”Bigfootloose and Finn Fancy Free” by Randy Henderson
The ill-starred Finn Gramaraye returns in a book packed with misadventures and dark magic in “Bigfootloose and Finn Fancy Free.”
Finn originally appeared last year in “Finn Fancy Necromancy,” a fantasy conceived by Kingston author Randy Henderson. That tale followed Finn’s misadventures after he was released from a 25-year exile in the fairy world and had to get back up to speed with all of the changes that had taken place not only in his hometown of Port Townsend, but in the broader world.
Finn comes from an arcana family that has magical powers, but there are other creatures afoot — werewolves, fauns, centaurs, shape-shifters — that have different priorities and needs, some of which are at cross-purposes with Finn’s version of normalcy.
In this sequel, Finn tries to settle down and go into business for himself. He’s started a dating service for the arcana, feybloods, and other supernaturally-endowed beings who live in his hometown amidst the “mundy” (non-magical) townsfolk. Using the Kin Finder, a device invented by his mad-scientist dad, Finn wants to help people find true love.
Unfortunately, trouble seems to find him first. With his first client, a sasquatch named Sal, Finn quickly learns that matchmaking for magicals can be a tricky and even dangerous endeavor.
Meanwhile Finn’s own love life with his longtime crush, the lovely and spunky Dawn, is complicated by the fact that he is burdened with a Fey spirit named Alynon who is trapped inside Finn’s brain and who frequently editorializes on Finn’s choices, moods, and sex life.
At the same time, Finn is trying to help younger brother Pete, who recently has been infected by a werewolf and now struggles to cope with his new identity while wooing his own sweetheart, Vee.
In other words, Finn has a full plate. Some might venture to say that it’s too full, to the detriment of the plot.
Henderson has so much going on that it’s hard to keep track of it all. There are vampires in Bellevue and nymphs along the Elwha. There’s action at the Japanese American Exclusion Memorial on Bainbridge Island, and underneath Snoqualmie Falls, and at the Olympic Game Park. There are clan wars and personal grudges.
And there’s a lot of challenging dialogue. Alynon’s arch comments inside Finn’s brain are set off by asterisks, while Finn’s internal responses are rendered in italics. There’s the grammatically distinctive voice of Sal (“I heartwished to give you-self bigthanks for healing Iself”) and the vengeful voice of a jorogumo villain (“I obey obey betray the betrayers all will die die die.”) There are curses and spells, and there’s come-on banter — which, disconcertingly, is accompanied by a lot of waggling eyebrows.
In adhering to this frenetic pace and madcap style, Henderson sacrifices comprehensibility. This didn’t seem to be as much of a problem in “Finn Fancy Necromancy.” A third volume is planned in this series — let’s see if Henderson can rein in the excessive busywork and get back to spinning an entertaining tale.
The Bookmonger review appears each week in Take Five. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.