Of Metal and Wishes #1
Paranormal Young Adult
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Source: ARC from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
There are whispers of a ghost in the slaughterhouse where sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic—a ghost who grants wishes to those who need them most. When one of the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor, humiliates Wen, she makes an impulsive wish of her own, and the Ghost grants it. Brutally.
Guilt-ridden, Wen befriends the Noor, including their outspoken leader, a young man named Melik. At the same time, she is lured by the mystery of the Ghost and learns he has been watching her … for a very long time.
As deadly accidents fuel tensions within the factory, Wen must confront her growing feelings for Melik, who is enraged at the sadistic factory bosses and the prejudice faced by his people at the hand of Wen’s, and her need to appease the Ghost, who is determined to protect her against any threat—real or imagined. She must decide whom she can trust, because as her heart is torn, the factory is exploding around her … and she might go down with it.
Of Metal and Wishes is as beautifully haunting as the story on which it’s partly based, a quiet intimacy established between character and reader early on thanks to a world that doesn't extend much beyond the walls of the slaughterhouse. Though the Phantom does his great and terrible things amidst the glittering beauty of a Parisian opera house, the Ghost grants wishes and exacts vengeance within blood spattered walls, the grittiness of the factory workers' existence a dark complement to the deeds of which the Ghost is capable. Through it all though, Ms. Fine weaves threads of hope of the finest nature, small phosphorescent moments that light up the darkness of Gochran One and show us that within the darkest shadows sometimes hide the most beautiful things.
Ms. Fine is an author with an extraordinary ability to craft characters with more layers than we can possibly fully explore in our relatively short forays into their lives, leaving us wanting more without fail while simultaneously satisfying us with what we are able to uncover. The Ghost is one such character, the ease with which he destroys lives on either his own whim or the whims of others a startling contrast to his vulnerability and clear affection for Wen. He is both childlike victim and monstrous villain depending on whether or not he considers you friend or foe, but despite his capacity for violence our hearts still ache for him throughout, tears threatening to spill for all he's lost even as we find ourselves oddly grateful on Wen's behalf for what he's become.
Wen is innocent in a number of ways, but accompanying that innocence is fire and an impressive strength of will that allows her to defiantly stand up in defense of those to whom everyone else would turn a blind eye. Despite growing up with stories of the barbaric Noor, it takes her very little time to shed the prejudice of those around her and realize the Noor are not the heathens she'd been expecting, and she quickly throws herself in their corner even when it's the most dangerous place for her to be. She's intelligent and compassionate, handling her delicate relationship with the Ghost with a maturity far beyond her young years by giving him the respect of her honesty even when it may not be what he wants to hear.
The only very mild complaint with this story is with the world-building, namely in that there isn't much, and we're tossed into life in the slaughterhouse without really knowing much about what exists outside of it. That being said however, being in the figurative dark as to the world beyond the walls painted with the deaths of those who slave away within them allows us to focus all our attention on the characters and the increasingly volatility of their social hierarchy. We're left with things fairly wide open for Wen, the dust from a massive upheaval in her world not yet beginning to settle when we part with her on the last page, but there's comfort in knowing we'll meet up with her again, and when we do our questions about what's in store for her will be answered.
This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.