Author: Melina Marchetta
Publication Date: 3/13/12
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Blurb(GR): From master storyteller Melina Marchetta comes an exhilarating new fantasy springing from her celebrated epic, Finnikin of the Rock.
Three years after the curse on Lumatere was lifted, Froi has found his home . . . or so he believes. Fiercely loyal to the Queen and Finnikin, Froi has been taken roughly and lovingly in hand by the Guard sworn to protect the royal family, and has learned to control his quick temper with a warrior's discipline. But when he is sent on a secretive mission to the kingdom of Charyn, nothing could have prepared him for what he finds in its surreal royal court. Soon he must unravel both the dark bonds of kinship and the mysteries of a half-mad princess in this barren and mysterious place. It is in Charyn that he will discover there is a song sleeping in his blood . . . and though Froi would rather not, the time has come to listen.
I always have a hard time reviewing these books: the ones that aren’t read so much as frantically consumed in a whirlwind of gluttonous book hedonism. Afterward I feel like, “What just happened to me? Yesterday is such a blur…a happy, sad, angry, intense blur.”So, I’ll just apologize now, because this review probably won’t be very coherent.
This book begins like a lot of Melina Marchetta books. (In fact, I might say that all of her best books begin this way.) There’s a mad jumble of names, events, and relationships spilled out in the first few chapters; it feels like not only a map (which is helpfully provided) but a family tree and a flow chart of some kind might be necessary to keep track of it all. It’s confusing. But, I am not some greenie; I am a Melina Marchetta veteran! I know by now to just keep reading. Sure enough, everything becomes clear (not to mention, extremely engrossing) in no time at all.
This book claims on the outside to be about Froi: the young thief and exile who becomes a dedicated Lumateran in Finnikin of the Rock. And there’s no doubt that it is. But of course, we can count on Melina Marchetta for so much more than that. Every one of her books has a complete cast of consuming, vibrant characters and this book is no exception. This book is written in third person but shifts between the perspectives of four different relationships. So, as Froi takes up a dangerous errand and heads into Charyn, the notorious kingdom that once invaded Lumatere and incited a horrible curse, we also get to keep up with all his surrogate family left behind. For all of the Finnikin of the Rock fans out there: rejoice! You’ll get plenty of time with Finnikin, Isaboe, Lucian, Lady Beatriss, Trevanion, Tesadora, and…Jasmina. I’m not going to tell you who that last one is; you’ll have to read this to find out!
I don’t even know where to start on the major themes of this book. In a way, this book is about the many facets of romance: infatuation, lust, companionship, love, betrayal, understanding, redemption. It’s also about identity, family, war, hatred, curses, misunderstandings, history, and perspectives. This is one hefty book and I’m not just referring to its massive size.
There were so many times where I thought, “No…she wouldn’t….” But OF COURSE she would. There were also times that I assumed dark and dreadful things and she surprised me with lightness and grace. Everything that she writes just feels so true to life. Life isn’t tragic and dark and it’s not easy and wonderful either, but it is both of these at once. People aren’t just greedy or just good or just anything. A whore can be a mother, a severely damaged girl can be a born ruler, an outcast can be a diplomat, a once violent boy can be a healer of women, and an “evil” kingdom is much more than the sum of its parts.
Perfect Musical Pairing
TV on the Radio – Family Tree
”Were laying in the shadow of your family tree
Your haunted heart and me
Brought down by an old idea whose time has come
And in the shadow of the gallows of your family tree
There's a hundred hearts soar free
Pumping blood to the roots of evil to keep it young”