Wishtress by Nadine Brandes

wishtress_by_nadine_brandes_book_reviewBy Leigh DeLozier (@cleanfictionre2 and @lbdelozier)

Tears. Wishes. Talents. Banes.

They know her tears grant wishes — and everyone has a wish. What they don’t know is that her next tear will end her life.

Back cover copy:

She didn’t ask to be the Wishtress.

Myrthe was born with the ability to turn her tears into wishes. But 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. 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 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.

My review of Wishtress:

Sometimes you wait to read a book because you know you won’t want to put it down once you begin. Wishtress was one of those books for me, and waiting for a mostly uninterrupted weekend was the only reason it stayed on my shelf for almost five months before I stepped into the world of Myrthe and Bastiaan. It was well, well worth the wait.

Nadine Brandes has an amazing way of weaving fantasy and faith into an absolutely believable story you see yourself in.

Myrthe has the most amazing Talent anyone can receive, yet isn’t able to enjoy or fully appreciate it because of how other people treat her. So many of her emotional and physical struggles will resonate with readers: realizing her self-worth, harboring regret over things done and not done, shouldering responsibilities no one else understands, struggling with who everyone else wants her to be versus who she knows she could be.

Meanwhile, Bastiaan has his own obstacles to conquer. His immense thirst for knowledge has taken him great places, but sometimes he and those he loves must pay a price for his quest. His heart is in the right place, but he can be so wrapped up in his convictions that he needs other people to help open his eyes. Many things about Bastiaan’s journey are relatable, too.

Every character supports the story and brings more layers to explore. How often do we see a person as their talent or occupation instead of who they are beyond that? How much clarity and wisdom can we gain from a child? How can we be more compassionate toward someone’s hidden pain? The things to ponder go on and on.

Faith elements in Wishtress:

Multiple aspects of Wishtress connect with faith, from Talents and Banes representing good gifts and sin, to the moral struggles characters face, to surrendering yourself and finding redemption. The representations were as plentiful as in classics such as The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Readers could easily pick up on new connections to their own faith each time they read Wishtress, yet none of it is preachy and all of it makes perfect sense in the story world Brandes has built.

Who should read Wishtress:

Wishtress is categorized as young adult fantasy, and certainly is. But the characters and plot, allegory, layers and stellar writing make it appropriate for a much wider audience. It’s a great story to enjoy as a reader, but also is a great one to study from a creative writing perspective and as a jump start to faith related discussions (homeschool parents, are you listening?).

My bottom line: Wishtress by Nadine Brandes

I can’t say enough good things about Wishtress. There are so many threads that come together to create a beautiful story, yet Wishtress is so much more. Many readers might enjoy the surface-level story, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But for readers who want to go deeper, there are multiple layers to think through and apply personally. I don’t often reread books, but can absolutely see myself reading Wishtress again and enjoying it just as much (or more). If you enjoy fantasy and allegory, run — don’t walk — to your favorite book seller and buy Wishtress. You’ll be glad you did.

Plus: You might also want to read my review of Romanov, another great book by Nadine Brandes.

Book details: Wishtress

Author: Nadine Brandes

Genre: Young adult fantasy

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Publish date: September 2022

Tears. Wishes. Talents. Banes. They know her tears grant wishes. They don’t know her next tear will end her life.
Wishtress by @nadinebrandes is a YA fantasy & so much more. #bookreview #iloveya #cleanfiction

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