Patricia Hamill lives on the East Coast of the United States with her family. She enjoys reading and writing, and has a special fondness for anything fantasy or fiction. In addition to her love of literature, she also enjoys crafting with fiber arts (anything with a hook, needle and some sort of cloth or yarn), practicing Isshinryu Karate, visiting scenic parks, and exploring local bodies of water via canoe with her son.
Where to find Patricia Hamill online
Where to buy in print
by Patricia Hamill
Series: Shadows of Valor, Book 2.
Approx. 43,750 words.
Published on November 20, 2013.
Continuing from Shadows of Valor, Edwin is stuck back at SAC headquarters reeling from the effects of his first mission. Haunted by nightmares and recovering from a training injury, Edwin desperately seeks a solution to the horrors that blast him awake each night without fail. At the same time, war waits for no man, and the Commander assigns him a new mission into the heart of Veracka.
The Golden Ship
by Patricia Hamill
Approx. 28,830 words.
Published on September 29, 2013.
A letter arrives which sends Wilde and his father on an epic journey they will never forget, where they will discover new friends and forgotten relatives and learn the secrets of a mysterious island where a miraculous bounty rewards faithful inhabitants while terrible consequences await those who stray. Will they decide to stay, or will they risk everything to return to their former lives?
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Smashwords book reviews by Patricia Hamill
- Josh Anvil and the Cypress Door
on March 21, 2013
Excellent fantasy for middle schoolers.
I really enjoyed this book and it kept me entertained for nearly a week. Of course, the fact that the main character gets fantastic, nearly limitless powers is a fun element and the way Josh chooses to use his powers makes me wonder what I would do differently if I had powers like that.
The StoryTellers Club, an amusingly formal organization similar to the Toastmasters where members dress up in suits to camp out in one of the kid's back yard for their story telling finale, provides a clever twist. One of Josh's powers is activated when he tells stories, causing trouble early on when he tells a story about ancient spiders that once lived in the local swamps only to have them come to life during his story.
But it isn't all fun and games. His parents support him and try to teach him to use his powers for unselfish ends by having him volunteer at the hospital, probably my favorite part of the book, though it probably wasn't a good way to keep him safe from public attention. His activities quickly catch the attention of the media and eventually the government. Besides that, it bothers me that Josh can create people who end up doting on him, cleaning house or acting as handyman caretaker for the family. After the first time, I expected his parents to tell him that was unacceptable; it's what I would have done, too close to creating indentured servants. Sure, they were happy servants, he built that into them when he made them, but I still think it was an abuse of power that his parents should have discouraged (and they definitely didn't).
Underlying the story, the city of Baton Rouge is on fire as serial arsonists targets buildings across the city and Josh's and his friend Troy's fathers are constantly called away to fight them. It's a mystery which I don't think is ever completely explained, although the culprits are identified. Perhaps in the next book. I don't think the mystery of the fires or the casual approach Josh and Troy took to figure out who was responsible is as much the focus of the book as the description implies. It supported some of the things going on, provided some element of danger, but failed to really drive the characters in any way until the very end, and even then it was kind of out of nowhere.
Overall, I liked the story, enjoyed the juvenile interplay between the characters, and loved Josh's quirky creations and good deeds. I think this book would be a good bet for someone in the range of 12-15 years old.
Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest, non-reciprocal review.
- Train to Nowhere
on July 07, 2013
Train to Nowhere is YA Dystopian at its finest. The story opens with Garland "venting his frustration" in a performance with his partner, Little Byte. The theme: Outside, anywhere outside! The euphoria is short lived, however, when reality snaps him into post-performance depression. His friends, especially the librarian Dos and Little Byte, try to cheer him up. But rumors that his already claustrophobic world will soon shrink even further fill his mind, for Garland is an Orphan, illegally born and fated to live out his entire life on one of the Orphan trains, never to see the sky, feel the wind on his face, or know true freedom. Sure, he can pull them up on the view screen in his room, but it will always be VR (virtual reality).
Most Orphans are content with their lot, but Garland remembers a time when he wasn't on the train: sunshine through a window, a blue quilt, a companion. Unlike the others, Garland remembers the outside. The games, the diversions, and the "jobs" given orphans to placate them are not enough when freedom is all he desires. Then, he learns that his friend Dos has a plan to escape.
Meanwhile, another musician, this one Landed, looks over his domain in utter triumph. Having clawed over his colleagues through guile and deceit, Hedge stands ready to advance in the ranks of the illustrious Golden Performers Guild. Nothing and no one can stand in his way, especially if he has anything to do about it.
The story is riveting, the three castes (Orphan, Landed and Nomad) are fully developed and intriguing, and Admin is terrifying. Admin cares, or does it? The question haunts Garland throughout his adventures and misadventures. Fundamental beliefs about security vs. freedom are explored. Garland's quest to find where he belongs and who he really is under all the programming keeps you guessing until the very end. Enemies, both internal and external, challenge him at every turn.
I loved this book and have to rate it a solid five stars. If I could rate it higher, I wouldn't hesitate to do so. The quirky lingo of the Orphans, the character names derived from old computer terms, the sinister enemies and the unique caste culture hooked me from the start and kept me entranced until the utterly satisfying end.
I would recommend this book to lovers of ya dystopian books, like Hunger Games or Moon Dwellers, as well as sci fi fans who are looking for something different (no spaceships, but the train is pretty close).
I am grateful to have received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest, non-reciprocal review.
- The Prophecy of Tara
on July 09, 2013
The Prophecy of Tara is a story of prophecy, epic battles and magic. Tara was raised by monks and has trained her entire life in preparation for her role in an ancient prophecy. Protected by lizard skin armor (magical in nature) and by her superior warrior skills, she still discovers she cannot complete her quest alone.
As luck may have it, she attracts attention and assistance from several equally yet diversely skilled people along the way: Reed, a spaceman with a laser sword; Luggo, a northern warrior giant; Steph, a burly blacksmith with a secret; and Tianna, a roguish magician's assistant. The wizard Duphrene and his involuntarily shapeshifting companion Sistera eagerly await the arrival of Tara but are unable to assist for fear of interfering with the prophecy.
Besides the heroes, the villains are equally memorable and at times despicable. The evil power is formless in itself, but hides and grows in power within the hearts of a family. They send agents and mercenaries to intercept and destroy Tara and her companions, lending Tara's journey the feel of a constant battle for survival, though the various fights aren't necessary connected. As in other R.L. Kiser books, not all of the villains are what they seem. It's always interesting to see how things play out.
My only caution is that this book should be limited to adult readers due to some seriously explicit passages reminiscent of the depredations of the Mord Sith in Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series. The battles are also graphically described and gory.
Overall, I really liked this book, though I can only make it through one or two battle scenes in a single sitting (probably why it took me a while to read the story). The characters are charismatic and their banter is humorous. I enjoyed the magical elements and the hints at a greater history.
I recommend this book to adult fantasy lovers who don't mind quite a bit of battle gore and some sexually explicit content.
I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest, non-reciprocal review.
- Exile-A SciFi Adventure
on July 10, 2013
Genius star man crash lands on Earth in 1600's Japan.
Exile is really two complete stories in one, although it isn't broken down that way in the table of contents.
Exile begins as Kendrick surveys his new home. Having narrowly escaped the empire who destroyed his own civilization, he's picked an out of the way, undeveloped world where he hopes they won't follow. But his arrival does not go unnoticed. A local lawman, or Shukido, investigates the "meteor" landing site and discovers him. Kendrick becomes friends with these surprisingly civilized natives and proves himself to them early on by helping them deter an invasion force from a local warlord. A rebellious daughter of the local shipbuilder catches his eye and the two hit it off.
But Kendrick worries that those he has come to love will suffer for it when his ship's sensors detect a drone entering Earth's atmosphere. Will it find him? If it does, will he be able to protect his new friends and their way of life from the soulless soldiers of the empire?
The second story in the book begins several years later after Kendrick is well settled into his new life. An idle conversation turns into a bet when Kendrick's father-in-law, remembering his youth, bets that his smaller racing boat can beat Kendrick's larger one in a race down the coast and through a particularly nasty stretch of water. Despite reservations, Kendrick agrees.
When the race turns sour, Kendrick and Doiyoko find themselves shipwrecked and have to find their way back to Honashi village by foot. When they run into bandits and a mysterious young woman, things get interesting.
I liked this book, but was surprised when the first part completely wrapped up midway through the book, and the second part picked up years later.
Each part is well-developed and researched. Being from an advanced race (and likely a genius), Kendrick is able to recreate many of the technological advancements his hosts have yet to develop, much to their amazement. In addition to the detailed descriptions of how these things are done, the author effectively and humorously shows how communication between Kendrick and his friends progresses from hand signals and facial expressions all the way to speaking their language.
I found the characters to be interesting and well-developed and the world to be vividly described and believable. And, of course, the battle scenes are fast-paced and bloody, using both weapons of the time and the futuristic weapons brought by Kendrick and his enemies to good effect. The author has a knack for bringing you into the battle.
In an almost mystical way, Kendrick also befriends a tiger. I enjoyed the comical interactions between the two and how the tiger intimidates enemies, but I had to force myself to disregard that real tigers are not likely to act like house cats or befriend humans so readily. Maybe it's something about Kendrick's alien DNA that allows the connection.
On another note, I feel the overwhelming awesomeness of the main character, the unlikely friendship with the tiger, and a few parts that were hard to follow (especially those that cataloged technological builds in detail) kept me from fully enjoying the story and rating it higher, but for the most part I liked it.
Overall, this is a entertaining book on many levels. Those who enjoy reading about real-life and and science fiction technology will enjoy the technical parts. Those who like laser fights and battles between uneven forces where the underdog must overcome long odds will enjoy the battles. Those who like strong women who overcome social barriers and can hold their own will enjoy Doiyoko, Kendrick's love interest. Those who enjoy a little mystical and technological awesomeness in their main character will love Kendrick. And, finally, those who enjoy humorous situations and camaraderie will find more than a sufficient dose in this book to satisfy their funny bones.
Note: I received a free copy of this book for an honest, non-reciprocal review.
- Chicago Chase
on July 10, 2013
Great escapes, ambushes, avalanches and more.
Chicaco Chase, sequel to Educated Injun, is a wild west adventure that moves along at a good pace. I enjoyed the banter between Hawk and Merle, as I did in the first book, and the new character, Pike, kept me laughing the whole time.
In this installment, the Judge sends Hawk and Merle after Pearson who is wanted for killing two men. As they come close to catching him, they find that he also has a hand in cattle rustling. Seems like a typical old west tale at first, but then things get interesting when hints of stolen gold, savage Kiowa indians and smarmy army men with their own secrets come into the picture. Add to that the cat and mouse chases, battle royales in moving trains and shoot outs with outlaws and indians and it's quite a wild ride.
On the downside, I got lost a few times here and there where something happens and then something that happened before that is added afterwards. Also, some of the earlier chapters seem a bit rushed, especially with descriptions of dialog in place of actual dialog. A bummer because R.L.'s dialog and comical character interactions are the highlight of his stories. Luckily, everything picks right up when the team reaches Chicago and everything I love about his writing begins to shine through.
Overall, I enjoyed this story and would recommend it to folks who love a good western, a good chase or mischeivous characters with a lot of personality (gotta love how Hawk always manages to snag one or more of the Judge's cigars).
Note: I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.
- The Twelve Tablets
on July 10, 2013
I enjoyed The Twelve Tablets by R.L. Kiser.
The crystal warrior, Darian, returns to the deep desert with his father in tow when a strange disturbance in the world tells him it's time to resolve the mystery of the twelve tablets once and for all. They soon reach the Crossroads, a nearly permanent tent city in the deep desert, where Darian's friend Rashim reveals that not all is well. Instead of Rashim having become Shiek, his cousin Achmed the Terrible has taken that title for himself.
Worried that they'll be followed to the goddess Narine's elusive temple and its tempting riches, Darian and Rashim are in luck with Aweil of the Dance (Tarina the Crystal Warrior) and her constant companion Prince Abdul arrive and volunteer to provide a distraction, allowing Rashim, the scholarly Mahmud and of course Darian and his father Dorian to escape unnoticed.
Despite the harsh nature of the desert, the small group soon finds the third tablet, all that stands between them and access to the chamber of The Twelve Tablets. But when they finally reach the tablets, they are in for a surprise, for not only do they release the benevolent Lady Mist, but also her dark counterpart the Evil She (or Dark Witch).
From there the action takes off and both Crystal Warriors and their desert friends must fight to save the world from the escaped evil that threatens to engulf the entire world under its foul shadow.
What I most enjoy about this story is the ability of the author to draw one into the minds of his characters, even those who happen to be on the "wrong" side of the battle. Additionally, the banter is natural and entertaining, the characters are complex and dynamic, and the battles are epic and exciting. On that note, few authors are able to narrate a battle with such skill that they can keep me from skimming through them, but R.L. Kiser is one of them.
- The Last Battle
on July 10, 2013
Excellent story. I devoured this book in a day and a half.
If you've read Crystal Fire, you'll recognize many of the characters in The Last Battle as their younger, less scarred selves. And yes, this is the last battle referenced in that work.
Norsemen armies are gathering under the malevolent eye of the evil witch, Thisrena, but after generations of peace and prosperity, the leaders of Crystal City find themselves struggling to prepare their undermanned defenses for the imminent invasion.
In the City, Tarina, Macon and Rowan kick the training of the newest recruits into high gear, shifting much of that effort into a dangerous plan that may be all that stands between the Crystal and the northern hordes.
In the desert, young but talented Darian falls in with fellow Crystal Warrior Tyros, when they find themselves fighting over the same horse after receiving their separate urgent recalls to Crystal City. Darian has an interesting backstory, one that becomes important in the next Tale of the Crystal, The Twelve Tablets. The cammaraderie between these two is natural and humorous.
In the North, Glynnis, a former healer in the service of the Crystal, sets out for Crystal City with his own goals in mind. On the way, he meets and joins Reynos, a spy who is returning to Crystal City to report on the movements of the Northern Army.
Will Crystal City's defenders turn back the hordes? Will Glynnis succeed in his diabolical plans? Will the nameless Evil strike a fatal blow against The Crystal?
Overall, I enjoyed the banter between the various characters, the insight into the hierarchy of the Crystal City, and, of course, the intrigue behind the battle between the forces of good and evil. Well done!
- Crystal Fire
on July 10, 2013
This is a good story, full of magic and some very surprising characters and twists.
The Crystal is under attack and the call to action is sent out to the widely scattered crystal warriors, who took themselves to the far corners of the world after their traumatic victory at The Last Battle.
Rowan, the first recalled to Crystal City, drops everything when he learns his love, the Lady Ariel, desperately needs his help. The second warrior, Macon, wakes from a self-induced alcoholic haze when his crystal amulet lures him into the hold of a ship heading towards the City. And Tarina, going by the stage name Awiel, bids farewell to the handsome Arrat, master of the traveling band of entertainers with whom she performs as a dancer, when her own crystal beckons.
Each warrior is swept up into his or her own adventure in their quest to save the Crystal, and the action rarely stops especially when they all finally cross paths with each other.
Charming and mysterious characters, magical creatures, and not-so-perfect foes make this a fun read.
- Educated Injun
on July 10, 2013
Educated Injun is an energetic, action-adventure set in the Old West.
The main character, Merle, finds himself in trouble when he takes on a job that's too good to be true and ends up on the bad side of some cattle rustlers. He soon teams up with Hawk, an indian marshall, who helps him out of the bind in exchange for his assistance in going after the guy behind not only the rustling, but also smuggling and other nefarious deeds.
I most enjoyed the fast paced, action driven storyline and the tongue-in-cheek banter between Merle and Hawk (and between Hawk and the judge that put him through college). Besides that, I got a kick out of Merle's nemesis, a certain shoulder cannon with, well, a kick.
In summary, Educated Injun is action-packed, funny, clever, and entertaining.
- The Forbidden Cuisine
on Oct. 07, 2013
A dish of humor served with a side of gore. Short, creepy, creative...
Feast is the first in the Feast, Stray, Love short story trilogy. The story begins with Damien being rescued by his teacher after passing out and causing a massive fire at the local college. Upon waking in the hospital, he learns he has a brain tumor, and his doctor performs the surgery to remove it. Unfortunately for Damien, his doctor is a bit of a quack and scrambles a few things up while working on him. Luckily, Damien's mother and boyfriend are there to support him through his recovery, but the extra job his boyfriend picks up to help cover expenses soon leads to unexpected complications in their relationship, and his doctor's shoddy operating techniques lead to complications of their own.
First off, I must say I don't frequently read stories specifically focused on men in romantic relationships with each other. That being said, I found the relationship believable and, for the most part, tastefully done. There are some sexual situations, but none are too explicit and the focus seems to be more on the emotional relationship, which is an approach I tend to like in a story. However, I would classify this book as horror, rather than romance.
The true focus of the plot is the doctor's mess of a job on Damien's brain and the creepy factory outside of town that subverts his boyfriend and later threatens his mom. People enter the factory, never to return. Those who land jobs there either disappear or leave their families to stay at the factory, and strange shipments arrive frequently. Besides that, the question is, what exactly does the factory do? The dodgy answers Damien gets from his boyfriend and later from a detective leave much to be discovered in later books in the series. Adding to the horror aspect of the story are the relationships. The author builds a highly admirable and likeable boyfriend, who the main character loves deeply, and then puts him in harm's way. He does the same with Damien's mother, building her up into someone the reader likes, and then showing her becoming a bit too enamored of an ironically named self-help book, "Feast, Stray, Love."
As for the vastly unqualified doctor in the story, I'm not certain the details or credentials surrounding him or his work on Damien are exactly believable, but his bedside manner is humorously atrocious, and his less than stellar operating skills are responsible for Damien's subtle transformation throughout the book. Again, is it believable? Not really, but it is entertaining. A good bit of the humor in the book stems from this crazy, irreverent doctor and the reactions of those around him.
Besides the romantic angle, the plot, and the crazy doctor, which I enjoyed and led me to like the story overall, there are a few things that kept me from loving it: one, grammatical issues, primarily the punctuation of the dialog; two, the frequent use of the F-word, not a surprise since it's also used in the book description; and three, various plot points for which I had to hit my "I believe" button. The dialog and other minor grammatical issues might detract from the story for those who find that sort of thing annoying, but could be fixed in a future edition. The F-word usage bugs me, but I think it fits into the story and the style of the writing, totally a personal preference type thing. The things that were vague could be due to the constraints of writing a short story, namely details are often cut to keep the story short. However, some of the details and situations presented are hard to imagine in a real setting, but are portrayed as being normal or realistic, which made some of the fictional aspects of the story less believable.
Overall, I liked Feast. It's a good, short book with a bit of humor and romance and a whole lot of mystery and creepiness factor, good for a horror story. The romantic relationship between Damien and his boyfriend isn't too explicit, focusing more on their relationship, but I would caution that it is aimed at mature readers. I'd recommend this story to those who like the horror genre, want a quick read, and either prefer or aren't bothered by books that feature a male-male romance.
I picked up a copy of this book from Amazon during a free promo day after the author requested a review.
- The Awful Tale of the Minnesota Diarrhea Ghost
on Oct. 20, 2013
Silly little story where grandpa tells his two grandsons all about the origins of the diarrhea ghost. I found it to be funny, and it left a smile on my face. Can you imagine? A ghost whose presence gives you diarrhea.
I bet the Ghost Hunters wouldn't want to take on that one.
Looks like it's perpetually free on Smashwords. Worth picking up for those who like an incredibly short, humorous read.
- Beyond The Fence
on Oct. 20, 2013
Mmm, gives me chills. This incredibly short offering is well-written and spooky. I found it for free on Smashwords. I can't really say much more or I'll spoil it.
I recommend this to folks who like a quick scare.
I added it to Goodreads, but couldn't get the cover pic to stick.
- The Kinshield Legacy
on Nov. 16, 2013
One of those books that make me want to read everything from the author.
Let me start by saying I picked this book up mostly because it was free and because I needed a book title with a K for the A-Z reading challenge I'm playing along with this year. That being said, I was surprised to be drawn in immediately.
The hero is Gavin Kinshield, a bounty hunter or lawman for hire, who finds himself drawn to solving the Kings Runes. This is not something he desires. Instead, the runes and their solutions haunt him constantly, annoying him until he has no cure but solving another one. All this you get in the first chapter or so. After that, Gavin's character gets even more interesting. At first glance he's nothing one would consider kingly material, but the author slowly reveals there is more to him in a way that draws you in.
Another interesting character is the main female lead, a warrior called Daia, who has an interesting ability, a noble past, and a conflicted present. She finds herself alternately disgusted and impressed by him, an interesting thing in itself, and the banter between Daia and Gavin is both natural and amusing. She is also a member of an elite group of women called the Viragon Sisterhood, which battles otherwordly creatures called beyonders and hire out as protectors. This brings in another aspect I enjoyed, the portrayal of women as strong and capable.
But their prowess and strength are not enough to protect them from the evil sorcerer who seeks the rune solver for his own nefarious purpose, and they are caught up in the ever more intricate web that threatens not only Gavin, but also the entire country, for Brodas Ravenkind as king would be worse than no king at all. As the evil villain, Brodas is both despicable and powerful, scary and charismatic. Certain chapters are told from his perspective, which reveals just how awful he truly is. I loved it!
Another thing I loved about this book was the history that is revealed as the story progresses. Gavin's personal history and the Kinshield legacy, for which the book is named, are fascinating and are built slowly to allow the reader a chance to guess at what more there may be. But it is not only Gavin with a noteworthy past, Daia, Brodas, a young warrior woman Brawna, and the Farthans, Artlet and Risen Stronghammer, have their own stories to tell, all of which lead to a satisfyingly rich cast of characters with believable motivations.
As for the quality of the book itself, Kinshield Legacy is smoothly told and well-edited. It's a well polished product that I feel confident recommending to others.
Overall, I loved this book and feel it is worth reading again. I highly recommend it to folks who love adventure, fantasy, and a complex (but not overwhelming) plot. The story is just the right size, the writing is solid, and the experience is worth repeating.
I want to read the next books in the series, though the print copies run a little high for my taste. Still, as stories I'll likely re-read, the investment in paper may be worth it. Plus, I want my husband to read them, and he's not fond of e-readers. I'll probably read them all in ebook before getting the print copies.
- Young Annabelle
on Nov. 30, 2013
I have to admit that I really liked this book.
The story follows Annabelle, a slightly (very slightly in my opinion) overweight young girl whose self-image is under constant attack by her mother's obsession over thinning her down for her senior year. Wearing only a size ten, her mother buys her cloths that are too small for her as incentive for her to lose weight, makes her wear a calorie tracking wristwatch, and makes her eat horribly unsatisfying foods in tiny quantities. Besides that, Annabelle's younger siblings are often brought in by their mother to gang up on Annabelle over her weight, making them disrespect their older sister and making Annabelle feel alone in a family who views her as less than worthy of their love and acceptance.
Already downtrodden, Annabelle finds herself in a thankless job selling lemonade at a country club. But that's when things get interesting. She meets a rather rude, but very hot boy named James who turns her life upside down. Her insecurities make her doubt everything he says, especially when he tells her she's beautiful, and she comes off pretty harsh at times. On the other hand, he's pretty self-absorbed and single minded, often coming off as a jerk.
Still, throughout the whole thing, I found myself rooting for Annabelle and James. His compliments and kinder moments seem to draw Annabelle out from the dark cloud her family has cast over her. As for Annabelle, she's a complex girl, and I totally get why she has so much trouble believing that James really likes her. I can't help but cringe when she lashes out at him, sometimes deserved, but not always.
Overall, I found Annabelle to be a relatable, insecure girl. Her rollercoaster of feelings, her struggle to please her parents, and her first encounters with a handsome boy who happens to like her are realistically portrayed if, at times, hard to take. I empathized with her and rooted for her, and even rooted for James, who had some good things going for him, too.
The story is well-layed out and well-written, though I did notice some errors sprinkled throughout, mostly words that sound like the right ones, but as spelled, don't mean what the author likely intended. The opening of the story starts at the end, not the end of this book, as I had expected, but likely the end of the series, or maybe even some way into the next book. The end leaves off at a cliffhanger kind of suddenly, and while it sets the stage for the next book, I would have liked some more resolution in this one.
Overall, I really liked Young Annabelle and would recommend it to fans of realistic, contemporary YA who enjoy reading about first loves, crazy parents, and troubled teens struggling to find themselves.
Although the author requested a review for this book earlier in the year, I found my copy on Smashwords during a free promotion.
- Finnegan's Quest
on Dec. 06, 2013
Full length novel, but reads like a fable. Beautiful language use. Well edited.
I love the easy and humorous way this story is told, while still communicating a deeper message.
Finnegan's Quest is like Animal Farm, but more entertaining. There's a mystery to solve and Finnegan and Crookshank are well on their way to solving it.
Young Finnegan, leaving home for the first time, believes his mother's lessons are just fine for a kit, but he's fully grown now and such things like "don't talk to strangers" and "pay attention" just won't cut it. Nope, he's in the market for a great teacher, a guru who can unlock the mysteries of life and the universe. Someone glorious and strong and impressive. Someone like Duh Fuz, the most fearsome beast of Squiggly Wood. But Spirit has someone else in mind for Finnegan's guru...
Crookshank is an old crow with a gimpy leg, compliments of a run in with Duh Fuz in her younger days, but you won't find her complaining. Though it's crooked, occassionally achy and not much good for walking, her leg is in tune with the vibrations of the universe. A useful gift that gives her insight into the world and her fellow critters. And sometimes, if she listens just right, she can tune right into the guiding voice of Spirit.
Finnegan and Crookshank as student and teacher are a great duo. Finnegan is naive and optimistic, but is beset on every side by those who would lead him to harm, to self-deprecation, to chain letters, and to get rich quick scams. He becomes the focal point of Squiggly Woods as critters from all walks of life work to convince him that their way is best, that their leader is all-knowing and that only by following can happiness be gained. But luckily for Finnegan, Crookshank is there for him. Her quick wit and timely interventions don't make Finnegan think like her, but they do help him learn to think for himself and recognize when things aren't what they seem to be.
The rest of the characters in this tale are equal parts cautionary and entertaining. The city rat who walks with a twitch because it's in. The whirly gigs who twirl until they are dizzy and moan "woe is me" at the results. Buford the bullfrog preacher. Duh Fuz, the terror of the wood. And Dame Squeeze, a ferret who has it all figured out. And I love how even the smallest of characters brings a valuable lesson.
I knew I loved this book only a few paragraphs in and though some of the lessons in it are tough or touch on serious issues like religious fanaticism, drug abuse, and predatory marketing, all were delivered in a whimsical and enriching way. The messages and warnings are there, but the storytelling is brilliant and lyrical.
As for the quality of the writing, it's excellent. The pacing, the flow, the plot: everything works. The story is obviously well-edited and well-planned. I found only one error in the whole thing, and I was looking for them. I've read best sellers with more than that.
Overall, I loved this book. It's one of those books that I know I'll return to many times, worth reading again and again because there will always be some new thing to discover with each retelling. I highly recommend this story to those who enjoy allegory, animal characters, humor, and enrichment.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest, non-reciprocal review.