If you’ve been around a bit (or if you read my recent interview with Kayla Green), you may know that Nadine Brandes is among my favorite authors. So, naturally, I was thrilled to receive an Advance Reader Copy of her upcoming book Wishtress! I was already super excited about this one due to it being a straight-up fantasy, which is my favorite genre. And it’s a standalone, which I think is underrated these days—especially in the fantasy genre. Y’know, besides Nadine being the author. And Wishtress did not disappoint!
(Required disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher but was not required to contribute a positive review. The following thoughts are entirely my own, honest review.)
What is Wishtress about?
She didn’t ask to be the Wishtress.
Myrthe was born with the ability to turn her tears into wishes. It’s a big secret to keep. When a granted wish goes wrong, a curse is placed on her: the next tear she sheds will kill her. She needs to journey to the Well and break the curse before it claims her life–and before the king’s militairen track her down. But in order to survive the journey, she must harden her heart to keep herself from crying even a single tear.
He can stop time with a snap of his fingers.
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 and capture the Wishtress and deliver her to the schloss. But Bastiaan needs a wish of his own. When he locates Myrthe, he agrees to take her to the Well in exchange for a wish. Once she’s fulfilled her end of the deal, he’ll turn her in. As long as his growing feelings for the girl with a stone heart don’t compromise his job.
They are on a journey that can only end one way: with her death.
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 even betray her for it. No one knows that to grant even one of them, Myrthe would have to die. And if she tells them about her curse . . . they’ll just kill her anyway.
Wishtress gives the Out of Time series a run for their money as my favorite Brandes story. Though, to be honest, I had some trouble with Myrthe as a narrator for the first third of the book or so. As a character, she was well-done. I didn’t find her too annoying, and her struggles felt realistic. It was her relationships that really gave me difficulty, and especially her relationship with Sven at the very beginning. Her impression of certain side characters—Sven most notably, and later Anouk—didn’t always line up with the impression I got of those characters from their actual behavior, so there were times Myrthe almost felt like an unreliable narrator. Eventually things smoothed out and what Myrthe had been saying became more evident, but it felt like she was too far ahead of how the characters were actually behaving and we didn’t get to see what she saw until later than I would have liked.
Aside from that, the characters were all excellent. Bastiaan and Runt were both amazing. Anouk was great (and her story! It was done so well and handled so honestly and tactfully and I give huge props to Nadine for tackling the topic she tackled in such a graceful manner). Coralythe was really interesting, with her different facets. Sven’s arc was well-done. And most of the relationships were done well, also. Oma and Myrthe’s relationship felt realistic from start-to-finish. Bastiaan and Runt’s relationship was the best (brotherly vibes are my favorite). Anouk and Runt were super sweet. Bastiaan and Myrthe worked… almost surprisingly well together, and the way they handled disagreements—especially on Bastiaan’s part—was so refreshing! Honestly, Bastiaan in general, with his struggles and his growth and how he took care of Myrthe and Runt and handled things with antagonists and everything… He was just a fantastic character and I really, really enjoyed reading about him and seeing inside his head.
The world and the themes… Where do I start with this. First of all, I love when worlds are intrinsically tied to story themes, and vice versa, and Wishtress was amazing in that department. The world had only a couple of really unique/memorable elements—the climate with the ice skating that came of that, and the Wells—but it worked well to really highlight those elements and let the rest of the world serve as a backdrop that didn’t distract from the key themes and plot and all of that. (I’m not usually one for worldbuilding as a backdrop to any degree, but that’s the right way to make use of more generic worldbuilding elements.) But then the Wells. And the allegory thereof. And the way The Well was written. And the battle, both shown and left behind (if you read the book, hopefully that wording will make sense). It was so well-done. I don’t even know what to say more specifically, because it was just so well-done all-around. Though I can say that Bastiaan’s climax scene was powerful, and the “resolution” of the main plot was such an interesting way of handling things and such an interesting allegory (that I’m not sure I 100% agree with, but I can certainly 100% appreciate).
And then the ending. I stopped, stared, and then laughed out loud as I turned the page to see the first line of the acknowledgements: “To every reader who just turned the last page and either hates me, loves me, or vacillates between the two…” (I was definitely in that last camp. XD) Anyway. You have to read it to see what I mean, but it was very well-done.
Overall, Wishtress was amazing! It comes out September 13th, but you should definitely go ahead and pre-order it! It’s fantastic and you’ll definitely want to read it ASAP.
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Have you read any of Nadine Brandes’ books? Are you planning to read Wishtress? Or, if you’re one of the lucky few who has gotten to read it already, what did you think? Comment down below!