Finn is about to breathe free air after twenty-five years imprisonment for a crime he didn’t commit, but instead of eating carb-heavy meals while trapped in a 6×8 cell, he been living a non-corporeal existence in the land of Fae. His punishment has been reliving memories from his first fifteen years of life for their entertainment while his body has been on loan, used by a Fae in the mundane world.
“Just seeing those shapes and colors without having to manifest them from my own memory was enough to bring tears to my eyes. Actually, it caused butterflies to leak from the jewel-like lights that floated in the blob that served as my head, but the point is, it was damn good to see Earth again.”
In the midst of transfer to his now forty-year old body, something attacks the party, killing his warden and possibly a fellow parolee. Shortly after, Finn discovers a dead body in the trailer his body’s been living in.
“Perhaps I should have been more shocked by the body, but I wasn’t. Maybe because I still felt numb from the events of the transfer… Or maybe I really was just stunned by the gaudy awfulness of the changling’s tastes. It was like Rainbow Brite had been given a BeDazzler, a flock of shedding peacocks, and a credit card and told to go crazy.”
When he discovers the identity of the body, he realizes he’s being framed. He heads home to the family residence and business, certain that he’ll find help–as well as the person responsible for his imprisonment. Magical law enforcement finds him at home and gives him three days before they’ll take him in and scour his memories.
Urban fantasy can be hit or miss for me, but Henderson has something good going. Given the three day frame, the plot moves quickly. Although the focus is discovering who framed Finn, it’s more a journey of self-discovery/growth than supernatural mystery. Finn is distracted by catching up with friends and family, but perseverance pays off. Regarding plot, I might have seen a double-cross coming from Mt. Rainier, but it was only a small piece of the overall plot.
Characterization is engaging, if somewhat preoccupied with the self-discovery arc. Finn admits he is immature in many ways. But he’s also gained some insight, so he’s an interesting mix of fifteen and forty. Adjusting to his aged father and siblings, as well as his new niece, gives a chance to observe others as an outsider, comparing memories to the new reality. It feels nicely real, with the exception of his somewhat simple brother Petey, who is convinced he’s a waerwolf. Still, their relationship is sweet. Essentially a modern setting with magic that the “mundies” know nothing about, world-building is nicely integrated with the story line.
“After all the things about my life and the world that I’d found changed in the last few hours, all the things I’d realized were lost to me during my exile, Pete’s trust in me as his big brother was comforting, and I found myself wiping tears from my cheeks.”
As should be evident from the quotes, there’s also a lot of humor, as well as more than a few 1980s references. As a confused, shocked, sort-of teenager who is magically and physically underpowered, I thought it was a lot more appropriate than many other lead characters, say, for instance, a forty year-old urban wizard. Worth noting for those who are detail-oriented–I tend to not be overly hung up on logistics–but as I was re-reading, it occurred to me that a few of Finn’s comments are inappropriately current. A character who takes after Mr. T and overuses the word “fool” grows a little tiresome, but otherwise it should entertain those who feel a little 80s nostalgia.
“Zeke conked Mort on the head with the baton, not hard enough to cause any bleeding or sleepy time, but damn, that must have hurt anyway. ‘OW!’ Mort shouted, confirming the hurtiness.”
There’s something about it that just misses me. Could be a genre issue, could be a mood issue. I tend to prefer police procedural over the self-discovery arc. There’s definitely re-read potential, but I’ll likely be focused on the next book. Tone reminds me of Huff’s Enchantment Emporium. I’d highly recommend this for fans of urban fantasy.
Plus, that title! So lyrical–I can’t tell you how often I started chanting, “Finn Fancy Necromancy.”