Writers of the Future grand prize winner Randy Henderson presents a dark and quirky debut in Finn Fancy Necromancy.
Finn Gramaraye was framed for the crime of dark necromancy at the age of 15, and exiled to the Other Realm for twenty five years. But now that he’s free, someone—probably the same someone—is trying to get him sent back. Finn has only a few days to discover who is so desperate to keep him out of the mortal world, and find evidence to prove it to the Arcane Enforcers. They are going to be very hard to convince, since he’s already been convicted of trying to kill someone with dark magic.
But Finn has his family: His brother Mort who is running the family necrotorium business now, his brother Pete who believes he’s a werewolf, though he is not, and his sister Samantha who is, unfortunately, allergic to magic. And he’s got Zeke, a fellow exile and former enforcer, who doesn’t really believe in Finn’s innocence but is willing to follow along in hopes of getting his old job back.
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published February 10th 2015 by Tor Books
Four stars: An original, quirky and funny Urban Fantasy full of 1980's humor.
Finn is eagerly looking forward to returning to the living realm. In 1986 when Finn was fifteen years old, he was accused and framed for a murder he supposedly committed with dark necromancy. Finn's spirit was exiled to the Other Realm, the land of the fey. Meanwhile, a fey changeling inhabited his human body. Upon his return, the changeling will transfer his memories of the last twenty five years to Finn. Unfortunately, the transfer goes terribly wrong, and Finn doesn't receive the memories. Worse he quickly finds someone is once again trying to frame him for crimes he didn't commit to get him exiled once again. Finn has only days to discover who is truly behind the crimes, otherwise he will lose everything. Can Finn clear his name?
What I Liked:
- In all honesty at first glance, Finn Fancy Necromancy is likely a book I would have passed over. The cover is a bit plain, and it doesn't exactly scream read me. I am certainly glad this book showed up in my mailbox, and that I took a chance on it. This was a creative and imaginative read with a complex plot, lots of paranormal entities, a suspenseful mystery sprinkled with a generous dose of humor. All in all, I had a terrific time with this book, and I recommend it to those who are looking for an Urban Fantasy that is different, especially if you are a fan of all things 1980s.
- Speaking of the 1980s, one of my favorite aspects of this novel was the heavy references to all things from this era. Finn has no memories beyond 1986 so in a sense, he is still stuck in the 1980s, so his outlook on the world, his ideas of popular culture and his vernacular reflects this era. I couldn't help but to snicker at Finn helplessly trying to navigate the twenty second century with a twenty first century knowledge. One of the funniest scenes in the book is when he is trying to give his younger brother, Petey, dating advice. Considering he went into exile at fifteen, Finn's ideas of romance and dating are drawn from popular romantic comedies from this era... here is a snippet of that conversation:
"Well, if you get an anonymous letter and think it's from the girl of your dreams, it's really from the girl next door. Don't let your computer fall in love with the girl you like. If you have the choice between suicide or dating a cute French girl, date the girl. Don't give a geek your underwear. And, uh, if your girlfriend likes to take long salt baths, she's probably a mermaid?"How fun is that? Can you guess all the movies? I was able to guess them all but the first, and I had to look that one up. There is so much more 80's goodness in here, if you grew up in this era, or you have a love for all things 1980's, you should read this book.
- This book is brimming with a cast of eclectic and eccentric characters. Finn himself is a necromancer with the ability to talk to deceased spirits. Finn's family is one of strangeness and disfunction. His deceased grandfather was a powerful necromancer and Finn's teacher. Finn's father has gone mad and only speaks in riddles. His mother is a ghost. Mort, Finn's older brother is an overbearing, power hungry necromancer. Finn's sister, Sammi, is allergic to magic, and the youngest brother, Petey, thinks he is a werewolf because of a prank Mort and Finn played on him when they were kids. Then you have to add in Finn's friend, Zeke,a former, exiled Enforcer, think a magic cop, who has a bit of a resemblance to Mr. T with his mustache and constant use of the word "fool". Zeke's sister speaks to an imaginary friend and she is a true waer creature. Add in a purple mohawked neighbor who is completely human and you have an unforgettable cast. Oh and there are also witches, gnomes, fey, sasquatches, alchemists and necromancers. Truly, an interesting and unforgettable cast of characters.
- The main story of the book centers around Finn trying to uncover who framed him all those years ago and why. I thought the mystery was suspenseful and well done. There were many suspects and lots of leads, but when the chips were all in place, I was shocked as to who the perpetrator was. I didn't see that one coming. Well played.
- Along with Finn trying to solve who framed him, you also have the interesting side story of Finn trying to plug back into his old life twenty five years later. I loved watching him flounder about in the new world while trying to reforge relationships with friends and family. So much fun.
- The ending was action packed and full of suspense and big reveals. Most of the main story threads were wrapped up, but there were a few niggling threads left open leaving me to think that this was not the end of the story. I was most curious after finishing this to see if there is a sequel, because as it ended, I think there will be another book which makes me happy.
And The Not So Much:
- This is a minor criticism, but it is important to me. I hate to think that I would have passed this book over because of the cover. It isn't exactly appealing and it is rather dull. I am not even sure what the creatures on the cover are supposed to be. This book does not reflect the fun and quirkiness of this book. I wish the cover screamed read me and was more eye catching.
- There is a lot to wrap your head around in this one. I admit there were times when I was a bit lost trying to keep everything straight as far as the fey, the arcana and everything else. It was hard to discern who was on who's side.
- The ending gave me pause. What was the deal with the changeling? What happened to the bad guy? I think that a sequel must be in the works because it felt a bit like a cliffhanger.
- I personally loved all multiple pop culture references from the 1980s, but if you aren't clued into this era, a lot of the jokes will go over your head, and a bit of something will be lost. This book might not work as well for a someone not familiar with American pop culture of the 1908s as they won't get a lot of the humor.
Finn Fancy Necromancy was a delightful and surprising find. This is a unique and funny Urban Fantasy stuffed with all the goodness of the 1980s. Not to mention it is smart and suspenseful. For all of you who love a good Urban Fantasy with humor, eccentric and fun characters and a good story line, I urge you to give this gem a go. I am hoping that there are more Finn Fancy Necromancy books in the works as I am now a fan.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
- For all of you curious about the 1980s movies referenced they are: