This review is a hard one for me to write, because Finn Finnegan isn’t a genre (meaning middle-grade) I’d normally pick up very often. Mostly, this is because I struggle with the younger tone/voice of the tale, the simplicity that often accompanies the plot (unless you count HP). However, I have read MG books before (thanks to my children), so I’m going to try and review this with regards to its target audience.
Finn Finnegan is a totally fun read. The voice is appropriate the age of the MC, and the age of the audience. Whilst the prose, for the most part, flows with enough ease to sweep you along, it does have a couple of issues. One, some of the sentence structure seemed a little off—though I doubt this would be noticed by the slightly younger readers; two, it was at times inconsistent, as sometimes the simplicity of word/description choices would slip aside for something quite brilliant and awesomely put together to slide in there. I would have liked to see a few more of those moments of brilliance along the ride, because those are the spots where I found myself smiling.
Let’s talk casting. As far as the MC goes, I had mixed feelings. On one hand, he’s a mere just-teen, so he’s supposed to have attitude. On the other, his behaviour, his arrogance, and often downright stupidity irked me. Considering poor Gideon had taken him in when it appeared his family hadn’t shown much of an interest in him, a little more gratitude could have been shown, and certainly more guilt over his disobedience and what I would consider betrayal of trust. Now, Gideon on the other hand, I really liked him. I loved his voice. I loved his wit. I loved his authenticity (and even had a moment of glee when I spotted the word ‘whilst’ within his dialogue, so often shunned by non-Brits). Not to mention the bear to the wolf (as described by Finn): Gideon’s friend Mac Roth. He was a great addition to the cast. His relationship with Gideon, his sense of humour. These two were like a double act that really helped bring this story to life. And then we have the humans. There are hints of being more to them than meets the eye, and I’m intrigued about that. I did think Gideon gave in a little too easily over Finn being friends with them. I’d have preferred slightly more head-butting or internal conflict before he gave in and allowed Finn to have his way. And I’m not wholly surprised Finn ended up having to protect them. I also suspect a young romance might be in the cards for future books in this series. Oh, and I so saw the whole report to authorities thing coming. It was pretty heavily foreshadowed so it was hard to miss.
Now what about the plot/the concept of the story? For this, I can’t really fault it. It’s original. It’s fresh. There’s action, Knights, some kind of prophecy, creepy monsters—or goblins to be more specific, the whole crows as allies deal, folklore and a whole lot more. Sure, I’d figured out what they were trying to a loooooot faster than they did, and so I already knew the ending (speaking of which, I thought it could have ended on a more exciting note), but that didn’t really detract from the fact that this is certainly a decent read for the age group it’s aimed at. So, all in all, a great start to a new MG series.