Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Struggling writer Diego Sandoval spots a thin naked man from the rail of the Brooklyn Bridge, the pain and desperation inherent in that figure spurs Diego to action. An advocate for the homeless, he wants to get the man help and then to a shelter. But when Diego takes the man home to get cleaned up he gets the biggest surprise of all. The man, Finn, is in fact a Pooka, a being left behind when the Fae closed the doors between worlds. Worst of all, the city’s pollution and modern day chemicals are killing him. When Diego’s agent suggests he borrow a friends home in the woods up in New Brunswick to write, he jumps at the chance to get the Pooka, Finn, out of the city and into a more pristine environment where he can start to heal. But its not just Finn who needs healing but Diego as well, fresh off an abusive relationship. Diego is not sure what to expect from their adventure in the woods but what happens is both more wonderful and horrific than anything he can imagine.
Fionnachd, a Pooka, awoke to a new modern world where nothing is the same as he left it and all the changes are ones that have the power to kill him, even the water and the air he is breathing is making him sick. Rescued by a human who seems to glow with the light of compassion and something more, Finn slowly comes to care for Diego as he recovers from his centuries long sleep and illness. When Diego takes Finn to Canada’s remote woods, Finn finally feels healthy and at home in the wild natural setting. But something else lurks deep in the darkness, something that Finn accidentally awakes. Like calls to like, so magic calls to magic, only this magical being is an ancient, evil spirit: the wendigo.
As Finn and Diego struggle to find a way to kill the wendigo before it can possess Diego and return to the the city, they find themselves falling in love. Can a Pooka and a Human find love together or will the wendigo kill them first?
The púca (Irish for spirit/ghost) or pooka is an ancient Irish fae being, feared for its ability to assume all types of animals forms as it creates mischief and harm, usually after nightfall. And while the pooka may be best known here in the US because of a large pooka rabbit called Harvey, trust me when I say, this is not your parents pooka! This fae being, Finn, is sinfully sexy, with long black flowing hair, and once healthy, a body to die for. In Diego’s case, perhaps literally. How I love this story!
It didn’t take me long to fall under the magical spell that Angel Martinez creates for Finn, the first in her Endangered Fae series. With her first setting the melting pot that is Brooklyn, Martinez starts to spin a yarn that will incorporate a number of different mythologies into a romance with supernatural overtones. There is the Irish púca (also pooka, phouka), the Wendigo from the Algonquian Nation, and Taliesin, a wizard and bard who acquired the gift of prophecy, found in Welsh mythology. Layered onto such a fantastical foundation, Martinez brings in a main Hispanic character steeped in his own culture and language until this story just simmers with a richness of traditions, folklore, and diversity.
The story is told, in part, from Diego’s point of view, a gentle city dwelling writer whose daily jaunts through the streets of Brooklyn include stops to check in on various homeless people who have become friends. Diego delivers food, clothing and kindness and receives their trust in return. Martinez manages to reveal Diego’s personality not through a summary of his character traits but through his actions. And that’s a method that almost guarantees our affection and understanding of his nature and generosity of spirit. Diego’s support system includes Tia Carmen,his wonderful landlady whose friendship, acceptance, and wisdom will be necessary for the events to come. Through Tia Carmen, the story is peppered with bits of their language, cooking recipes and herbal medicines that Finn will need to recover. I wanted to taste her chicken and stuffed poblanos, red beans, and rice along with Finn as he licked his fingers and asked for more. It is this attention to detail and the layer upon layer that Martinez adds to her stories that make this such a multidimensional tale that will resonate with many.
There are so many characters to love here. From the most important ones such as Finn (such a lovely construct of a Fae) and Diego, a warmhearted, heart torn, generous soul to Tia Carmen, literary agent Miriam, or even such fleeting characters as Tiff and Rodney West, homeless,discarded street people, Martinez has taken great care to make each and every one a believable individual, one character as well rounded as the next. It’s the reason why you come to care for them all and remember their names long past the scenes they were mentioned in. In Marinez’ world, there doesn’t seem to be any such thing as a “throwaway” person, whether they be real or fiction. All matter, all count. That just deepens my appreciation of her talents as a writer as well as my admiration for her stories.
Both the romance and the Wendigo are great elements here. The romance is a slow build to love, especially as it has so many obstacles to overcome. Diego’s ex boyfriend, the very nature of the pooka himself, and finally the absolutely scary Wendigo, a horrific delight for those who enjoy a little fright with their m/m love stories. The Wendigo and its actions might gross out a few readers but the vivid descriptions and the manner in which Martinez gets her characters out of the wild situations they find themselves in is more than worth some of the gore found here. Really not bad at all by some of the standard stuff I see or read these days.
Martinez throws hints and clues here and there, scattered about her plot, that point to the next story in the series, Diego (Endangered Fae #2). I can’t wait to see what’s in store for my favorite pooka and his human love. This is the second edition for Finn, and as I am unfamiliar with the first, it is the only edition for me. I definitely recommend Finn for all lovers of m/m romance, the Fae, and the wild unknown.
Cover Art by Winterheart Design. Nice cover, love the model who stands in for Finn.
Kindle Edition, 205 pages
Published May 2nd 2014 by MLR Press (first published July 2nd 2009)
seriesEndangered Fae #1
charactersFinn Shannon, Diego Sandoval
settingNew Brunswick (Canada)
Books in the series in the order they were written and should be read are:
Finn (Endangered Fae #1)
Finn’s Christmas (Endangered Fae #1.5)
Diego (Endangered Fae #2)
Semper Fae (Endangered Fae #3)