Title: The Fairytale Chicago of Francesca Finnegan
Author: Steve Wiley
“Did you know most anything that matters in this city was built by magic before it was built by men? Of course you didn’t. This city is different from other cities. The true history of it is unpublished. Lucky for you, I know it all by heart.”
~ Francesca Finnegan
In Chicago, a secret L train runs through the mythical East Side of the city. On that train, you’ll find a house-cat conductor, an alcoholic elf, a queen of the last city farm, the most curious wind, and an exceptional girl by the name of Francesca Finnegan.
When we first encounter Richard K. Lyons, he is a man who has long forgotten the one night, when he was still a boy called Rich, when Francesca invited him aboard the secret L for an adventure though the East Side. The night was a mad epic, complete with gravity-defying first kisses, mermaid overdoses, and princess rescues. Unfortunately for Rich, the night ended like one of those elusive dreams forgotten the moment you wake. Now, Rich is all grown up and out of childish adventures, an adult whose life is on the verge of ruin. It will take the rediscovery of his exploits with Francesca, and a reacquaintance with the boy he once was, to save him.
Richard Lyons is a successful businessman in Chicago, a vice-president of something or other. He makes a lot of money ordering people around and then spends it on alcohol. Even though Richard has a successful career, a wife and a son-he is not happy and begins to wish his life away by means of falling icicles. Richard has forgotten his childhood when he was just Rich, when he played Ghosts in the Graveyard and caught the uncatchable girl, Francesca Finnegan and was introduced to the magic of Chicago.
This fairytale is very much for adults, adults who have forgotten how to have fun and invite magic and mystery into their life. When Richard is introduced, he is very much like many of the adults that I know, climbing up in their career ladder, but unhappy in their private lives. I did not like Richard very much at this point. However, Richard then meets a young woman on the street who takes him back to the past. Once Richard began to go back, I loved every second of his journey with Francesca Finnegan into the Fairytale Chicago. Much like any other fairytale, the fairytales that Rich witnesses strive to explain events and other things that don't seem to have an explanation at the time. Francesca's fairy tales explain the Great Chicago fire, the strange turns in weather, the colored L trains, even the secret mermaid statue. I'm sure I would have appreciated the stories even more if I had any significant ties to Chicago, but anyone familiar with the major traits of the city should understand. Francesca was absolutely magical, practical, logical and humorous all at once reminding both Rich's character and the reader the beauty of childhood.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
Steve Wiley, Author
Steve is a father, husband, uncle, brother, friend, and purveyor of fairy stories. He grew up in and around Chicagoland, where he still lives with his wife and two kids. He has been published in an array of strange and serious places, from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., to Crannóg magazine in Galway, Ireland. This is his first book. He has an undergraduate degree in something he has forgotten from Illinois State University and a graduate degree in something equally forgotten from DePaul University. You can email Steve at Lavenderlinepress@gmail.com, or visit thewileymancan on Instagram.
Chris is an artist who studied at Columbia College Chicago. He is a Chicago native and has lived here all his life. Chris’s paintings have been showcased in many local galleries and beyond. When he feels like it, he travels elsewhere to find inspiration. You can reach him at Chris.firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit _ccihon on Instagram.