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Finnegan MacCullen: a thirteen-year-old apprentice with the famous Irish temperament. Gideon Lir: a legendary Celtic warrior with a bit of a temper of his own.

Secretly, these blue-collar warriors battle the hobgoblins infesting their suburban neighborhood...when they are not battling each other.

Finn (not bleedin' Finnegan) MacCullen is eager to begin his apprenticeship. He soon discovers the ups and downs of hunting monsters in a suburban neighborhood under the demanding tutelage of the Knight, Gideon Lir. Both master and apprentice are descendents of the Tuatha De Danaan, a magical race of warriors from Ireland. Scattered long ago to the four corners of the world, the De Danaan wage a two thousand year old clandestine battle with their ancient enemy, the Amandán, a breed of goblin-like creatures.

Now with the beasts concentrating their attacks on Finn, he and his master must race to locate the lost Spear of the Tuatha De Danaan, the only weapon that can destroy the Amandán, all the while hiding his true identity from his new friends, Rafe and Savannah, twins whose South African roots may hold a key to Finn's survival.

Armed with a bronze dagger, some ancient Celtic magic, and a hair-trigger temper, Finn is about to show his enemies the true meaning of "fighting Irish."

200 pages, Paperback

First published March 12, 2013

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About the author

Darby Karchut

21 books254 followers
Darby Karchut is an award-winning author, former teacher, and compulsive dawn greeter. Her many books include DEL TORO MOON (middle grade fantasy series) and ON A GOOD HORSE (middle grade contemporary). She is the recipient of the Colorado Book Award, the High Plains Book Award, the Will Rogers Medallion Award, the Moonbeam Children’s Book Silver Award, and the IPPY Silver Award. A native of New Mexico, she now lives in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains where she runs in blizzards and bikes in lightning storms. When not dodging death by Colorado, Darby can be found wrangling words. Visit the author at www.darbykarchut.com and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Goodreads, and Owl Hollow Press.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 61 reviews
Profile Image for ~Tina~.
1,092 reviews159 followers
February 6, 2013
Thirteen year old Finnegan (Finn) MacCullen is a decedent to the Tuatha De Danaan, an ancient warrior race of mythical beings from Ireland who battle their sworn enemy the Amandan, Goblin like creatures who can disguise themselves among humans. It is an old Celtic war to the death for the solid price of returning to their home land, Ireland.
Finn begins his apprenticeship with the Knight, Gideon Lir and as he trains his young student they begin to wonder why they are attracted to so many Goblin attacks and soon believe that the beasts are looking for the lost Spear of the Tuatha De Danaan. It's a race to see who can find this fierce spear first, for it's the only weapon that can truly destroy the Amandan.
Finn never felt like he belonged before, but soon he will come to see what fate really has in store for the young lad after all.

Going into this book I never realized it was a middle-grade YA story, but it actually worked out better since I'm always looking for a new adventure for my son. I think he's going to enjoy Finn Finnegan and his Irish temper just as much as I did!

I had a lot of fun with this book. It has so many captivating qualities that made this standout for me.
For one thing, I adored the writing!! I could tell that not only did Darby Karchut have fun writing this world, but she put in a lot of heart and energy into making it imaginative and creative. The rich, deep Celtic tongue took a little bit to get use to, but once I got the voices straight in my mind, it added to the experiences in ways that I never expected.
The world itself is set in today's time, but there were times I was so caught up with the lore around these characters that I would forget.
I've read many different kinds of paranormal and supernatural beings in my reads, but I don't recall reading to much about Goblins, which made this even more exciting and intriguing. Darby did a fantastic job with this lore, really making it her own as well as coming up with a shinny new take on the Fey.
Add song, magic and a wicked temper to arm you in battle and you've got one helluva great read here.

I really loved all the characters. When we first meet Finn, he's an eager kid who stumbles with pure excitement. He wants to prove something to himself and others around him. He's not just some halfer, he's a true warrior and he wants to succeed. But his temper, stubbornness and constant disobedience seems to always get him in more trouble then it's worth. Still, Finn has a good heart, he's loyal, brave and is the kind of characters that readers will go the distance with.
Gideon is my favorite character. He's firm but fair, hard but gentle. This has such a lovely master/apprentice, teacher/student/ father/son friendship that I can't help admire. They way they look out for each other is extremely touching. I also love the easy wit, banter, sarcasm and the fondest between them.
I also liked what Rafe and Savannah brought into the story. It was interesting to see how the friendship plays out with Finn's secret.

There was some touches on racism in this one and how it effected Finn and his friends, but it was nicely dealt with. The only part that I didn't care for were the overly curious neighbors and the measures in which they took in the very end. The added conflict felt unnecessary and annoying to the story line, especially when the reader already establishes Gideon to be good people.

All in all, I had a lot of fun with this book. The writing is outstanding and funny. The plot is exciting and unique, the mythology is fascinating, the ending is unpredictable and has a great great twist and finally these characters are so well written and easy to connect with from the very first page, on.
I'm definitely looking forward to the sequel. I can't wait to see where Darby Karchut takes Finn and Gideon next!

An Excellent adventure fit for all ages!

(Arc provided by Spencer Hill Press in exchange for an honest review)

This review and more can be seen at WinterHaven Books;

winter haven books
Profile Image for Kate Kaynak.
Author 12 books221 followers
February 16, 2012
This book is all kinds of amazing! It reminded me of a cross between Harry Potter and the Spiderwick Chronicles when we received it at Spencer Hill Press. Add this to your TBR list--you won't regret it!
Profile Image for Brooke's Epic Emporium.
880 reviews189 followers
December 24, 2014
I want to thank Spencer Hill Press for providing me a copy of this book to read and give an honest review. Receiving this book for free has in no way influenced my opinion or review.

Blurb from Goodreads:
Finn (not bleedin' Finnegan) MacCullen is eager to begin his apprenticeship. He soon discovers the ups and downs of hunting monsters in a suburban neighborhood under the demanding tutelage of the Knight, Gideon Lir. Both master and apprentice are descendents of the Tuatha De Danaan, a magical race of warriors from Ireland. Scattered long ago to the four corners of the world, the De Danaan wage a two thousand year old clandestine battle with their ancient enemy, the Amandán, a breed of goblin-like creatures.
Now with the beasts concentrating their attacks on Finn, he and his master must race to locate the lost Spear of the Tuatha De Danaan, the only weapon that can destroy the Amandán, all the while hiding his true identity from his new friends, Rafe and Savannah, twins whose South African roots may hold a key to Finn's survival. Armed with a bronze dagger, some ancient Celtic magic, and a hair-trigger temper, Finn is about to show his enemies the true meaning of "fighting Irish."

The first thing that drew me to this book is the cover. I love the green color. And the title font is totally awesome. The cover really conveys that this book is about something Irish and some kind of “warrior”. Immediately, I knew I was going to be intrigued by the story. The cover, combined with the blurb had me really chomping at the bit to get my ARC! And when it came in the mail, I jumped right in.

Finn MacCullen’s character is really great. Karchut portrayed a young boy coming into himself so well. He’s determined and stubborn. He wants to be independent but is constantly learning in order to do that he must listen and learn from his mentor. And Finn is a modern boy who is enveloped in a world of lore and fantasy. In a world we only dream about with monsters and magic.
Gideon Lir is such a great father figure for Finn. He’s tough, but certainly has that gentle lovingness underneath that a 13 year old boy needs in his life. He teaches Finn great lessons, but tries to protect him at the same time. It’s nice to watch his character unfold from a man who shields himself behind a wall to hide his feelings into a man who truly cares for the boy in his keep. And he is a master at teaching Finn lessons through demonstration rather than pure explanation. I could really hear Gideon’s lyrical Irish voice in my head as I read the book, which I loved.
The secondary characters were great as support. Working in another warrior and keep was a great balance and certainly helped Finn learn a lesson of true life. And having Finn welcome human friends into his life was also surprising but really showed that this boy turned warrior really was just the 13 year old boy he needed to be.
The characters are realistic and relatable. I can surely see another 13 year old child understanding everything Finn is going through during this story.

The story certainly had me guessing. I wasn’t sure where it was going or where it would end up. I love how Karchut mixes our modern world with the world of the supernatural. The use of the ravens to signify trouble is particularly interesting seeing as this bird has typically been used to signify a bad omen or the coming of war. It was a great choice as Finn and Gideon face a war on their people. It was great to watch Finn grow and learn; to come into himself and see that he is truly a Tuatha De Danaan.

I loved Karchut’s writing. It flowed well and was easy to read. I’m glad she put a key at the beginning for the pronunciation of the Irish words. For sure, I would never have pronounced those words the way they are supposed to be said. And the way the book was written you could put it down after a chapter if you needed to, which is often the case with me as I have three kids to care for!

I really haven’t had the chance to read much middle grade as of late. But I do enjoy them when I’m able to put them on my TBR. This is one not to be missed. If you have a child who reads middle grade adventure, this is surely for them. Job well done Darby for a book that is not only interesting but teaches life lessons while pulling you along through a great story. I can’t wait to read the next adventure Finn and his crew embark on!
4 out of 5 stars.
Profile Image for Hazel West.
Author 25 books129 followers
June 22, 2013
Thoughts on the Overall Book: I was a little wary starting this because I thought it was going to be pretty much like an Irish version of Ranger's Apprentice, and wouldn't be all that original. However, this book really surprised me in a good way. It was not only an original storyline (sure there are similarities between it and Ranger's Apprentice, but not so much it seemed like just a spin-off) but it also had some really awesome characters. But then, you can pretty much give me anything having to do with Celtic legend and I'm happy.

Cover--Yea or Nay: Not the worst character impression cover ever, but I think something more abstract would have worked better. Like maybe one of their knives over top of Celtic knot-work or something.

Characters: Finn was a good protagonist. Yes, he was snarky on occasion (he's a 13 year old boy!) but he was never so annoying that I couldn't become attached to him, which I did. He genuinely wants to become a Knight of the Tuatha De Dannan and he also wants to earn Gideon's respect. Whenever he does something really stupid, it's for the right reasons at least. I also loved Gideon. Yeah, he's pretty much our typical sarcastic, gruff mentor, but there was also something about him that was original as well. I don't know if I can pin point it, but it's there. I love sarcastic characters like Gideon, and I loved the master-apprentice/father-son relationship between him and Finn. I also liked all the supporting characters. Rafe was awesome and I hope to see more of him and Savannah in later books. I also loved Mac Roth. He's your typical big Celtic warrior. While I had a lot of the same opinions about Asher as Finn did as first (snotty) I also saw through him. And it's undeniable that his role in the story is an important one as well.

The Romance: None!

Writing Style: It's not particularly special or beautiful, but it's definitely not bad. The dialogue flows well, and is usually pretty funny and wonderfully sarcastic, and the description is easy to picture. The action scenes were easy to follow as well, which is always good. I loved the idea of modern Irish warriors. I've become more and more in love with Urban Fantasy that deals with folklore and legend, so I'm excited to see more Irish thrown into the mix as that's pretty much my ultimate favorite of all time. I'll admit I don't know as much about the Tuatha De Dannan as Na Fiana but I do know the legends of Fionn mac Cumhail and I like how there's a little of that thrown in. And while the Amandan weren't the scariest bad beasties ever, they were certainly frightening enough to make the fight between them and the De Dannan convincing.

Problems/What bothered me: I didn't have any specific problems with the story. I kind of felt it could have been longer and I was kind of hoping we would get to find out what happened to Gideon's last apprentice in this one. On a technical side, there were some typos but it wasn't anything terrible.

Conclusion: 4 stars. I look forward to continuing this series. In fact, I am much awaiting the second book. This one definitely left me wanting more of Finn and Gideon and I'm kind of sad this book was so short.

Recommended Audience: Ranger's Apprentice fans would definitely enjoy this series, as would Percy Jackson fans as well. A great guy read, 13 and up. (Just a content note: there was some language that I personally don't feel in appropriate for kids under 13, but that's the parent's call)
Profile Image for Tom.
325 reviews30 followers
October 16, 2014
When Finn (don't call me Finnegan) MacCullen arrived at Knight Gideon Lir's house to begin his apprenticeship, he had no idea what he'd be in for.

The same goes for readers just starting The Adventures of Finn MacCullen series.

Book One is titled "Finn Finnegan," and it is a high-octane mix of action, teenaged angst, and giant goblinesque creatures called Amandan. It is the Amandan that have him beginning his apprenticeship with Gideon in the first place. Finn is half-human, and half-Tuatha De Danaan, an ancient race who have battled the Amandan for untold centuries.

Finn isn't sure what to expect from his apprenticeship, but he soon finds out what it includes: washing dishes, cleaning, doing chores, etc. Soon enough, though, he's training in skills that could--and ultimately do--save his life.

Add in a jerk of a rival apprentice, some cool 100% mortal friends, as well as a ton of action, and you have an awesome ride.

What amazes me so much about Darby Karchut's writing is that it moves seamlessly from one scene to another. In this and her "Griffin" series, there are no bone-jarring segues, which I think makes it easier for tweens and up to read. There are no wasted scenes, no filler. Everything is included for a reason, though that reason isn't always clear at the time.

For example, I had one mystery in "Finn Finnegan" figured out about halfway through the book.

Until Ms. Karchut revealed just how wrong I was. It was like a hitter swinging in vain at a perfect curveball.

"Finn Finnegan" is full of action, too. There's enough banter to establish the character's world and mythology, but no overkill. Once things get started, they are started.

Another thing I liked about this book is that Finn doesn't start out as a typical thirteen-year-old, undergo training and a few adventures, then emerge as a pinnacle of wisdom. Even though he shows amazing courage when he has to, he's still just a kid all the way through, a kid who needs a hug now and then.

Darby Karchut spent years teaching middle-schoolers. You can tell that she learned a lot from them, but more importantly, that she loves them.

Finn isn't a perfect kid, but who among us was (or is)? At day's end, kids--perfect or imperfect--will adore "Finn Finnegan."

(nb: I received a review copy of this novel from the publisher)
Profile Image for Lydia.
449 reviews53 followers
February 16, 2015
I loved this! I can't possibly describe how giddy reading this book made me feel, but I'll still give t a try!

Finnegan - though, really, call him Finn! - MacCullen can't wait to start his apprenticeship with Knight Gideon Lir. Being a halfer - which means part mortal - has always been a burden in his life. Now he wants to prove that he's as much a Tuatha De Dannan as any other pure blooded warrior in his family. However, being an apprentice will prove harder than he thought, with his temper - a legendary Irish trait - clashing almost always with his master's equally quick one. And with the goblins, their natural enemies, being bolder lately, it's gonna take a lot of patience and work from both males to survive and be victorious.

I love Celtic myths. I feel like I've said it already so many times, but it's the damn truth! And when you dangle a story with them in it, and action and humor and the Irish accent - good God, yes, please! - in front of me, there's no doubt about it, I am biting the bait - and being happy as heck about it, too!

Even so, some positive traits cannot keep me interested, unless the book itself is good. And oh, it was more than just good! It was funny to the point of hilarious. Thrilling to the point of shivers. Its pace was perfectly timed, never too slow, but never too quick. It kept me in constant success, mainly because both Finn and Gideon were really unpredictable characters. And it gave me a hell of a time, watching those two fight each other as fervently as they fought the Amandán.

There's not much more to say except this: I love Finn! I love Gideon! I love their story, and I want to read more about them. And there's nothing stopping me from adding not only the sequel in my TR list, but the author in my top list as well!

Thank you, Mrs. Karchut!

***I was given an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinion stated in this review is solely mine, and no compensation was given or taken to alter it.***

Read this and other reviews at: http://cupcakesandpopcorn.wordpress.com/
Profile Image for Leigh Collazo.
665 reviews220 followers
January 20, 2013

More reviews at Mrs. ReaderPants.

SUMMARY: 13-year old Finnegan MacCullen works as an apprentice to Gideon Lir, a Celtic warrior who secretly battles the Amandan, goblin-like creatures living among humans in the Colorado suburbs.

ROMANTIC HEAT: Pretty chilly. There is no romance or kissing. A couple of hints at potential romances are misunderstood by the young characters and never acted upon.

REVIEW: Though I am definitely not the target audience for Finn Finnegan (alas, it has no romance), I know that my middle school students--particularly the boys--will eat this book up. Finn has plenty of action, fighting, and mythical beasties, all of which will appeal to the massive Lightning Thief crowd. I laughed out loud often when Finnegan and Gideon butt heads. I love the inclusion of Gideon's and Finn's journal entries, which comically demonstrate how alike master and apprentice really are. I often read excerpts aloud during book talks, and the journal entries would make some excellent read-alouds.

THE BOTTOM LINE: If you prefer books with at least some romance, this may not be your book. But if you want lots of fight scenes, physical training, legendary beasties, and well-placed humor, I wholeheartedly recommend Finn Finnegan.

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: I will absolutely be getting this book! It will be an easy "sell" in book talks and would make a fun addition to booktalks circa St. Patrick's Day. I may even invest in 2-3 copies.

READALIKES: The Lightning Thief (Riordan); The Magnificent 12 series (Grant), Janitors (Whitesides)


Overall: 4/5
Creativity: 4/5
Characters: 5/5
Engrossing: 3/5
Writing: 4/5
Appeal to teens: 5/5
Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5


Language: mild; a few a**
Sexuality: none
Violence: mild-medium; lots of sword- and knife-fighting scenes with monsters
Drugs/Alcohol: none
Profile Image for Deb.
555 reviews32 followers
December 13, 2013
First, I cannot thank the author, Darby Karchut enough for sending me this book. I had won, through Goodreads, book II, GIDEON'S SPEAR. Due to a delay, she sent me book I, FINN FINNEGAN. this book is a MUST READ!!! I use to work in a major book store & I would tell kids to read 10 pages. If you aren't into the book by then, pick something else. This book had me by page 1. It's roots are from Irish lore. This is a plus because there aren't books involving Ireland, at least that I can think of. Finn is a typical teenager in thoughts & behavior. Yet he is only half human. He is about to be introduced to a world of battling goblins. This book is full of battles, mystery, friendship, disappointments & finding yourself. Can't wait to get the second book! I will be reading ALL of Darby's books.
Profile Image for Keshia Swaim.
Author 6 books64 followers
January 4, 2013
A great blend of Irish lore and modern 13 year-old boy. The characters were fun, and the plot kept me guessing, with promise of more intrigue from future books!
Profile Image for Robert Kent.
Author 10 books33 followers
March 23, 2013
First Paragraph: "Son of a goat!" The boy swore and jumped back. A second squirt of bird poop landed with a plop, this time on the toe of his shoe. "Oh, real funny," he said with a grimace. He glared up at the crow swinging back and forth on the power line overhead, sooty wings spread wide for balance. The bird cocked its head and stared back, its eye a red-rimmed marble.

Esteemed Reader, the only name I can think of more Irish than Darby Karchut has got to be Finn Finnegan. The cover of this week's book is green, just in case there might be any doubt in the reader's mind this will be an Irish-themed story. I guess the publisher wouldn't spring for the sound module ensuring each time a reader opens the book it plays Danny Boy:)

"Finn Finnegan is a Fine Folio of Fantastic Fiction!" There's my blurb should the good people at Spencer Hill Press desire to slap it on Finn's cover next to the blurb from the author of Ashfall and Ashen Winter. That's right. Those white words across the forehead of the hunky pale kid whose piercing blue eyes are meant to attract female readers (and I have no doubt they will) belong to none other than our favorite cannibal, Mike Mullin.

The publishing world is a small place and we writers are all six degrees of Kevin Bacon from someone else. That's worth remembering when you want to make fun of a book for having a green cover to signify Irish-ness:) I've looked the cover over multiple times for a shamrock and haven't found one, but I'm betting there's one hidden somewhere like an Irish Waldo.

Finn (not bleedin Finnegan) MacCullen is a thirteen-year-old apprentice with the famous Irish temperament (no idea what that means). But he's the lad to follow for a series of adventures. Girls want him and boys want to be him. He's joining forces with Gideon Lir, a Knight and warrior whose a bit of Hagrid mixed with a bit of Dumbledore.

Gideon Lir is the one to break the news to Finn that like a fair number of non-magic folks in Ireland, he's been born into a holy war with a race of goblin-like creatures called the Amandan:

"Since the beginning of time, the non-human beings of Ireland, the Tuatha Da Dananan and the Amandan, have battled for control of our beloved land. For both have a claim to it, as our ancestral home. In fact, the Amandan believe they first emerged from the peat bogs of Eire--the Bog-born. In a sense, they and the land are one."
"What about us?"
"Why, we are descendants of Danu, one of the Celtic goddesses of war. Hence our flair for battle. She bestowed upon us the Emerald Isle as our own as long as we could hold it from the Amandan, and our struggle with the beasties would have been contained to Ireland if it wasn't for the invaders.

The Amandan are shape-shifting nasties who regularly attack Finn when the story's dragging a bit:) There's plenty of action throughout and the reader will leave this first story eager for book 2 (teased at the end). Book 1 does a nice job of setting up the world of Finn and preparing us for what promises to be be an exciting series. As such, Karchut hints at several future plot lines and lays down the rules for her fantasy:

The Knight nodded. "Whatever kills a mortal can kill us. Except our powers and our training make us just a wee bit more difficult to destroy. Always remember this, Finn." He tapped his torc for emphasis. "In spite of being part human, ye come from an ancient line of warriors."

Finn Finnegan is a great read and you're going to have a good time, largely because Darby Karchut is genuinely funny. Finn and Gideon Lir banter like the best comedy teams and their journal entries are particularly fun. Karchut hints at some possibly darker territory ahead in the books to come, but Finn Finnegan is at it's best during its many action scenes and jokes.

This made me laugh:

"I dinna write the rules. It clearly states in the 'How to Train Yer Apprentice' manual that the apprentice does the laundry."
"Can I see this manual? When we get back?"
"I seem to recall that I've misplaced me copy."
"So, how do I know you're not just making all this sh--crap up?"

Something that struck me curious was Karchut's casual swearing throughout the text. Finn Finnegan is written much like a MG novel with YA elements, making it the quintessential tween adventure. Time will tell which direction the sequels take the story, but Karchut slips in more than one "ass" and "arse," yet falls short of a sh@* (as do I, apparently).

I don't really have a point here, except it's odd how some language is just fine for a tween novel and some isn't. For instance, if I had written poop, no one would care, excrement, no one would've noticed, but if I write the other word, it's vulgar. It's a wacky world of social norms and I have no doubt Karchut is bucking them to endear younger readers to her. If a teacher reads this book to her class and has to read the word "ass," those students will request more of that author's book be read:)

In conclusion, Finn Finnegan is a good time read and you're going to enjoy yourself. This St. Patrick's Day, don't just get pass-out drunk. Read Finn Finnegan while-st you drink, then pass out (this blurb also available). As always, I'll leave you with my favorite passages from Finn Finnegan:

Grief poked a claw into Gideon's heart.

Her features began twisting and shifting with a moist popping sound. (I love all passages featuring the word "moist" -- MGN)

Finn nodded politely. Read Shakespeare--yeah, like that's ever going to happen.

He round himself tumbling back down the slope, his arms flailing as he tried to control his fall. Branches clawed at him, leaving burning scratches along his back and stomach where his tee shirt pulled up. The ground and sky exchanged places in slow motion.

Finn's voice cracked as he let out a yell and charged.
And tripped over a half-buried log in the sand.
He slammed face-first into the ground, sand abrading his cheek. The air whooshed out of him. He laid there, mouth opening and shutting like a stranded fish.
Profile Image for RoloPoloBookBlog.
1,102 reviews30 followers
February 6, 2013
Finn Finnegan by Darby Karchut
(Book1 of The Adventures of Finn MacCullen)
Rating: 4½/5 stars
Source: Author for a fair and honest review

Someday I am going to write a totally professional, eloquently crafted, non-gushy review. Today is not that day so pull on your rain boots ‘cause I am about to gush all over the place about the beginning of a promising new series by one of my hands-down favorite authors, Darby Karchut. Let the gushing begin . . .

Finn (not bleedin Finnegan!) MacCullen is a bit lost: both of his parents are dead; he is generally overlooked or just ignored in his aunt and uncle’s home; he is often teased for being a half-breed and; he is due to begin his apprenticeship to become a Knight of the Tuatha De Daanaan if he can just find the home of his new master. See? Lost.

Because of his very nature, it doesn’t take Finn long to find the home of his master, Gideon Lir, a hulk of a man with a fabulous Irish accent, a wretched training schedule, and a heart of pure gold! Gideon makes it clear to Finn from the beginning, their mission is deadly serious and the training to become a Knight of the Tuatha De Danaan is rigorous, intense, and absolutely necessary. For Finn, this knowledge and Gideon’s house feels like home. When not training, Gideon helps Finn understand the long and fascinating history of the Tuatha, their relationship to Ireland and why the Knights are still needed in this most modern period. Finn soaks it all up like a skinny sponge and while he often complains (loudly!) about the rigors of training he still completes his tasks (mostly) and works hard (most of the time) to become a help rather than a hindrance in battle. You see, the Knights are charged with exterminating the Amandán, a super-stinky race of creatures who want possession of Ireland just as badly as the Knights do. The Amandán are fearless, mouthy, hard to disable and even harder to kill. As the plot unfolds we find out just how truly smelly and hard to kill the Amandán really are as Finn and Gideon fight side-by-side to destroy their enemy. During the fight scenes we see what Finn is made of: he is a fierce fighter with a loyal heart and some stunning anger management issues. Though he has a lot still to learn about the fine art of fighting, Finn never gives up and does everything within his power to protect Gideon.

As with all of Darby K.’s books, Finn Finnegan is driven by its fully developed and highly realistic characters. Despite being members of an ancient, noble, and mythic race, Finn and Gideon are still very much a part of the human world making them relatable to the reader. Finn and Gideon are joined by a cast of minor characters including Mac Roth, a mighty beast of a Knight who is one of Gideon’s oldest and dearest friends and the twins Rafe and Savannah Steel who live across the street from Finn and Gideon. While Gideon warns Finn it is unwise and generally forbidden for a Tuatha to mingle with mortals, Finn is drawn to the twins and often disobeys Gideon’s orders to stay away from the Steel kids. Rafe and Savannah are delightful characters who are easy to like, much to Gideon’s great displeasure.  These characters are some of the most realistic I have encountered in the world of fiction. Karchut writes such excellent descriptions, dialogue, and interactions that her characters no longer feel like creations of the imagination on a page but real people, friends even. Even if the plot sucked (which it totally does not) I would come back to this series again and again to check in on the lives of these people!

The Bottom Line: Finn Finnegan is fresh new read dealing with Celtic myth and legend, a subject often sadly ignored in popular fiction. The short-term plot is wrapped up nicely by novels’ end but we are left with a ton of unanswered questions. For example: Why does Rufus Steel (the twins’ dad) behave in such a shady manner? What’s up with the Steel twins? Although I am not sure even they realize the full extent of it, the twins know more about Finn’s world than they are letting on. What secrets from his past is Gideon hiding? Who is Iona and why does Gideon not trust her? Perhaps most importantly, is Finn really the weapon of legend that can bring an end to the Amandán?
While this book is marketed for a middle-grade audience I find this designation both limiting and ridiculous. Finn Finnegan is a fine story with excellent characters and fascinating subject matter that can and will appeal to an audience far and wide from nearly every age group. Stop thinking about it and buy this book now!!
Profile Image for Kayleigh {K-Books}.
1,016 reviews10 followers
April 21, 2014
Finn Finnegan Review on K-Books

Wow! I really don't even know where to start with this review. This book was so awesome and I really didn't expect to like it quite as much as I did. After finding out this book was Middle Grade my instant reaction was 'Oh'. I just don't 'do' MG books but I thought I will give it a go anyway just because it is Spencer Hill Press and I just love all of their books. I was so pleasantly surprised by Finn Finnegan... it completely took my pre-conceived thoughts about Middle Grade books and completely threw my expectation out of the window and blew me away. I am sad to say that I am one who before reading this book went Middle Grade? No thanks I will pass and never give the book a second thought. Darby has completely changed my mind about Middle Grade books and I will never be one to pass on a book just because of it being MG ever again.

Finn is dying to start his apprenticeship. Growing up with a family that never cares or notices him isn't the best so he can't wait to go start his apprenticeship and find out how to use his powers. Finn is a descendent from an ancient celtic race of warriors from Ireland. Paired with his 'Master' Sir Gideon, Finn find that his apprenticeship is much harder than he first expected. He must learn manners and how to act as well as how to use his powers... but danger is brewing for Finn and Gideon... can they both come out of it? Things for Finn will never be the same.

I genuinelly loved this book. I sat down with the intention of reading just a few chapters and the next thing I knew I was finished with the book. Having not read any Middle Grade nor anything by Darby Karchut before I was very impressed. I was completely drawn into this addictive story and I loved every single second of it. Darby is a fantastic author and her writing style is just so amazing. It's such a laid back and easy read and you just find yourself completely sucked in and unable to stop reading. This book will give you 'Just One More Chapter Syndrome' and let's face it those are the best kinds of books.

Finn is such a great character. I was worried about how much I would connect with the character with him being younger than the characters in the books that I usually read but I really needn't have worried at all. I instantly loved him. I love his carefree nature and his talking back to Gideon. Finn really grows a lot as a character throughout the book and goes from this carefree young boy who just wants to have fun to learning the lessons and the danger of training to be a Tuatha De Danaan warrior. I just loved seeing his adventures and his journey throughout this book and I really couldn't put the book down and I was dying to see what would happen to Finn.

I really fell head-over-heels in love with this book. It's such a great story and I will be counting down until the second book will come out to see what happens next. I genuinelly loved it and Darby totally proved me wrong about MG books. I never wanted to read a MG book and never thought I would enjoy them but I really loved this one. It's true that I won't go out of my way to look up MG books to read but if I come across one that sounds good I won't instantly go 'Oh It's Middle Grade... I Don't Think So' I will pick it up and give it a go and that is a massive improvement from what I was like before reading this book.

Finn Finnegan is such a great fantasy adventure that reminds me of Harry Potter... but it is way better written! It has Fae, Goblins and magic... everything you could ever want. If you are looking for a fun light read that will have you giggling into your book and have your heart pounding fast not able to wait to see what is going to happen next this is the book for you. It is brilliant and definitely worth a read!
Profile Image for Kit.
176 reviews43 followers
January 4, 2013
I could keep this short and sweet and call it a day with one sentence. I could just say Darby writes another winner and leave the rest of you to ponder why this book is a winner. I won't do that, but I will try to keep it concise. This is another fabulous book by Darby Karchut, again set in Colorado and revolving around a young boy who is just beginning to find out who he is and what he can be. (side note- you've all read The Griffin books right? If not, get on that.)

****Warning: Spoilers Ahead****

The book starts with Finn arriving at Gideon's house somewhat unexpectedly, ready to start his training as a knight early. Finn and Gideon are both hot headed and they really do make a perfect pair. Gideon's attempts to quell Finn's rage while barely containing his own is something that I'm fairly certain every parent (and teacher) can probably relate to. As a young member of the Tuatha De Danaan Finn is being trained to fend off and hopefully destroy a race of goblins bent on destroying them. It's an epic battle that has raged for centuries and spread out across the entire world. It's ramping up and Finn finds himself right in the epicenter.

Besides all the action and golblin killing Darby does what Darby does best. She writes the best relationships. Finn and Gideon have a complex relationship- they are something between teacher and student, and father and son with Gideon really wanting Finn to succeed and Finn wanting nothing more then for Gideon to be proud of him. My favorite relationships though are those with Finn's new friends Rafe and Savannah. There isn't a ton of development, but there is enough there that hints at what might be coming in books two that you really, really get invested in their friendship. Especially when you discover that they might hold the key to keeping Finn (and everyone else) alive. Even their parents are built into the story perfectly. They are wary or their kids new friend and his guardian, they give their kids some leeway, but are ready to ask questions at a moments notice when they feel something is out of sorts. We know what goes on behind closed doors at Finn's house, but they don't, and their concern, while it might be in error, is well intentioned. Frankly if they weren't asking questions they'd be horrible parents. They might cause some trouble for Finn, but at the same time they are looking out for not only their own kids, but for a kid they think might be in trouble.

The big shocker for me in this book was that Karchut killed someone off. One of the good guys no less. I've been so used to the good guys getting beaten and bloody and bruised, but I anticipated that they would all pull through. I was wrong. I won't tell you who it was, but it surprised me, made me sad and then when I thought about it I realized that this person had to go in order to really move the story forward.

I can't wait to see where this story goes next. Will we stay in Colorado or will we get to make a trek to South Africa to see how they deal with the Amandán there?
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Beverly McClure.
Author 17 books453 followers
January 21, 2013
Fáilte. Welcome to a world of knights and magic, goblins and apprentices. A world where crows signal danger and warriors search for a lost Spear needed to save the Tuatha De Danaan (mythical Irish warriors) from the mythical Amandán creatures. Did you know all this adventure is going on in our very own world? Yes, it is. Beware of the people next door. They may not be exactly who you think they are.

In Award Winning Author Darby Karchut’s latest novel for teens, FINN FINNEGAN, thirteen-year-old half human, half De Danaan, Finnegan MacCullen (call him Finn please) is beginning his apprenticeship with Knight Gideon Lir, of the Tuatha De Danaan, who have fought with the Amandáns for thousands of years. Told in alternating points of view between Finn and Gideon, along with journal entries, the author gives us a great glimpse into the minds of both mentor and apprentice as they face the Amandán that are growing in strength and boldness.

After following Griffin and his adventures in Darby Karchut’s Griffin Series (still one book to go), I knew I had to meet the characters in her new series, FINN FINNEGAN. Finn is everything I expected him to be. “Cheeky” (Gideon’s words) and hot-tempered, also sympathetic and loveable. In other words, a teen boy, um, with magical powers. Beautiful imagery places the reader in each scene. For instance, “…the sun spilled over the rim of the earth.” Wow! Puts you right there, doesn’t it? Through Finn’s eyes, I witnessed the new day. I chanted the Song along with Finn while he held his late father’s moonstone meant to reveal the Amandáns’ true form.

Based on Celtic mythology, FINN FINNEGAN is the story of a boy in search of courage and the truth about himself. You’ll laugh with Finn. You’ll cry with Finn. You’ll feel his frustration when he makes mistakes. You’ll see Gideon’s love for his apprentice. FINN FINNIGAN is also a story about good and evil, family and friends, and how far one will go to protect those they love. The author includes a glossary of words and phrases. (See my greeting in the first paragraph.) Author Notes gives additional information about the sources behind the characters, songs, and places. There’s even a sneak peek of Book Two GIDEON’S SPEAR. Darby Karchut’s tween novel would make a great addition to school history classes and libraries, as well as your personal library. Highly recommended for lovers of fantasy and for readers who enjoy a good book with delightful characters so human they might be your neighbors. Except for their special abilities, that is. But you never know. The author has another winner with Finn.

Profile Image for Kendra Saunders.
Author 13 books112 followers
December 16, 2012
Where can I start with this book? Maybe I should start by saying I don't have a lot of time to read these days. Between being an author and working for a publishing company, my reading window has shrunk to embarrassing proportions. With Finn Finnegan, I picked it up with the intent of reading a chapter or so. By that evening, I'd finished the book. The characters were richly realized and fun, the humor was great, the setting was different than I'd expected (Colorado? Really? A place for magic battles?) and the mythology was detailed and fascinating. Sometimes I find myself nodding off a bit in the "mythology explanation" parts of books, but this one truly had me attached to the pages and interested to hear more (no kidding, I contacted the author after and asked if we could talk more about her fae mythology).

The relationships, too, are realistic and complex. Friendships, father/son and master/apprentice relationships are all played out here in a manner that is understandable both to the kids who are actually Finn's age ("aww man, do I REALLY have to do this?") and to the grown ups who have had to deal with kids Finn's age. We've all been there.

One thing I particularly loved about the book was how realistic day to day life was portrayed. These people have to deal with plain old nosy neighbors, well meaning but nosy neighbors, money troubles, chores, cuts and bruises, racism, disobedience and trust.

Rarely have I read a book, for any ages, that tackled racism in such a straightforward but gentle manner.

If you have a son or daughter that enjoys adventure stories, I suggest you pick this book up for them. Teenagers of all ages can find something fun in this story. But you know what? Adults can enjoy this book too. There's plenty of great humor and great characters for us grown ups. Gideon will delight and charm you, believe me.

I can't always suggest a book to other people, but this one I wholeheartedly suggest. When this book comes out in March, pick up a copy for your reluctant readers, your fans of the Percy Jackson or Ranger's Apprentice series. Pick this book up for yourself. It's a delight to read and has some truly moving moments that will stick with you long after.

This is probably the longest review I've ever written of a book, and then some, but that's how much I loved it.
Profile Image for Beverly.
529 reviews33 followers
January 13, 2013
FTC Disclosure: I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

This is a hard review for me to write, simply because I don’t know where to begin and I really don’t want to gush, but there are so many reasons I love this book. I’ll be honest, I’m always anxious when I receive an ARC directly from the author. I pride myself on giving honest reviews, but I do know that when an author sends me a book they are sending me a part of themselves.

I had nothing to worry about this time around. There were several reasons I would have chosen to read this book even if the author had not sent me a copy. Even though it takes place in Colorado it has a delightful Irish/Celtic flavor. I love all things Celtic. The Colorado setting is another plus. As a transplanted Texan living in Colorado, I love stories set in Colorado.

What really makes the story a keeper (one I’ll put on my personal shelves, as well as recommend to my readers) is Karchut’s writing. She’s weaves an engaging tale with well developed, likable characters. I love Finn. He’s a great kid – not perfect, but he has lots of potential. I would like to know more about his backstory – about his parents and just how he ended up an orphan. It’s always a good sign when you want to learn more about a character.

And I think I might have a crush on Gideon. (She says with a fierce blush.) It’s probably his accent, but he’s a good strong role model, too. Just like Finn, I want to know about his backstory. Seriously, what is his deal with Iona? (Want to know who Iona is – read the book!)

I tend to pride myself on “figuring out twists” before the author reveals them, but I’m also pleased when an author stumps me. Karchut does just that in this story. There is a search for an important item. (I don’t want to give spoilers, so if you are intrigued by what this important item could be – read the book!) I was convinced I’d figured out the location, but Karchut got me! And I really liked her solution better than mine.

The blend of adventure, Celtic lore, and modern times make this an engaging choice for young and adult readers as well. The ending will leave readers wanting more. I can’t wait for the next installment.
Profile Image for Savannah (Books With Bite).
1,399 reviews185 followers
February 11, 2013
Putting all the right elements into a fantastic story, I really enjoyed this book.

What I really like the most are the elements of a redeeming character as well as fantasy The reader meets this you lad, who is well...different. He has been sent away for his training and his "family" are just waiting for him to fail. All his life he has been told that he will amount to nothing, but I know that this kid will prove them wrong. I like Finn determination. Though he has been treated horribly, he is striving to do his best. He still has lots of fears and anger to over come. Finn has a great mentor who is helping him break all the bad habits that he has.

The love interest is not quite developed just yet but a wonderful friendship has. Finn has made some new friends and I know that these two will help him in any way that they can. They give him courage and don't treat like an outsider but as an equal. I'm interested in seeing where the love interest will go with Savannah. (Yes, I love that she has my name!) Finn finds himself at odds between his loyalty to his apprenticeship as well as finding who he is. After all, he is still just a teen and is still learning.

Finn Finnegan is a great start to an awesome series. I feel that this book carries everything you need in a story to be satisfied. My only gripe is that it is short. I wanted more story, but I'm willing to overlook it. Redeeming and wonderful, Finn Finnegan is great!
Profile Image for Margaret Boling.
2,223 reviews35 followers
January 5, 2013
1/3/12 ** I thoroughly enjoyed this urban fantasy. Mike Mullin's blurb on the front cover says, "If Lloyd Alexander had written The Ranger's Apprentice, the result might have been something like Finn Finnegan. I agree, with the exception that neither Lloyd Alexander or John Flannagan write stories that are set in our world. Readers of Susan Cooper (Dark is Rising or Pamela Service who write of Arthurian lore in the modern world would also enjoy Finn Finnegan. Readers of Emma Bull's War for the Oaks would also enjoy this collision of the Fey with the modern world.

Finn and his guardian/master warrior face interesting problems as they try to battle supernatural forces in the constraints of the modern world. The visit from the child protection worker is a key example. Also, I felt Finn's typical adolescent frustration with the rules and strictures of "parents;" many kids will be able to relate.

I look forward to reading the second volume and sharing the series with my fourth graders.
Profile Image for Daniel Cohen.
Author 9 books348 followers
March 22, 2013

What a great story. Books like Finn Finnegan are very much convincing me that Middle Grade is where it's at. Darby has written a fun, engaging novel that can (and will) be enjoying by the young and old alike. For younger readers, Finn Finnegan is sure to spark imaginations and provide a realistic protagonist to eagerly follow through adventures. For older folks, Finn is sure to delight with its homages and plays on Irish folklore. I really enjoyed the mythology behind the Tuatha De Dennan and their relationship with the Amandan. SHP has done it again by championing yet another wonderful novel. Bring on book 2!
Profile Image for Kaci.
836 reviews
March 1, 2013
Darby did it again. She wrote an amazing urban fantasy with characters that are lovable, human, (well, not really, but you know what I mean) and wickedly skilled warriors. Gideon and Finn have a mutual passion for their craft as well as a love and respect for each other. I'm glad that Finn has human friends and that he can share his story with them, even if their parents aren't privy to the information. This is a perfect story and series for middle grade readers, both boys and girls. I am excited for my students to dive in.
Profile Image for Mindy/fangedmom.
233 reviews20 followers
July 23, 2013
I loved this book! The story flowed so nice and there was never a dull moment. Author Darby Karchut has an amazing knack at storytelling. I love everything Irish and this book keeps you turning the pages as fast as you can read them.

The content is YA but appeals to anyone of any age!

Highly recommend!
Profile Image for Michele at A Belle's Tales.
528 reviews3 followers
October 15, 2013
This book was absolutely perfect for my kiddo! Ms. Karchut kept her engaged in this exciting and completely age-appropriate story, and I loved that it filled my daughter with so many emotions -- made this mom's heart happy. You can find my daughter's full review on my blog A Belle's Tales.
Profile Image for Sherry Ficklin.
Author 44 books664 followers
January 29, 2013
The only thing keeping this from a full five stars is just that it's MG and MG isn't my favorite genre in general. Other than that, the book was Ah-mazing. If you love MG, give it a read!
Profile Image for Nick Garlick.
Author 8 books4 followers
June 27, 2017
Thirteen-year-old boy moves in with his guardian and begins to learn the skills needed to fight the centuries-old enemy of his (part-mortal) people. Finn has a temper, doesn’t like all the boring rules, and can’t understand why his guardian is SO strict. Which pretty much describes me at that age and explains why I could relate to this a lot more than the one time I tried one of the Twilight stories.

There’s also a nice plot turn near the end, when social services mistake bravely-earned battle scars for domestic abuse; I love it when the real world intrudes on a secret fantasy one. And it’s the reason I’ll be reading the sequel.
Profile Image for B.G. Clyde.
Author 1 book12 followers
January 5, 2018
Finn (not Finnegan) MacCullen is a thirteen-year-old apprentice learning the ways of a magical race of Irish warriors. He is a considered a half-breed by another apprentice and this leads to trouble when Finn’s Irish temper gets the better of him. The Amandan, dangerous monsters, not only attack Finn and his mentor but also Finn’s friends from across the street. An excellent book that mixes the modern world with the ancient, risk taking with growing up, and pride with learning.
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