Monday, March 4, 2013

MGMM~Finn Finnegan

MGMM is the brainchild of the fabulous Shannon Messenger, spotlighting middle grade tales and giving them the attention they deserve. For more MG participants, go HERE.

Title: Finn Finnegan
Author: Darby Karchut
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Release Date: March 12, 1013
Pages: 200

I'd like to thank the author for providing me with a copy of this book for an unbiased review.

Favorite Lines/Passage: Finn nodded. Like my parents, he thought. Memories of the last time he'd ever seen them flooded his mind, memories of a red-headed man swinging him high int he air, his eyes more blue than the sky. A voice filled with laughter. A fall of soft brown hair appearing next to them, stirred by a breeze. A woman's delicate voice and the scent of lemon soap as she kissed him goodbye. 

Description: 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."


NIGHTSTAND WORTHY!! +1

My Splats: All kinds of middle grade awesomeness mingled with Fey, Celtic flair, and magic! We all can appreciate a great apprentice story.

I really enjoyed the MGish feel of the opening to this book. We first meet Finn while he's in the midst of a search. Soon, we discover he's not searching for something but someone--his trainer. As a reader I was thinking, "Trainer for what?" It was a clever beginning, luring me to read more and will definitely intrigue a middle grader. 

But proving even more clever was having Finn find that person--a raw and eclectic guy, not to mention huge in stature--rather quickly. At first, such a rapid reveal seemed anti-climatic, but soon it made sense. Because there was more, lots more to come. 

The story was filled with adventures and humor. Even some yucky enemies that go splat when illuminated during battle. Yup, they make a mess. The voice is wonderfully MG. Finn can speak boy-middle grade with the best of them. Although parents are absent from Finn's world, Karchut uses his relationship with his trainer, Gideon, to explore the actions, motivations, and hidden thoughts/feelings between a middle grader and a parental figure. Both share parts of themselves through journals, which are public to the reader but private to each other. I really liked this aspect of the story. 

The writing flows naturally as does the relationship it creates between Finn and Gideon. The Irish language and dialect Gideon shares with the reader are spot on. Meddling Fey or Fairies with Irish history was genius and quite believable. It was a great way to draw the reader into a never-ending battle that's been hidden from the mortal world for centuries and now depends on Finn's help to keep it hidden.  

Throughout the story, the reader watches Finn desperate to stay true to his heritage--his secret identity--while building a normal friendship with neighbor friends. As you can image, this proved difficult and added a complexity to the story. And when tragedy unexpectedly strikes Finn's new life with Gideon, he finds himself torn and reacting in a way he doesn't expect. 

This is an MG tale that really knows how to put the "fight" in the phrase "Fighting Irish".

Have you read any good middle grade stories, lately? What's your favorite from your MG days?

33 comments:

  1. This sounds good. I like the Celtic influences. Sounds like a great book for boys. I just finished The Runaway King. SO good!

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    1. Yeah, I think boys will really like the action and battling in this one!

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  2. I'm always looking for great middle grade books for my son! Thanks for sharing this :-D

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  3. I'm half-Irish and love books with magic, so I'm looking this one up. Thanks, Sheri!

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    1. Oh, that's awesome! Let me know what you think about how Darby does with the accent of Gideon. I'm not Irish, but I think she did a marvelous job.

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  4. I have this on my shelf waiting for me. If I ever finish these edits, I'll dive right in.

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  5. Thanks, Sheri, for reviewing my book. I had loads of fun writing it!

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  6. This looks fun--love the title!

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  7. I can't wait to read this too. My son is reading it right now.

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  8. I have heard of this one and it sounds great!

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    1. It's shorter and an easy read. I think any MGer will enjoy it, especially boys who love adventure and a little battling in between. LOL

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  9. And a +1! Wow. I love action/adventure stories. I bet Cat would enjoy this one. I'll put it on the list for after we finish Prydian! Thanks, Sheri! :D <3

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  10. Finn and Gideon are great characters. I enjoyed every page of this book and look forward to the next one in the series.

    Very nice review, Sheri.

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    1. Thanks, Bev. I'm looking forward to where Finn is headed, too!

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  11. It's been a long time since I last read MG, but this sounds worth picking up. Great review, Sheri.

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  12. I'll have to take a look at this. I think my students would be drawn to the cover, and adventure always goesover well,

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    1. Ooh, your students. So you teach middle grade? That is such a fun age...well, and confusing as heck. LOL

      I think lots of MGers would like this story. There's loads of action for boys, but enough tender moments for girls that I believe it would appeal to both.

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  13. The Inventor's Secret by Chad Morris is a great MG, and plus he's an awesome dude all around.

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    1. Ooh, I'll have to check that one out! I bet my youngest would get into it.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  14. great review, Sheri, but please don't ask me to say out loud "Tuatha De Danaan". Especially five times fast. :P

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  15. Darby's story is super. She really knows how to weave in the details and connect the characters in her series.

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  16. I'm reading this book this week and loving it. Great review!

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  17. I'm not a huge MG reader, but this sounds interesting. Great review!

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  18. Sounds like a good one. Thank you for sharing this, Sheri. Awesoem review!

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  19. Super review: I want to read this one NOW!

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  20. Aw...thx. Darby did an awesome job with the dialect in this one. Totally believable!

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  21. Great review! Sounds like a great read!

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  22. This sounds so great! Books with adventure and humor are so much fun! Thanks for sharing.

    I love MG books and read at least one a week. :) I post reviews of them on my blog. I just finished The Secret Tree, which was much better than I expected.

    ~Jess

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    1. Ooh, great to know you read lots of MG and enjoy doing reviews. I'll add you to my list of reviewers - I'm going to be posting it soon. Plus, I have half an MG manuscript written. Maybe at some point I'll finish it and actually get it published! :)

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