Book Review: Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco

If you are looking for something different, WICKED AS YOU WISH is the YA novel for you. Blending alternative history, contemporary fantasy, and fairy tales, author Rin Chupeco has crafted a wild adventure. This is a very different book from her other, darker stories, and one that you will likely read more than once as there is so much to discover.

Many thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a digital ARC of the book. This post contains affiliate links. That means if you click on my link and buy something, I will earn a small commission from the advertiser at no additional cost to you.

THE DEETS: WICKED AS YOU WISH

Book Review: Wicked As You Wish by Rin ChupecoWicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco
on 2020
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Fairy Tales & Folklore, Fantasy, Contemporary, Alternative History
Pages: 432
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An unforgettable alternative history fairytale series from the author of The Bone Witch trilogy about found family, modern day magic, and finding the place you belong.

Many years ago, the magical Kingdom of Avalon was left desolate and encased in ice when the evil Snow Queen waged war on the powerful country. Its former citizens are now refugees in a world mostly devoid of magic. Which is why the crown prince and his protectors are stuck in...Arizona.

Prince Alexei, the sole survivor of the Avalon royal family, is in hiding in a town so boring, magic doesn't even work there. Few know his secret identity, but his friend Tala is one of them. Tala doesn't mind--she has secrets of her own. Namely, that she's a spellbreaker, someone who negates magic.

Then hope for their abandoned homeland reignites when a famous creature of legend, and Avalon's most powerful weapon, the Firebird, appears for the first time in decades. Alex and Tala unite with a ragtag group of new friends to journey back to Avalon for a showdown that will change the world as they know it.

four-stars

MY REVIEW

I absolutely love Rin Chupeco’s THE BONE WITCH trilogy, so I was excited to dig into WICKED AS YOU WISH.

It totally did not disappoint.

WICKED AS YOU WISH has the feel of epic fantasy with a contemporary twist, thanks to the world-building that she does in this story. (I’m REALLY hoping there are maps in the print version. I had a hard time placing where some of the countries are located in this alternate history of the world.) The setting for the story is modern-day, but thanks to this alternate timeline, the US is the Royal States of America, California has been annexed, and fairy tale lands are real places (think Neverland, Avalon, Wonderland) along with a contingent of fairy tale princesses (Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Red Hood, etc) who have real backstories.

Chupeco has woven in a lot of modern-day issues – ICE and borders, prejudice against minorities and LGBTQ, the fight for technology and resources in order to maintain power. She also has a diverse cast of characters that are well developed and interesting. They are fierce, quirky, and strong-willed, and the diversity includes race, sexual orientation,and gender identification.

In this story, Alex, the last prince of Avalon, has been in hiding while they await the arrival of a firebird before his 18th birthday. Its arrival will hopefully signal that he will, at last, be able to free his country of the icy tomb it’s been buried in.

Magic is real, and made accessible through technology. Tala is half Filipino, half Scottish, and her “magic” (from her mother’s side) is that she can repel magic. Or, at least, she is in the process of learning how to master this skill. (You’ll never hear Carly Rae Jepson again without thinking of this book.)

She lives in Arizona next door to a houseful of other Filipino aunties and uncles, all who are fierce warriors/guards of their own right (fighting with fans edged with sharp blades, among other things.)

Along with these characters are the Bandersnatch (aka, the Banders), a group of teenaged warrior/protectors who are equally interesting: Zoe, the leader of the group, and a fierce fighter who can control lightning; Cole, who the rest of the group eyes suspiciously and is considered undependable; Loki, who can see magical residue and carries a magical toothpick that turns into a fighting staff; Ken, who fights with two very dangerous swords; and West, a shapeshifter who defaults all too often to naked when not in animal form. (West also comes from a family of naturalists who shun modern tech, so he’s basically a blank slate when it comes to slang, any kind of technology, and pop culture.) Along for the ride is a very cheeky, scene-stealing firebird.

Of all the characters, Tala is the LEAST informed about what’s going on, both with the task they must undertake and her family history. Even her control of her own powers is still a work in progress. Much of what we learn, Tala is discovring, too.

Oh, and the battles! There are a wide variety of enemies to battle, from evil shadows (“shades”), ogres, ice wolves and ice maidens (both nasty), to a Swamp king and the Ice Queen’s army of Deathless followers. (Confession: I’m still unclear as what the latter is once possessed by the Ice Queen, other than “gone”.)

And to that end…there is a LOT going on in WICKED AS YOU WISH.

The feeling of epic fantasy comes, I think, from the sheer amount of information related to the world-building going on in the story. There is a lot of it – magic, cultures, history, and it’s all thrown at you in some pretty big info dumps. This isn’t a story to race through – while this was a marathon read for me, it did involve a bit of backtracking from time to time to re-read a section to sort out history, in particular.

I admit, there were a few spots where the pace picked up and I lost the thread a little bit. There are still a few elements in play that I’m confused about at the end – this was a tale with a LOT going on. There is also a lot of magical terms to keep straight (as the book says – there are as many words in Tagalog for “magic” as the Inuit have for “snow”) as there are locations of these nether lands and a lot of side characters.

I think this is a book that you will either love…or not finish, because of the world-building/information dump. (But please don’t let that dissuede you because it is SO clever and creative and just damn good.) Also, it’s a book that you probably shouldn’t read in a day because it’s a lot to process. (ADHD is one of my superpowers, and with it comes hyperfocus, so I tend to tune out everything else when I read.)

For me, WICKED AS YOU WISH was a magical mix of fantasy, fairy tales, magic, and adventure that I simply couldn’t put it down – and I can’t wait to see what comes next for Tala, Alex, and the rest of the crew. (Although wait, I must…)

If this sounds interesting, here’s another book you might enjoy:

COVER IMAGE of Kingdom of Exiles

Kingdom of Exiles by Maxym M Martineau

four-stars

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