At the age of nine, Finnikin is warned by the gods that he must sacrifice a pound of flesh to save his kingdom. He stands on the rock of the three wonders with his friend Prince Balthazar and Balthazar’s cousin, Lucian, and together they mix their blood to safeguard Lumatere.
But all safety is shattered during the five days of the unspeakable, when the king and queen and their children are brutally murdered in the palace. An impostor seizes the throne, a curse binds all who remain inside Lumatere’s walls, and those who escape are left to roam the land as exiles, dying by the thousands in fever camps.
Ten years later, Finnikin is summoned to another rock—to meet Evanjalin, a young novice with a startling claim: Balthazar, heir to the throne of Lumatere, is alive. This arrogant young woman claims she’ll lead Finnikin and his mentor, Sir Topher, to the prince. Instead, her leadership points them perilously toward home. Does Finnikin dare believe that Lumatere might one day rise united? Evanjalin is not what she seems, and the startling truth will test Finnikin’s faith not only in her but in all he knows to be true about himself and his destiny. (Goodreads)
Normally I try to give a more detailed recap than what the back cover or online description says, but I really think the above description nails it. The basic premise is so perfectly described. There is no way I can do it better.
This book is epic. I mean, I shouldn’t be surprised because it’s a Melina Marchetta (creator of Jonah Effing Griggs thankyouverymuch) book. This one is so completely different from her other novels that I didn’t know what to expect— but let me assure you, as with all of her other books, with Finnikin I was swept away.
I fell completely in love with the main characters in this story. Evanjelin was a heroine who was so fantastic because she wasn’t perfect and sweet and beautiful all of the time. At her core, she is all of those things, but she’s also not always trustworthy, she’s secretive and she and Finnikin often disagree. Her motives are good and her intentions are never evil, but there are times that even that seems hard to believe. And Finnikin. What can I say about him? He’s full of pride and fear and courage and sadness. And he’s both mesmerized and irritated by Evanjelin’s presence. He wants to believe that Balthazar is alive and that his kingdom can be restored, and yet he fears to truly hope for it.
Fantasy is not normally my thing, outside of rare cases like Graceling and Cassandra Clare’s books. I definitely prefer realism. But oh, oh, lordy this one enveloped me. The setting is dark. The situation is bleak. And yet the hope found in the very mention of Balthazar and the sweetness of the memories of Lumatere bring such a sense of pride to the characters and it pushes them forward against insurmountable odds because they believe in their cause and in their old way of life. There is such beauty, as always, in Marchetta’s writing, in her fantastically flawed characters—both Evanjelin’s secretive ways and in all of Finnikin’s awkward bravery.
As with other Marchetta novels, there are many characters and overlapping stories. Be prepared to meet many people and to visit many places. It can seem a bit overwhelming at times, but don’t allow yourself to get discouraged. The payoff is rewarding. This is a fantastic book. Finnikin and Evangelin are awesome characters in their own right, but put them together and they are pretty freaking swoonworthy too.
Crush Intensity: 5/5
The Way I See It:
So at first, my head was here:
I mean you can see why, right. Obviously it was the scarf. For sure.
But Finnikin is a ginger. When I think of a ginger I think of Ron from Harry Potter (too many funny faces), even though I luuuurve him.
Or I think of Eddie Redmayne. This is probably because of The Pillars of the Earth miniseries WHICH I FREAKING LOVED.
Which means that clearly I need to picture Hayley Atwell as Evanjelin. I mean, hello. They go together in my head now.
I want to give a shout out to my friend Sandie at Teen Lit Rocks. Sandie pushed me to read Finnikin (as I was dragging my feet since I’m not normally drawn to fantasy). She has a great article about Evanjelin on her blog. You should check it out!