Author: C.J. Redwine
Genre: fantasy, retelling
Series: Ravenspire #2
Published: expected February 14 2017
Source: publishers via edelweiss
An epic fantasy inspired by the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale, about a bastard princess who must take on an evil fae to save her brother’s soul, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Shadow Queen.
The world has turned upside down for Thad and Ari Glavan, the bastard twins of Súndraille’s king. Their mother was murdered. The royal family died mysteriously. And now Thad sits on the throne of a kingdom whose streets are suddenly overrun with violence that he can’t stop.
Growing up ignored by the nobility, Ari never wanted to be a proper princess. And when Thad suddenly starts training Ari to take his place, she realizes that her brother’s ascension to the throne wasn’t fate. It was the work of a Wish Granter named Alistair Teague, who tricked Thad into wishing away both the safety of his people and his soul in exchange for the crown.
So Ari recruits the help of Thad’s enigmatic new weapons master, Sebastian Vaughn, to teach her how to fight Teague. With secret ties to Teague’s criminal empire, Sebastian might just hold the key to discovering Alistair’s weaknesses, saving Ari’s brother—and herself.
But Teague is ruthless and more than ready to destroy anyone who dares stand in his way—and now he has his sights set on the princess. And if Ari can’t outwit him, she’ll lose Sebastian, her brother...and her soul.
Just when I thought I was out with this series -- I had some ...issues... with The Shadow Queen last year -- C.J. Redwine pulls me back in with a dark retelling of Rumpelstiltskin for a sequel. More mature and more ambitious than its predecessor, Rumelstiltskin's retelling is more alike Grimm's original fairy tales than a Disney version. It's amusing that The Shadow Queen has a better cover and gets more attention than The Wish Granter, because it's the latter that has a far better, more inventive storyline. By moving her series to a new Kingdom and adding a new set of unique characters, Redwine has ample opportunities for her fantasy to be creative and takes full advantage of that fact.
One of the best things about the newest novel in the Ravenspire series is the strong, enduring bond between the main character Ari and her older brother Thad. Ari is a fantastic main character on her own, but it is their sibling relationship is what anchors and propels the story. It is what sets the main plot in motion and also gives The Wish Granter some genuine pathos. Royal bastards, isolated and judged by their father's Court, they have always been outsiders and feel the same even when Thad reluctantly finds himself on the throne of Sundraille. More than anything, these two teens want to protect each other and spend nearly the entire novel trying to find new ways to do so from all manner of threats. Thad is bit less defined than his sister due to his more regulated role, but Ari's genuine love for her brother is infectious and genuine.
The secondary characters of the story and Ari's world, including the antagonist of "Teague", are similarly well-drawn, if given far less time to develop into realistic personalities. This is third novel I have read by this author but it is first time I have genuinely cared about her characters or have shipped the main ship. The love interest of Sebastian is particularly three-dimensional, if not exactly outside of a genre stereotype in both his past and in his new job. One of the reasons I finally engaged with the romantic relationship is because the author allows it room to grow and evolve naturally. Ari and Sebastian are friends first and their bond gradually deepens over the course of The Wish Granter, instead of just appearing out of nowhere. It's as refreshing as Ari's deep and abiding love for food.
Intense and interesting, The Wish Granter is a solid 3.5/5 star fantasy novel and an fun adaptation of a favorite fairy tale. Though a tad too overlong at 430+ pages and a tad too easily concluded, it's the best the Ravenspire has to offer as of yet. It builds on the worldbuilding from book one and introduces new kinds of magic and monster for the heroines to contend with. A clever antagonist, smart plotting and memorable characters make it also the best of Redwine's bibliography so far.