On occasion, I will post a review of something I have read. This particular book by Gloria Piper is a YA parody.
In Finnegan’s Quest by Gloria Piper, we follow Finnegan, a young fox who has just left his mother. His mother, like all good mothers, has given him a solid foundation of how to live one’s life, stay safe, and thrive. But Finnegan is young and foolish. He has decided he must find a guru, and he has determined that the guru cannot be found where he is. To find his guru, he must venture out into the world. He throws out his mother’s rules (although he does keep some of them) and stumbles into Squiggly Woods.
Squiggly Woods is full of interesting critters, but there is a “dark spirit” over it. Finnegan first experiences this when trying to cross a river. To cross, he must pay a toll or suffer the wrath of the local bully, the bear Duh Fuz. Finnegan refuses to pay the toll, crosses the river anyway, and just manages to escape the bear. But he doesn’t get too far when a storm blows up and a tree limb falls on him, trapping Finnegan underneath it. No one but Crookshank, a crow with a damage leg, will help him. All the other critters that come upon him either laugh or refuse. Her act of kindness forges a friendship between the two. Little does Finnegan know that this unlikely savior is also his guru.
And thus begins the adventures of Finnegan and Crookshank.
Throughout the rest of the book, Finnegan continues his search for his guru. His preconceived notions about what a guru must be keep him from seeing the truth. A guru can only be an ancient, a hermit, or a great warrior. Crookshank is none of these. Besides, she’s a crow, and his mother warned him to never trust crows. Of course, she saved his life and she’s very wise, but… She is not a hermit, an ancient or a great warrior.
Eventually, he realizes that his guru has been with him all along, but not before he becomes embroiled in the politics of the woods, learns many lessons, and the two “outlaws” save the Squiggly Woods from the “dark spirit.”
Ms. Piper has an excellent mastery of the English language. The prose is beautiful, the story is well written, the allusions to church, society, and social pressure very obvious and humorous at times, but I struggled to read it. I puzzled over this. What was it about the book that kept me from enjoying it as much as the other readers who’ve reviewed it? Was I enjoying it? Yes and no.
I enjoyed the characters, but it just felt ponderous to me, as if the story lurched along at an uneven pace–one moment galloping along, the next screeching to a halt to accommodate another “lesson.” And, yes, I get that it’s a parody, but it’s very heavy handed, too heavy handed for this reader. For this reason, I give it three stars.
Finnegan’s Quest is available on Amazon.