Verdict: THE FAIRYTALE CHICAGO OF FRANCESCA FINNEGAN is a deeply imaginative and wondrous fairytale for adults who are still young at heart.
When Richard K. Lyons takes a nasty fall and bashes his head against a sewer cap, he’s nothing but a businessman. An ambiguous “vice president of something,” Richard’s life has become a boring routine and a short step from complete ruin. But once the fall plunges him back into long forgotten childhood memories, Richard recalls an endless night where he met the adventurous Francesca Finnegan. Together, they share a bizarre and beautiful adventure riding the mysterious Lavender Line through the mythical East Side of Chicago.
Steven Wiley’s THE FAIRYTALE CHICAGO offers the type of urban fantasy that the genre is sorely lacking. It pulls a few pages from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland with a dash of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, both of which are referenced by the eponymous, blue-haired Francesca Finnegan. Filled with clever rhymes and plays on words, the prose itself is pure fun. Witty, humorous, and at times profound, the tone is true to its fairytale style. And like all good fairytales, it teaches a lesson—one that older readers are sure to benefit from.
Swept up on a wonderfully strange adventure alongside Rich and Francesca, one finds magic at every turn. The Lavender Line L train evokes magic in its name right from the start, then weaves through a curious, inexplicable hidden world within the city. Vignettes from other characters who reside in this world further enrich its creation. A drunken elf recounts actual ghostly spirits who give alcoholic spirits their flavor. The infamous Chicago wind becomes personified and settles as a regular presence throughout the night. Francesca’s father enlightens the audience with the real story behind the Great Chicago Fire. Straddling that hazy space between dreams and reality, one doesn’t exactly know what’s real and what isn’t, which is part of the true magic in THE FAIRYTALE CHICAGO. The only disappointment is that eventually the night ends and one must step off the Lavender Line.
THE FAIRYTALE CHICAGO OF FRANCESCA FINNEGAN is a deeply imaginative and wondrous fairytale for adults who are still young at heart.
~Jessica Thomas for IndieReader