Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Wishing World

The Wishing World
by Todd Fahnestock
Recommended Ages: 13+

One rainy night during a camping trip with her family, Lorelei is left behind while a giant tentacled creature abducts her parents and her younger brother Theron. A year later, she remains unable to accept her family's disappearance. Rebelling against the kindly uncle and aunt who have taken her in, she sneaks back into her parents' former house the night before its new owners are supposed to move in. There she finds a portal to a bizarre world where the wishes of certain imaginative children can become reality - and where the villainous Ink King holds her parents captive. She joins a whimsical group of friends - a talking toucan, a wise mouse, and a brave griffon, for a start - and sets off across a varied landscape featuring puking flowers, flying foxes, a blue princess, and a knight in a suit of mirrors astride a giant pug dog.

Lorelei also discovers she has the power to bend Veloran, a.k.a. the Wishing World, to her will in a way no other child ever has - a power that makes her the greatest danger to that place of magic. She is a Doolivanti - one of the children who can become a part of this world made up of the imaginings of many different children, all blended together. But she is so strong-willed, so single-minded in her purpose to get her family back, and so righteously opposed to the evil plans of the Ink King, that she herself could be a threat to the Wishing World. Once she realizes this, Lorelei is faced with a terrible choice - whether to destroy a beautiful haven for hurting children, or to let go.

I wasn't head-over-heels in love with this book at the start, but it grew on me. Lorelei isn't the easiest main character to sympathize with. But her imperfections make her seem true to life, and even more poignantly, they give her a ring of familiarity. I think a lot of frustrated teens will see a bit of themselves in Lorelei, and as they cheer her along in the struggle against cruel selfishness - including her own - they may grow a bit in self-knowledge. The magic is fabulous; the emotional conflicts are powerful; the climax is breathtaking; and the whole concept is strange, captivating, and new. The voice of Lorelei's narrative is engaging and original, with a couple catch-phrases that pull the book together in a unity of style.

Todd Fahnestock is the Colorado-based author of Fairmist and, with co-author Giles Carwyn, of the Heartstone trilogy comprising Heir of Autumn, Mistress of Winter, and Queen of Oblivion. This review is based on a pre-publication proof on Kindle, made available through Netgalley dot com. This book is scheduled for U.S. release Oct. 25, 2016.

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