Home / Book Review / Emotional & Powerful Fantasy | Book Review: Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

Emotional & Powerful Fantasy | Book Review: Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

Are you sure you can handle, Finnikin of the Rock? Not sure? Read on…

Book Review: Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

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finnikin of the rock melina marchetta book review

Title & Author: Finnikin of the Rock (The Lumatere Chronicles) by Melina Marchetta

Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary, New Adult

Release Date: September 29, 2008

Series: Lumatere Chronicles #1

Publisher: Viking Australia/Candlewick Press

How I Got the Book: From the Publisher


“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.”

This is Tricky…

Finnikin of the Rock is not a book one can speed through. It’s a story that demands your time and attention.

This is for a few reasons, but the biggest one is that it is dense. It’s not tough to read, per se, but it’s heavy with BIG ISSUES. Like exile from your community and land. Mass pillaging and rape and tons of death and violence. You know, the usual.

For that reason, this book was tough to get into initially. The first 75 pages were just sorting through the details of what happened and then deciding whether I liked all these crazy characters. But, once I got past that relatively brief challenge. Things. Got. CRAZY.

Crazy good, I mean. Once the action started, there was no stopping it. There’s escapes and betrayals and all sorts of surprises. After I hit this part, I was honestly relieved. I was so worried I wouldn’t like Finnikin of the Rock. And, that would have been sincerely tragic.

Let me take a brief moment and say: Evanjalin. Probably one of the most epic heroines in fantasy. Ever. Of all time. She is what every hardcore, fighter girl in fantasy books aspires to me.

After I was done being scared of her, I respected her. But, seriously, do not test her. She’ll cut a B.

And, Evanjalin wasn’t a token girl badass, there are other amazing strong female characters that carry burdens and provide strength.

Literally All of the Feels

Like I alluded to earlier, Finnikin of the Rock is not a book to read at the beach. Or anywhere people can see your face. Because the chances of you crying are very high.

This is a story filled with so much pain and heartbreak. It sounds like a miserable read, but I promise it isn’t. It certainly deals with bigger issues than most YA books, but it makes you ask questions and it exposes raw emotions. I loved what this book made me feel.

I did want to make one point about the writing style – sometimes the sequence of events was hard to follow.

It was like something would be said then someone would react, but I had missed it…even though I was reading all the words. It felt like little pieces were missing from the description, so it would take me a few times of reading to understand what I missed. It wasn’t a deal-breaker for me, but it certainly made it more difficult to keep a steady reading flow.

I have to admit that even though I thought Finnikin of the Rock was well-written with incredible characters, I didn’t connect with it in the same way I did with books like Graceling, Poison Study or Throne of Glass. I would definitely recommend this book to someone, but I would tell them all these caveats (“well are you in the mood for something long and a bit heavy?”).

I think you can read something and enjoy it without gushing about it and OMG’ing. It’s more of a “this was an insane journey I just took, and I’m not sure if I could do it again” type of read.

What do you think?


This is the type of book that will stay with you. The emotion and the power the book creates is palpable and strong. And also sad and tender. I think this is a book you have to be ready to read. You have to be in the right mind frame and know what to expect in some ways. Finnikin of the Rock was a high fantasy of epic proportions, and it tells a story that the fantasy world and literature in general needed.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.