The Wish Granter (Ravenspire #2)Featured
An uncommon fairytale retelling, with an equally uncommon heroine—ideal for fans of Once Upon A Time.
While tied to the first book in the Ravenspire series, The Wish Granter stands perfectly well on its own. It is told in a similar way--primarily dual POV in past-tense, with a smattering of the villain’s perspective threaded through. The resulting effect is consistent and cohesive. Some of the re-imagined elements (i.e. Hansel & Gretel: Monster Wranglers) posed intriguing worldbuilding questions that readers may look forward to being answered in future installments.
Arianna Glavan never asked to be a princess. When the ruling mantle inexplicably falls to her and her twin brother Thad, she tries to make the best of their newfound responsibilities. But while the kingdom of Sundraille is their home, it doesn’t accept the illegitimate heirs with open arms. Their leadership turns out to be little more than a puppet dictatorship under the thumb of a drug-dealing Fae kingpin named Alistair Teague. Defying Teague means death, but submitting to him means the corrosive destruction of everything good in Sundraille.
Ari is an exceedingly pleasant departure from Redwine’s previous heroines. (As much as I enjoy a no-nonsense kick-butt warrior for a protagonist, it’s nice to see an author flex their range.) She is quick-witted, pithily sarcastic, deeply caring—immediately likeable. She also happens to be plus-sized, ethnically blended, and reeling from a lifetime of being the ignored bastard child of the king rather than a “true” royalty. Never mind the fact that she’d rather be baking up a storm than trying to run an ungrateful, disintegrating kingdom.
Thad: “But this is a boy, and you need to think of your reputation if you’re spending time alone with him—”
Ari: ”Learning how to put a man's eye out or take him down at the knees. Very romantic stuff, Thad. Very romantic. Oh, and we also hid a body together, so we're practically engaged.”
All hail Princess Sassy-Pants! (I’m looking at you, Disney.)
Sebastian is a sympathetic hero, escaping a dismally awful background in hopes of a better life away from the drugs, abuse, and organized crime that were seemingly his birthright. His new job at the palace lands him directly in the path of the unorthodox—and doggedly determined--princess. Her insistence on treating him as an equal is enough to gradually chip away at his damaged past and sense of inferiority. While the eventual romance that develops between them is the kind that springs forth from a desperate thrown-together situation, it’s all the more believable for it.
My primary qualm with this story was in wishing there was something even mildly redemptive about Sebastian’s mother. I could accept his father being an abusive, 1-dimensional villain... but I was hoping for more depth out of the drug-seeking woman he felt motivated to fund a better life for. (Even just a memory or two of a time when she’d been more maternal, or a theory as to what hurts from her past drove her to this lifestyle, would have probably sufficed.) As it was, I struggled to understand how Sebastian could have turned out as an even vaguely honorable and/or functional human being—given there was no hint of any positive adult influence in his upbringing.
I also would have loved to see more of that living Fae house that came into play at the halfway point. It is said that a location can be a secondary character if portrayed well, but this reader had never before seen the concept taken so literally!
On the whole, this book is likely to prove an endearing and memorable experience for any medium-fantasy or fairytale enthusiast.
"Sometimes having courage means the hardest tasks fall onto your shoulders, and those leave the biggest scars.”
A Terrific Fairy Tale
As THE WISH GRANTER begins, the King of Sundraille’s illegitimate children, Thaddeus and Arianna, are trying to escape being murdered by their father’s wife to ensure her children are the ones who will inherit her husband’s throne. As Ari sleeps nearby, Thad’s desperation summons Alistair Teague to his side. Teague is one of the powerful fae known as the Wish Granter, and he bargains for humans’ souls in exchange for their deepest desires. Thad wishes to keep his sister safe, and Teague convinces him that the best way to do that is by becoming king—and giving Teague free reign to conduct his illicit businesses within the kingdom of Sundraille. In exchange, Thad’s soul will be turned over to the Wish Granter ten years later.
In the pages that follow, Thad fades into the background as Ari discovers that her brother has bartered his soul and his kingdom to save her, and she is determined to save him in exchange. Ari’s intelligence and tenaciousness are well developed through the story, and her sass, loyalty, and enjoyment of food—both cooking it and eating it—make her lovable and relatable. Early in the book, Ari befriends the new weapons master, Sebastian, and his fighting skill and knowledge of Teague’s business enterprises complement Ari’s strengths as the two work together to save the realm.
Ari quickly became one of my favorite female protagonists in YA literature, and I was happy that the development of her relationship with Sebastian was written so thoughtfully. It was great to see Ari maintain her independence, resilience, and resourcefulness throughout the book while slowly entering into a friendship-turned-romance with Sebastian.
Redwine writes the action sequences clearly and well, and despite the many twists and turns in the plot, I was never lost. The book is inspired by Rumplestiltskin, and the author doesn’t flinch from adhering to the edgy side of the classic tales. Alistair Teague is a merciless character, and this book is a far cry from a Disney retelling—something I really appreciate.
I have CJ Redwine’s THE SHADOW QUEEN, the companion book to THE WISH GRANTER, on my to-read list. I’ll definitely be moving up to the top of the pile based on the strength of this book.
My thanks to YA Books Central and the publisher for a copy of the book in exchange for my unbiased review.
Wonderful, strong, female protagonist