Like the first day of work for any reluctant teen, Finn Finnegan turns up to meet his mentor more in hope than expectation and gets catapulted into a world of breathtaking adventure. This is a story of guardianship, both within the life of the feisty hero, Finn, and within the world we live in, a world infested by an ancient enemy out to avenge their loss and recapture the land they’ve been banished from.
Darby does a great job of bringing ancient Celtic legends up to date. As someone who speaks a language even more ancient than gaelic, the constant slippage between the old words that don’t quite have English translations, and modern vernacular works brilliantly, even if most readers won’t even know how to pronounce them!
The struggle between good and evil is balanced by Finn’s inner struggle between sacrifice and fecklessness. At thirteen, Finn fights discipline and obedience almost as much as the terrifying beasts he’s in training to kill. And yet the points at which the old world and the new clash are well made and poignant. After all, even warriors have to buy groceries and deal with nosy neighbours, right? By giving us both Finn’s and Gideon’s (The Knight) points of view, the reader can at once identify with the teen’s hot temper, and the adult’s worry over balancing responsibility with recklessness. Anyone who’s had a child, or been one will know exactly what I mean.
A great mix of fantasy and hand to hand combat which is taylor made for middle grade. Look out for The Adventures of Finn MacCullen #2. Well done Darby.
Faugh a ballagh!