, but I will share some of them.
Firstly there was the story. What a story. Full of bleakness and despair, hope and light, and so much emotion and spirit that I couldn't help falling into the world the author had created. It felt so alive, capable of twisting and turning in ways that left me reeling. There were so many peoples, so many cultures and somehow she was able to paint such detailed portraits of each with so few words. And that's the real marvel. It's not a long book, nor is it a series, yet the wealth of detail is miraculous. There were no gaps in the narrative, no moments of head scratching. I worried in the beginning as in the first few pages it felt as if I had turned to the middle of the book, but as I read, the author revealed her story through her characters. As each appeared, a new piece of the puzzle would fit into place. She paced it beautifully as it felt neither hurried nor stagnant. I have read authors who have tried to attempt the 'slow build'. They could learn a thing or two from Marchetta on the perfect execution of a well told tale.
And her writing, oh my. Lyrical without being ridiculous, but with sudden bursts of humour that had me snorting. Though there is so much sadness in this story, there is a balance. The humour is quick and sharp and delightful to read. One part in particular, as I wasn't expecting it sent me into a fit of giggles. Quite possible one of my favourite lines from a book ever. I will let you discover it for yourselves. Then through all the pain and suffering came the rewards, the parts that filled me with pure joy and warmth, for her poor characters really did deserve some happiness.
The most important part of this story though, and the part executed with the most loving care and attention, were her characters, the marvels that they are. Finnikin was a lead who was not afraid to show fear, but was not a coward. Nor was he looking to be the hero. He was honest and charming and the kind of character an author dreams of writing. Then there's Evanjalin. A ruthless and sometimes evil soul who was always on the path to good, she is a character of so many conflicts, but she was never confused as to what she was. A strong but broken girl that had pieced herself back together, so she could do what needed to be done. She wasn't a simpering brat, desperate to prove her worth and be worshipped for her selflessness. Yes, she had been through horrors, but somehow Marchetta made it impossible to dislike her for her unwillingness to share her ordeals, which can often times come across as forced, a character seeking pity so people would love and cherish her more. That wasn't Evanjelin, mainly because she just got on with the task at hand, no matter what it was.
If I could, I would mention the entire cast, as there are so many memorable characters, but that is the problem, there are just so many! All with stories and personalities of their own that Marchetta somehow managed to squeeze in amongst the dazzling unravelling of a fantastic plot.
Oh, boy. There is so much more I could say, but you'll just have to trust me and go read this yourself, so you can discover the things I have not said.
Quite simply I loved this book. It has everything I look for and more and will be one I hope to be able re-read again and again.
I seemed to have gushed quite a bit!! But it's just SO GOOOOOOD XD
View all my reviews