Warning – possible spoilers! (Tiny ones, though, and I’ll try to avoid even those; I swear I’ll give my best not to ruin it for you… :-))
Wishtress by Nadine Brandes – Book Details
TITLE – Wishtress
AUTHOR – Nadine Brandes
YEAR PUBLISHED – 2022
PAGE COUNT – 464
MY RATING – 4.5 of 5
RATED ON GOODREADS – 4.16 of 5
What It Is About
I’d been so focused on saving my own life, I never considered maybe this curse was going to be my end. And maybe something was worth dying for in order to use my last wish.
Wishtress by Nadine Brandes is a YA fantasy set in a world where a Well of Talents grants magical powers to the deserving ones… But getting to it is practically impossible.
The only exception is Wishtress – a talented born with the power to turn her tears into wishes. Myrthe is this generation’s Wishtress, but she has learned to hide it because so far her powers only led to people trying to use her for their own agendas.
But one day a wish goes terribly wrong, and Myrthe is cursed – the next time she sheds a tear, she will die. Now she has to travel to the Well of Talents, hoping it might have a solution for her. On her way there, she meets mysterious Bastiaan – a Talented who clearly has secrets of his own.
They both have strong motives to get to the Well as soon as possible. But they need to hurry because the new king has his own plans with the Well. And they don’t include allowing the Well to continue to freely share its gifts with the commoners.
Themes and vibes:
- whimsical, wintry, fairytale-like, magical
- a quest element
- a well granting people unique talents and its opposite Nightwell
- friendships, betrayal, lust for power, scheming, terrifying consequences of magic
- special snowflake but done well
- MC with disability
- multiple (3) POVs
Wishtress by Nadine Brandes – My Review
An unfinished sentence— two little words— that prefaced countless dreams, hopes, and desires. Greed, lust, selfishness. It always started with those two words— words I despised almost as much as I despised the thaw.
If this book sounds at all like something you might enjoy, please do give it a chance. Pick it up when you are in the mood for an atmospheric, wintry, fairytale-like fantasy, and I really think you’ll enjoy it a lot. I certainly did.
When I first read the description, Wishtress by Nadine Brandes sounded kind of interesting, but it also sounded like a story that would be hard to pull off well. But a friend who read the arc had nothing but good things to say about it and convinced me to give it a shot.
I don’t know if this book retells any fairytale, but it kind of read as one. The story was set in a magical kingdom where people can get magical powers if they are brave enough to seek them and if their heart is pure enough to deserve them.
And it was just – wholesome. Magical. Atmospheric. Unique and vibrant. Not too gory, but it had its darker moments. Sometimes thrilling, sometimes heartwarming. Always captivating and adorable.
The pacing was slow but steady; it gets you there. And I loved how well balanced the ending was – not a cliffhanger but also not quite wrapped up. It works for a standalone as it gives you a general idea how everything could develop further. But it was also open enough to allow many surprises if the book was made into a series.
Wishtress? I’d heard of her— the most powerful Talented in all of Fairhoven. […] That’s all I’d ever heard of the Wishtress—all anyone could tell me. I couldn’t be the Wishtress. I was poor. Brittle boned. Distraught. I couldn’t even cry until today.
The main character Myrthe is the Wishtress, a powerful Talented whom people admire but also keep trying to use. Basically, her tears can grant wishes. And unlike people who get talents if they deserve them, Myrthe has been born with hers.
Because of that, she often feels inadequate and wonders why such huge power was granted to her. Especially since her dictatorial grandmother made sure to take all control of Myrthe’s wishes, deciding who can get them and how they should be used.
Myrthe also has a disability, a limp left from pox when she was a child, and she is an orphan. All that created a nice balance to the fact she’s one of the most powerful people in the kingdom – yes, she has superpowers, but she still struggles with many things, from daily chores to finding her true self.
Myrthe sometimes feels like her talent is more a burden than a gift. But that changes the day she gets cursed and can no longer use her wishes. In fact, if she lets out even a single tear, she will die.
This created such an interesting dynamic, as it led many people to believe Myrthe was cold hearted and cruel, refusing to help those in need no matter how desperately they needed a wish. The fact she can’t allow herself to sympathize made her seem so vulnerable to me, and made me care for her more than for most other protagonists in other stories.
[…] all of us have the chance of life in our futures. You can’t use your mistake to define who you are. That will destroy who you could be.
And things got even more complicated when Myrthe met Bastiaan and the first sparks started to fly.
Bastiaan is a Talented who got his talent unexpectedly long time ago. However, things went horribly wrong the last time he used his gift, and now he’d do anything to mend the situation and prevent things from getting even worse.
So Bastiaan needs Myrthe, and Myrthe needs Bastiaan to take her to the Well. But neither is telling the full truth, and things start to go… well, as you’d expect them to go.
I wanted to forgive him. Wanted to believe him. But I couldn’t risk trust. Couldn’t risk emotions. Yet if I couldn’t have emotions, was I even fully alive?
What I liked about Wishtress the most were all the layers we got. The world building. The Well that gets to decide who gets a talent. Its opposing Nightwell that gives banes. The politics. The scheming.
But also the friendships and complicated family situations. People showing their true faces at the mere possibility of getting what they want. Loyalty and truly good intentions. Wondering if fate made a mistake when it chose you for great things and fear you’ll never be able to fulfill your potential.
Add to all of that a few truly wholesome characters (Runt was no doubt my favorite), several potential redemption arcs (if the story continues) and a dash of romance. And yet this book never felt overwhelming or hard to follow because too much was going on.
Relief and freedom came in acknowledging and accepting our brokenness. It was okay to be broken as long as we didn’t build a home in it. It was okay to admit it. And to unite with a goal of healing.
Towards the ending, the story did get weaker in some parts. I liked what happened but I thought certain aspects of it could have been executed a bit better. A few things went too well too easily simply because magic, which is one of the biggest no-nos in the fantasy genre. And in fiction in general.
I also didn’t like that some characters were kind of cliché, especially the villains. And there was also the fact that many conflicts could have been resolved instantly simply by talking clearly.
Still. I enjoyed this book a lot. It was a great story overall. And I hope there will be a sequel, because I’d be the first to read it.