It's the first book in a two-book series from Jacqueline West, the New York Times–bestselling author of The Books of Elsewhere series. For fans of Serafina and the Black Cloak, The Isle of the Lost, and The Secret Keepers.
Van has always been an outsider. Most people don’t notice him. But he notices them. And he notices the small trinkets they drop, or lose, or throw away—that’s why his collection is full of treasures. Then one day, Van notices a girl stealing pennies from a fountain, and everything changes. He follows the girl, Pebble, and uncovers an underground world full of wishes and the people who collect them. Apparently not all wishes are good and even good wishes often have unintended consequences—and the Collectors have made it their duty to protect us. But they aren't the only ones who have their eyes on the world’s wishes—and they may not be the good guys, after all.
The story with Peter adds a nice dimension, since children whose parents are dating each other probably are very ambivalent about each other. Van's hearing loss is well portrayed, and his struggles with understanding speech are explained in a way that will help younger readers understand what it might be like. Having an opera singer as a mother is not something many children have, so that was interesting as well.
Readers who enjoy books where the good and evil sides aren't particularly clear cut, like Colfer's Artemis Fowl series of Delaney's The Last Apprentice will enjoy Van' confusion over whether he should believe Mr. Falbourg's take on the Wish Eaters or Pebble's and the Collector's. I'm still a little torn myself, since Mr. Folbourg is introduced as a kindly, crinkly-eyed older gentleman but at the end manages to disappear, much to Van's dismay. This could be a stand alone title, but I can see the series continuing as well.