{Review} WICKED AS YOU WISH by Rin Chupeco

Love fairy tales and mythology?
Fans of mermaids, dragons, unicorns, and other mythical creatures?
Enjoy when a beloved classic tale is retold?
A Twist in the Tail Thursdays features all this and more!

O P E N I N G   L I N E:

  JUST OUTSIDE ASPEN, Colorado, nestled between the sentinel mountains and an inkblot lake, lies St. Rosetta's International Academy. Its sweeping spires, creeping ivy, and timeworn brick turrets often lead visitors to remark that it looks like a venerable castle from an old European city. The Academy would be Princess Jaya Rao's home for the next year. 
  While she was there, Jaya had one mission: break an English nobleman's heart. 
  But first she had to fall in love with him.

(pg. 1, US hardcover edition)

First, do no harm; 

King thou may be, 

Thy divine right to magic 

Is no cause to be 

As wicked as you wish.


Do you ever see a book and say, "This one. This is the book I need!" WICKED AS YOU WISH has been one of my 2020 most anticipated titles and I couldn't wait to get my mitts on it and dive right in. I didn't know quite what to expect, but I was ready for the story to sweep me away.

Long before WICKED AS YOU WISH begins, there is a devastating war. The Snow Queen is now dead and the Kingdom of Avalon is no longer functioning, its king and queen dead and their son in hiding. Because of the war, magic has been banned save for Spelltech. The novel begins in a town with no magic, and centers around a girl named Tala who comes from a family where instead of having magic, they negate it. She constantly practices how to break spells, not make them. One of her best friends is Alexei, the heir of Avalon, who lives in hiding next door. On Alexei's birthday, he is visited by the Firebird of legend, securing his future as heir, but also showcasing his location to enemies long thought dead. The Firebird's presence begins the adventure of a lifetime, and seeks to right all the wrongs of the past -- if this team of powerful teenagers can come together and survive.

One thing that really endears a world to me is when they throw in Easter eggs featuring my beloved fairy tales and myths and folklore. They're still original stories, but they have familiar elements being used in new, creative ways that bring a smile to my face. I loved the way Rin Chupeco used these elements to build a world, from the Nine Maidens who protect Avalon to characters of lore turned into important people such as the Cheshire to creatures of lore such as firebirds. I love seeing items and characters and places used in such creative ways, and it really endears a book to me, so WICKED AS YOU WISH and I got along in that regard from the onset. I loved each new reveal and the way it layered into society -- there are so many creative ideas that really build the world! Plus, I love that the novel centers around a Filipino family and adds even more culture and lore to the world.

Another stand-out element to me was the way you knew it was a Rin Chupeco book just because of the way she frames her battles and monsters. The author has stated repeatedly that this book is very different from her others, which are full of monsters and different sorts of madness and horror. I was watching Howl's Moving Castle for the umpteenth time the other day, and I would say the monsters remind me of some of the horrors from Miyazaki films, strange and frightening, yet intriguing, too. There is a scene early on with a firebird and evil creatures trying to destroy it, and having recently read Rin Chupeco's THE NEVER TILTING WORLD, her writing style from that book was still very fresh in my mind and I liked how she found away to bring her trademark writing style to this world that was so different for her, and think her long-time fans won't be disappointed in the least!

One aspect of the novel I didn't like so much is completely a "me" thing and won't bother a lot of people. For me, it's always harder to get into a book or a TV show or a movie when it jumps from event to event to event, especially when the cast is larger. For example, much as I like to watch all of the Marvel movies at least once, I don't own a lot of them because many are lighter on story and heavier on action, or something like an Avengers ensemble movie, where all the characters from all the movies come together to bring down a Big Bad, and they all need to be a counterpoint of the movie, which leaves less room for fuller story, if that makes sense? I sometimes have issues with quest books and movies, too, because it's just one point after another. WICKED AS YOU WISH ensembles a team of teenagers, who all get turns having plot points. It is a fantastic, diverse group and we need more characters like these in YA. But they also started to blend for me and I had to flip back and remember who had what powers and what their purpose was because we were just going from this happens to that happens and things happened too fast for me to be able to really cement everyone in my mind the way I like to. I don't know if I am explaining my head very well here, especially since, like I said, it isn't something that stands out to everyone. Other books I can think of where this happened to me as a reader are SPELLED by Betsy Schow and THE 13th SIGN by Kristin O'Donnell Tubb. It's one of those books where the adventure is so full that readers constantly go from one event straight into the next and then the next and then the next. A lot of readers love a book like that, but it's harder for me to get into, so at times, I will admit that I was skimming to the next section, which also didn't help when it came to cementing characters in my mind. *hides*

For me, this book was a mixed bag. There were elements I loved, and elements I struggled with. I wanted to love this book so much, and I was intrigued immediately by all of the cool world-building designed from elements of lore, but struggled with an element that has never worked for me. I kept wavering between wanting to finish and see more of this world, and wanting to put it down, so I read it more slowly, in chunks, and read something else in between those segments. I think this is a book where you'll have to make up your mind for yourself because you very well might fall in love with it in the way I wish I had!

C O V E R   D E S I G N:

I just stare at this cover and stare at it some more. There is something to look at in every letter, and I swear, you see something new each time you look! Especially after reading, when you can say, "Oh, A represents X and B represents Y and C represents Z, so clever!

It's SUCH a great cover and the typography is SO strong!

O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Rin Chupeco
Release Date: March 3, 2020
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Received: For Review


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.