Disclaimer: Finders Keepers, by Dorothy A. Winsor, was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Twelve-year-old Cade is lucky—or cursed—enough to be a Finder, someone who senses the presence of precious heart stones. When Mum, who’s also a Finder, is seized to work in the hellish heart stone mines, Cade’s older brother wants him out of the path of anyone who might spot his “talent” and send him too to the mines. But first, they have to search the city to find and free Mum. Unfortunately odd things are happening in the city as it approaches its big New Year celebration, when the calendar will turn to the year 4000. The old prophets say that on New Year’s Eve, the world will descend into fire, earthquake, and plague, with the worst of it in the city, the center of the world. Cade hides his talent, searches for Mum, and dodges a girl thief, who tells him that disaster can be averted if a dozen heart stones are placed in the temple at the city’s center. Won’t Cade to help her find and steal them from miners’ houses? Danger presses from all sides—miners, the Watch, fever, fire, and possibly the thief herself. And where, oh where, is Mum?
I really enjoyed the story of Finders Keepers, and the worldbuilding was mostly pleasantly subtle. There were shades of Megan Whalen Turner’s The Thief throughout, which is perhaps why I liked it so much, although the world of Finders Keepers is not nearly as rich or developed. The plot made the obvious twists and turns and nothing incredibly astonishing or original showed up, but I did like the story anyway.
That being said, the writing certainly could use improvement and while I liked the subtle bits of worldbuilding, I didn’t like as much the penchant for the “conversation infodump,” where everything important is revealed in a casual conversation between two characters. Cade also made some astounding leaps in logic and, despite being new to the whole Finding thing, suddenly knew things that I didn’t think he could have realistically known without prior practice. A result of the author trying to reveal information about the world and the mechanics of her magic system, I think, although it’s very jarring to read.
I did like Finders Keepers, but I found it very superficial—a pleasant read, with pleasant characters and a pleasant little story and world…but nothing more. It’s a very basic story, and lacks a lot of beauty and richness and depth in the writing and world and characters. I enjoyed it, but it’s not particularly memorable. With a little work, though, I think there might be something to it.
My rating: 3/5
Warnings: Some violence.
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade
You can buy this here: Finders Keepers