When Finn (don’t call me Finnegan) MacCullen arrived at Knight Gideon Lir’s house to begin his apprenticeship, he had no idea what he’d be in for.
The same goes for readers just starting The Adventures of Finn MacCullen series.
Book One is titled “Finn Finnegan,” and it is a high-octane mix of action, teenaged angst, and giant goblinesque creatures called Amandan. It is the Amandan that have him beginning his apprenticeship with Gideon in the first place. Finn is half-human, and half-Tuatha De Danaan, an ancient race who have battled the Amandan for untold centuries.
Finn isn’t sure what to expect from his apprenticeship, but he soon finds out what it includes: washing dishes, cleaning, doing chores, etc. Soon enough, though, he’s training in skills that could–and ultimately do–save his life.
Add in a jerk of a rival apprentice, some cool 100% mortal friends, as well as a ton of action, and you have an awesome ride.
What amazes me so much about Darby Karchut’s writing is that it moves seamlessly from one scene to another. In this and her “Griffin” series, there are no bone-jarring segues, which I think makes it easier for tweens and up to read. There are no wasted scenes, no filler. Everything is included for a reason, though that reason isn’t always clear at the time.
For example, I had one mystery in “Finn Finnegan” figured out about halfway through the book.
Until Ms. Karchut revealed just how wrong I was. It was like a hitter swinging in vain at a perfect curveball.
“Finn Finnegan” is full of action, too. There’s enough banter to establish the character’s world and mythology, but no overkill. Once things get started, they are started.
Another thing I liked about this book is that Finn doesn’t start out as a typical thirteen-year-old, undergo training and a few adventures, then emerge as a pinnacle of wisdom. Even though he shows amazing courage when he has to, he’s still just a kid all the way through, a kid who needs a hug now and then.
Darby Karchut spent years teaching middle-schoolers. You can tell that she learned a lot from them, but more importantly, that she loves them.
Finn isn’t a perfect kid, but who among us was (or is)? At day’s end, kids–perfect or imperfect–will adore “Finn Finnegan.”
(nb: I received a review copy of this novel from the publisher)