Finnikin of the Rock - Melina Marchetta
We meet Finnikin ten years after the violent overthrow of his homeland - the kingdom of Lumatere. Not only was the entire royal family slaughtered, but in the chaos that followed the kingdom was placed under a curse and sealed off from the outside world. Finnikin, once closely associated with the doomed royal family, wanders surrounding kingdoms scouting for exiles like himself. One day, however, he encounters a strange girl who claims to possess a rare gift - the ability to walk through the sleep of others. What's more, she claims that Balthazar, the Lumateran crown prince, is alive and well. And thus begins an engrossing new young adult fantasy epic.

I have mixed feelings about the fantasy genre - particularly those of the 'epic/quest' variety like this one. I often find myself feeling bored and detached - The Fellowship of the Ring is a good example. But something about this one grabbed me and didn't let go until the very end. It's not without it's flaws. The story isn't particularly original, I guessed a major plot point/spoiler pretty early on, and the overall tone felt a bit bi-polar at times. But none of that really mattered in the end. I felt completely invested in the characters - even when they were being utterly irritating. Definitely recommended for lovers of the genre - and maybe even skeptics like myself. I'm definitely looking forward to more in the series!