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The Fairytale Chicago of Francesca Finnegan

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  202 ratings  ·  56 reviews
"Intelligent, enchanting, playful" - Publishers Weekly

In Chicago, a curious L train runs through a hidden side of the city, at the intersection of something here and something there, right where you stop believing in last. On that train, you'll discover fantastical truths about the city, alongside the most fascinating cast of characters, including one exceptional girl by t
Hardcover, 250 pages
Published March 1st 2017 by Lavender Line Press
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Average rating 3.48  · 
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Jason Pettus
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

I'll admit, although the premise of Steve Wiley's The Fairytale Chicago of Francesca Finnegan is a really clever one that will immediately appeal to locals -- basically, that there's an entire urban-fantasy secret history of the city, including an underwater "lavender line" el train that runs through a sub
Lynda Dickson
Mar 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 17+
Shelves: adult
Richard Lyons may be rich, but he's not happy. He's going through life like a zombie. But then, one Friday night, he meets a girl who tells fairy tales in the street. An accidental bump to the head later, and so begin the adventures of Rich Lyons through Francesca Finnegan's fairytale Chicago.

I was captivated from the opening line - "There is magic in the city." - which sets the tone for this magical story that reads like a modern, original fairy tale. It's a charming, whimsical, alternate histo
David Stringer
Dec 18, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This is a tale about a middle aged man, Richard, who is re-united with an old childhood friend, Francesca, who then goes on to remind and show Richard of a secret magical world that is going on all around us in Chicago.

I think part of this tale that appealed to me, was the main character's Richards life and how as a child he believed and lived in a world of magic, wonder and fairies although he barely remembers any of this now, as real life has caught up with him. Richard is now a successful bus
No star rating because I just couldn't finish it.

There is a difference between authors who are a little wacky (Brautigan, Adams, Pratchett, Sedaris) and those who really try to be wacky.

This book is all over the place. The words are very aware of how clever they are.

Maybe someone else will love it. I just couldn't get past that feeling to enjoy the story line.
Jan 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
**I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley in return for my own personal and honest review**

What a book. I saw this book while flicking through Netgalley and thought I just have to read it. And I am so glad I did.

Richard the rich has managed to do what many aspire to do and become the Vice President of something or other and has managed to become an incredibly rich man. Sadly he also seems to have become an incredibly unhappy man too - perhaps a true reflection on today's society. Whilst
Joe Crowe
Apr 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Hilarious. That's what this is.

This reminds me of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, because they share an outlandish sense of silliness. Fanciful, whimsical stuff like a talking fox show up for no discernible reason. I need that to happen in all books.

The whole book is whimsical and joyful, and clearly a labor of fun for writer Steve Wiley.

Major points for the perfect reference to "Magic" from The Cars. The 1984 song strikes precisely the right tone for the book. I couldn't get it out of my he
 Linda (Miss Greedybooks)
I liked this, it has some good laugh out loud moments. I liked the Chicago references that are correct... I wonder why a writer would put details in a book about a place they must not be familiar with? I bought the other available Steve Wiley book.
Mandy Peterson
Mar 23, 2017 rated it liked it
I got my hands on this audiobook as part of a blog tour, and after reading the description, I immediately volunteered to review it.

As adults, how often do we look at our lives and wish the magic we believed in as children was real? (Even if, like me, it's just the magic that would enable chores to do themselves and cleaning to always be done!) This book is a well-done nod to that feeling that takes you by the hand and says, "Let's fix that, shall we?" While I listened to the audiobook, I kind of
Oct 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not a deep book, but it is a delightful and charming tale that incorporates an obvious love for Chicago and its history. It made me look at the city in a more magical, childlike way:

"And so the old man performed tricks for Rich and regaled him with city folklore and fantasy. He said the Great Chicago Fire was arson, started by a fire-breathing dragon from the Fulton River District who was fed up with the cold winters. He said the Chicago River started flowing backward when a giant sea se
Lynne Hinkey
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Fairytale Chicago of Francesca Finnegan is a whimsical frolic through an alternate Chicago–past and present–complete with the “real” stories behind many famous Chicago sites, events, and characters. Readers unfamiliar with Chicago landmarks, history, and culture may not find the stories as entertaining as those who have fallen under the Windy City’s charms, but anyone who has will be captivated. To read this review in its entirety, please stop by Undergroundbookreviews (dot) org.
Mary Spring-Mueller
I really wanted to like this book. What could go wrong with combining Chicago and magic? Well, lots. This reads like an unedited transcription of an imaginative 7-year old's drunken fever dream after having fallen asleep on an old Chicago map. I was put off by the unnecessary uses of racial slurs and stereotypes, which felt more editorial than contextual. I finished it with the hopes of it getting better only because it was so short. ...more
I don't normally write about books I read, but this book was really cool! Being from Chicago it was really fun to read a book and know the places and things that were used in the story! Like watching a movie with your town as the backdrop to the story! And this was a twist on the Chicago I know & love! If you liked Faiy Tales as a kid, you'd probably like this book! I highly recommend it! ...more
EskieMama & Dragon Lady Reads

When we first encounter Richard K. Lyons, he is no longer the boy that believed in magic and fairy tales, his life is boring, a marriage that is failing and he is also contemplating suiced. Until he runs into Francesca who little by little shows him the magic that built parts of Chicago, on board of a secret L line.
Dreams that were forgotten once you woke up, Tich (Richard) is now a grown man, no longer the child that believed, will the rediscovery of his past trip with her save
Mar 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Fairytale Chicago of Francesca Finnegan by: Steve Wiley This book to me was almost like an adult version of Alice in Wonderland. Instead of a White Rabbit there was Francesca Finnegan. One night when Rich was young he ran into Francesca and she take him on a ride on the Secret L Train. Now Rich is an adult, to me a pretty messed up adult. He has to remember the night with Francesca to save himself.
The book bounces a bit. There are some silly to crazy stories mixed in with Rich's life story.
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love this book! I’m instantly re-reading it!!
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Funny. Whimsical. Surprising. Everything a good "modern" fairytale should be. A wonderful trip trough the nooks and crannies of historic Chicago. The story follows the life of depressed Richard Lyons, who is stuck in the humdrum of corporate America. Due to an unexpected event, Richard explores the magical and surprising Windy City of today and yesterday, meeting a number of unforgettable characters along the way; the most memorable being Francesca Finnegan. The ending is redeeming and heartwarm ...more
Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've never read anything quite like this! ...more
Mar 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED IT!!! Here is the magical, satirical, hysterical, and shockingly poignant tale of what happens when Richard K. Lyons, an immensely wealthy and important "vice president of something" boards Chicago's mythical "L train" and encounters the wild, blue-haired Francesca Finnegan: a girl from his past, who maybe, just maybe, will make him rediscover magic. A wholly unique take on adulthood and imagination. ...more
Jenna Smith
Mar 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Fairytale Chicago of Francesca Finnegan is such a unique story! We have all been nostalgic for the childlike wonder we once had as we age into cynical adults, which is exactly what happened to Richard Lyons. It's a fun fairytale but written for adults, which makes it all the more enjoyable. Chicagoans and others alike will love this awesome book! ...more
Aug 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
As a Chicagoan this was a fabulous read! All the great stories of Chicago from Malort to the Great Chicago Fire, Fort Dearborn, the mysterious mermaid statue, Riverview, The Green Mill, The Aragon Ballroom, and on and on...told as fairy tales. Humorous and entertaining! Loved it!
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Book Review originally published here:

The Fairytale Chicago of Francesca Finnegan is a truly outstanding read. It’s hard to review it, because it’s not just one genre, and it’s not just one story – it transcends both, becoming more than just a fantasy book, more than just the story of one man and the strange girl he met on a secret L train many years ago. It goes beyond that, way beyond, and combines myth and magic and mystery and fantasy in a tale with o
Such a delightful tale that captures the magical history of this magical city. A Christmas Carol meets A Midsummer Night's Dream along the shores of Lake Michigan. ...more
James Conway
Oct 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not since One Hundred Years of Solitude has a work of fiction make me laugh out loud. It happened in the same spot with both books, at the end of the first paragraph on the first page.

In The Fairytale Chicago of Francesca Finnegan the author tells us that “the city felt like something made of magic”, and it does.

This book reminds me of the Pedway; a mythical underground world beneath Chicago that millions of the city’s own denizens don’t even know exists and, those that do, don’t know how to fin
Melanie Grussenmeyer
Jan 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I never thought I would be into a book with fairies, but then again, I probably thought the same thing about dragons and vampires at one point too.

This book is like nothing I've ever read before, in a good way. I'm not used to books from the fantasy genre, but this one pulled me in right away. The writing is almost as magical as the story, so many great quotes in this book like "once people stop asking you your favorite color, you're done for".

The mystical "east side" of Chicago, and all of its
Mar 18, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, reviews
DNF. Everything about this book was silly, and not in the "Dr. Seuss" good kind of silly. In the "this is the dumbest thing I have ever read" type of silly. I received my copy of this just before leaving on a trip to visit a friend and we ended up reading bits of it out loud and sharing our disbelief over the sheer ludicrous nature of the narrative. Normally I refuse to give first-time writers a one-star review but (1) I don't think this is the author's first book and (2) there is no way all of ...more
Charlotte Pattison-Rideout
Jan 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed the individual fairytales contained within this book but thought the overall identity was confused. Was this about Francesca? Rich? Chicago? What seemed to start as a story about Rich's self-discovery got distracted by all the tangential stories. I quite liked the style of writing but at times felt that this ought to be a children's book - save for some of the language! Not quite sure what to make of it. ...more
Dec 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Jan 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads-won
I won The Fairytale Chicago of Francesca Finnegan from Goodreads for an honest review. I didn't really like this book. I had to put it down. I tried to go back to it but I couldn't. ...more
judy murphy
Oct 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Read it in two days,could not put it down. Was looking for a change in what I was reading,this was it
Jun 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think anyone who lives in or is familiar with Chicago and its history will really enjoy this read as there are so many references to locations and events, past and present, and the author's clever take on alternative histories. Having lived in the Chicago area all my life, I enjoyed that aspect of this book the most.

At the heart of this story is an adult urban fairytale that revolves around Richard K. Lyons as a boy, although the book starts and ends with his story as a grown man. Not being m
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Steve is a writer from in and around Chicagoland, where he still lives with his wife and two kids. Publishers Weekly called his first novel, The Fairytale Chicago of Francesca Finnegan, "Intelligent, enchanting, and playful." Wiley's second novel, The Imagined Homecoming of Icarus Isakov, was released in the spring of 2020. His third novel, The Elven Inquisition: A Woke Fairy Story, is scheduled f ...more

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