WISHTRESS, by Nadine Brandes, Thomas Nelson, Sept. 13, 2022, Hardcover, $19.99 (young adult)
A girl’s life is turned upside down when she learns her tears grant wishes in Nadine Brandes’ new young adult novel, Wishtress.
Myrthe was born with the ability to turn her tears into wishes. But when a granted wish goes wrong, she is cursed: the next tear she sheds will kill her. She must travel to the Well to break the curse before it can claim her life — and before the king’s militairen find her. To survive the journey, Myrthe must harden her heart to keep herself from crying even a single tear.
Bastiaan’s powerful — and rare — Talent came in handy when he kidnapped the old king. Now the new king has a job for him: find the Wishtress and deliver her to the schloss. But Bastiaan needs a wish of his own. He gains Myrthe’s trust by promising to take her to the Well, but once he gets what he needs, he’ll turn her in. As long as his growing feelings for the girl with a stone heart don’t compromise him.
Everyone seems to need a wish — the king, Myrthe’s cousin, the boy she thinks she loves. And they’re ready to bully, beg, and betray her for it. No one knows that to grant even one wish, Myrthe would pay with her life. And if she tells them about the curse . . . they’ll just kill her anyway. —Synopsis provided by Thomas Nelson
Wishtress is a “chaste” YA fantasy/romance featuring complex characters and fairly strong world-building. Author Nadine Brandes excels in her exploration of magic but could have done more with the world in which it exists.
Myrthe and Bastiann, however, seem fully realized. Both are compelling in their own way, and their supporting characters bring out the best — and worst — in them.
Going into Wishtress, it’s helpful for readers to know that the publisher, Thomas Nelson, is the “world leading publisher and provider of Christian content.” In the case of Wishtress that becomes apparent through allegory (it features a hidden moral meaning). And it’s a little heavy handed (not so hidden) toward the end — like you actively acknowledge it’s happening while reading it. That said, those moments feel true to the characters. But a more subtle approach would have created broader appeal.
At more than 450 pages, Wishtress is a fairly long novel, but its pacing is strong. Even when the action lulls a bit, Brandes maintains interest. The book is being billed as a stand-alone novel, but Brandes’ has certainly left the door open for a sequel.
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