Finn Fancy Necromancy by Randy Henderson

8/10 Lots of fun and engaging with a strong sense of the bizarre

A grand prize winner of the 2014 writers of the Future Award, a Clarion West graduate and member of SFWA and Codex, Randy Henderson has had his work published in Penumbra, Escape Pod and Realms of Fantasy as well as being in other anthologies. This is his début novel.

Time is of the essence for Finn Grammarage when he comes back to the human realm after twenty-five years of exile in the other realm after he was found guilty of a crime he never committed. Now that he is much older, he finds he has been accused of murder yet again and he only has three days to clear his name. If he can get the love of his life to accept him as her one true love he will be fine, but it's a tall order for her. However, Finn's in a positive mood and he's not about to let opposition get the better of him. Once he’s back home it’s his older brother who doesn't like that he’s there, but then Finn's got a strange family; a mad father, a mother who’s a ghost, a magic allergic sister and his nicer brother thinks he might be a werewolf.

For Finn, exile wasn't to be imprisoned, it was far worse than that. As their prisoner, he would have been taken out of his own body and put into an ethereal one, having all sensations and feeling taken away from him, with no access to all the things he had grown used to during the 80's. Finn Fancy Necromancy is littered with pop culture references to 80's TV series and the like; Inspector Gadget and Scooby Doo. Readers will find Finn's strange family on the front cover as humorous as they are all pictured as being pixelated like from a video game.

Henderson starts his story off at the point where Finn is released from prison and put back in his own real body. After that he is back to square one with another murder he doesn't commit right there at his feet. With no proof he hasn't done it, Finn has to find out the real murderer. It isn't easy when everyone thinks it is him and proving he is innocent might go without anyone believing him at all. Finn's family are an odd bunch, yet Titan Books are known for their publishing of unusual titles with great humour in them. There are odd characters in a semi-normal situation taken right out of a computer game. Finn has very few friends he can rely on to help him evade the Enforcers and even less he can trust with his life. Enforcers can tell if people are lying, so Finn and Sammy coming across two of them could be a good thing as they would be able to tell he is an honest type. Reggie and Grayson have an idea Finn didn't kill anyone but if they can't find anyone to blame, he might just become the kind of suspect they could use to act as a scapegoat. He might not have much choice other than to hand himself over to the Enforcers for questioning and torture. With the destruction of two changelings and Fey wardens and a missing ARC enforcer, he has to let Reggie and Grayson help out, possibly even probe his mind for information if it comes to that - but Finn might not come out of the procedure too well mentally. The time they have is six days to reduce the breach of border security before the Fey have a chance to cause trouble in their world. Reggie's got three days to find out what happened before he has to go all hard-line on Finn.

After his run in with the Enforcers, Finn doesn't feel like he has been away so long until he goes back home to his room and sees the stuff he remembers from the 80's lying there. Finn feels he is in a time warp and his life has been taken away from him, and could be again if the real criminal isn't found. Though Finn's hard to live with predicament readers also get to find out more about him and his gift. As a Talker, he has the ability to talk to the dead even when they have passed away and if he uses it too much, he can age physically and become very ill for weeks. The first time he experienced being a Talker was when he was a kid and his friend John was hit by a car on their way to the arcade. As unusual as it is entertaining, Randy Henderson has problems with trusting someone to help him, and being able to get to the bottom of who has wanted to frame him, but there are other underlying troubles he has to face first.

Fantasy mysteries are lots of fun and they are engaging the reader with a strong sense of the bizarre right from the beginning.

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