Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: 3 March 2020
Tala Warnock has little use for magic – as a descendant of Maria Makiling, the legendary Filipina heroine, she negates spells, often by accident. But her family’s old ties to the country of Avalon (frozen, bespelled, and unreachable for almost 12 years) soon finds them guarding its last prince from those who would use his kingdom’s magic for insidious ends.
And with the rise of dangerous spelltech in the Royal States of America; the appearance of the firebird, Avalon’s deadliest weapon, at her doorstep; and the re-emergence of the Snow Queen, powerful but long thought dead, who wants nothing more than to take the firebird’s magic for her own – Tala’s life is about to get even more complicated…
I received an e-ARC from the author/publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Rin Chupeco’s books. The Girl from the Well never interested me. I hated The Bone Witch the first five times I tried to read it. Then I liked it. I absolutely adored The Heart Forger. I’m scared to read The Shadowglass, because what if it doesn’t live up to my expectations? I really enjoyed The Never Tilting World, and I am eagerly awaiting the sequel. And then there’s this book. This is a hard no from me.
I read three chapters and I couldn’t read any further. I was confused, and annoyed, and disappointed, so I’ll keep this as brief as possible.
Firstly, Wicked as You Wish was way too complicated and lacked coherence. It’s like a giant mash up of a bunch of different fairytales, myths, legends, and literary references from all over the world (Filipino mythology, the Russian firebird, Avalon, The Snow Queen, Wonderland, Oz, Neverland). Sadly, mash ups are apparently not my cup of tea.
There was also a ton of info-dumping, especially in chapter three. The main character (who already knows some of this information) does a web search, and we get to read what she finds in big blocks of italic text! I’ve seen what Chupeco can do, and this was way below the standard I know she’s capable of. It’s like the publishers decided to forego editing, and printed the book as it was a decade ago.
The magic system had potential- it was a synthesis of magic and techonology called Spelltech– but I was unclear how it worked. There were three different levels, and they had something to do with obsidian stones and glyphs, which seemed to be mined or something? Only the lowest level was legal, and that involved weaker artificial glyphs that ran things like mobile phones, and cable tv. But then a few special people had innate magic. And there were nine different types – time, elemental/kinetic, death magic, transfiguration, summoning, healing, divination, conjuration, enchantment, and illusion. It just went on and on. went on and on.
The opening scene involves a gay prince of Avalon (Alexei Tsarevich – *cringe*) kissing a boy and turning him into a frog, and then kissing the main character, Tala, so she can prove she cancels out magic and that she’s immune. It just didn’t really sit right with me, but I can’t put my finger exactly on why.
I also found that the dialogue was clunky and confusing. I didn’t know who was talking when more than two characters were in a scene. I think that it was also meant to be funny, but I was too busy going ‘Huh, who the hell is talking? What on earth is happening?’ to enjoy what was supposed to be witty banter.
I understand that this book was really special to Chupeco. She wrote it and tried to get it published back in 2010. But sometimes, your trunk novel should really stay in that trunk.
I didn’t read enough to truly give an objective review, but I read enough to know that this was not the book for me.