Review: WICKED AS YOU WISH by Rin Chupeco

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Page Count: 432
Release Date: March 3rd, 2020
Series: A HUNDRED NAMES OF MAGIC, Book 1
Rating: 2.5/5 Stars – Didn’t Like It

Note: I was provided a free copy by the publisher in return for my fair and honest review.

20330977Tala’s life is fairly uncomplicated.  She lives in the town of Invierno, Arizona, where she does normal things like go to high school, and at home practices how to use her ability to cancel out magical effects. Of course, life did get a little more complicated when Alex, the seventeen-year-old heir to the kingdom of Avalon who is in hiding from the Snow Queen, arrived a year ago.  But when Alex’s cover is blown, Tala’s life blows completely apart.  Beset by ogres and immigration agents alike, Tala and a newly arrived set of teen bodyguards must get Alex safely to his home kingdom, before the Snow Queen can track them down and destroy the last threat to her power.

I am a sucker for fairy tale mashups and retellings.  Tell me that Red Riding Hood, Snow White and Mulan are teaming up to fight Maleficent, and I am there.  WICKED AS YOU WISH, therefore, should have been a story that I at very least enjoyed, if not outright loved.  Sadly, it instead fell short of the mark, the world-building frequently leaving me frustrated and confused, and the characters strangely hollow.

WICKED AS YOU WISH takes place in a world where various fairy tale kingdoms like Wonderland exist along side-by-side with “real world” places like the US and Russia.  Except the US is the Royal States of America and California is its own thing and so on and so forth.  (My ARC didn’t include a map and I don’t know if one is part of the final copy, but this book DEFINITELY needs one.)  Magic is real but varies depending on the culture (which as a concept makes sense) and world history is the same but jusssst off (imagine most of world history as you know it, but with magic).  This is the kind of world-building that could have worked if the author had chosen to focus on a section of it and really explored it in depth, but instead she chose to try and explain ALL of it in info-dump after info-dump.  The end result felt like a world built out of fairy-tales mad libs, rather than a cohesive place.

Equally frustrating were the characters.  In short order, you are introduced to an ensemble of teen warriors who are there to protect the prince as he tries to reclaim his throne.  Unfortunately, the characters spend so much time explaining their abilities and the world and the many, many MANY curses and prophecies revolving around everyone, that I never felt like I got to know the characters as people.  Sure, I know that that one turns into animals and that girl has a magic whip, and that guy has swords, (although I literally forgot that guy OTHER guy existed until he spoke just now).  But while I can tell you their powers I couldn’t begin to tell you their personalities or their motivations.

The author clearly had a very personal goal while writing this book.  A healthy chunk of the narrative is commentary on the immigration policy of the United States, and I applaud the author for trying to use her story to showcase some of the horror of what’s going on at the border.  Unfortunately, the immigration message is just another element in an already crowded tale, contributing to the book’s overall lack of focus.  I very much wish I could recommend this book for multiple reasons, but sadly for me this is one to skip.

 

10 thoughts on “Review: WICKED AS YOU WISH by Rin Chupeco

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  1. I am sorry you did not enjoy it! Lately I am growing wary of fairy tales mashups and retelling because usually I have too many expectations and they didn’t meet them so… Wairy. And now I think I would just pass this one. I have read some reviews, even some good ones, but I wasn’t convinced and now I think I would end up feeling like you, if I ever read this one so… Nope!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I wasn’t a fan of her previous books, the bone witch trilogy, and now I keep seeing mixed things about this one.. So I’m not really sure if I will ever pick this one up..
    Great review!

    (www.evelynreads.com)

    Liked by 1 person

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