Thursday, November 26, 2015

Review: Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine

Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine
Series: Of Metal and Wishes #1
Published: August 5th, 2014
Publisher: Margaret K McKelderry Books
321 pages (ebook)
Genre: Young Adult Steampunk/horror
Acquired this book: From the Ontario Library Service
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Chapters/Indigo}

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.

When I heard about Of Metal and Wishes, my first thought was ‘A steampunk retelling of Phantom of the Opera? Yes please!’ Sarah Fine took a classic story that many people know and put a wonderfully original spin on it. It was everything you’d expect from a Phantom retelling - haunting, beautiful, bittersweet - but it was also so much more than that. Fine created a world that was fascinating, horrifying, and different from anything I’ve ever read.

Everything in Of Metal and Wishes leaped right off the page for me, from the setting to the characters. I could picture the slaughterhouse, Wen’s living quarters and her dad’s clinic, the Noor’s dorms, the underbelly of the slaughterhouse where the Ghost lived. It was all very vivid and real. The characters were the same - Wen was a great main character; I liked how strong and resilient she was. Her curiosity of Melik turned into friendship and then a slow burning romance that was easy to root for. They had so many obstacles to overcome. I appreciated that the romance wasn’t the main focus of the book, and that Wen wasn’t a damsel in distress who needed Melik - or anyone else - to save her.

Just like with Phantom of the Opera’s ‘Phantom’, I had a soft spot for ‘the Ghost’ in Of Metal and Wishes. His story was tragic in so many ways. He was lonely, but his brilliant mind and creativity kept him busy...while also getting him into trouble. Once he set his intentions on Wen, he was single-minded in getting what he wanted, even if it meant leaving a wave of death and destruction in his path. I knew I shouldn’t sympathize with him, but I did because of the things that had happened to him.

I loved how diverse the characters were. Wen’s people were the Itanyai, and Melik’s were the Noor - different cultures, different languages, different customs, different skin colours. It’s a timeless theme, and the author handled it really well without ever coming across preachy or like she was trying to make some huge point. The book was set in a completely different world than ours, and yet it reflected our society, and not only our current society. It showed how prejudice, misunderstandings, fear, and mob mentality can have disastrous consequences. Considering I read it during the terror attacks on Paris and the Syrian refugee crisis, it was especially poignant.

Of Metal and Wishes is beautiful, gruesome, heartbreaking, and unique. I’ve been obsessed with Phantom of the Opera since I was little, and I love how this book took a familiar premise and turned it into something that felt completely, brilliantly original. I’m excited to read the sequel, Of Dreams and Rust, and see what happens to Wen next.

“He is human, he is a boy, he is evil and good fused together. My Ghost. My rescuer. My enemy, my friend.” ~ 88%

Have you read Of Metal and Wishes? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Do you have a favourite retelling? Let's talk here or on Twitter!

1 comment:

  1. Ooooo! I haven't heard of this one! I'll have to check it out.


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