Thoughtfully Representative of Hope and Wonder | Review of ‘The Wishing Heart’

By Cynthia Ayala

The Wishing Heart by J.C. Welker
Entangled Teen
Image Credit: Goodreads

With a book in her bag and a switchblade in her pocket, Rebel’s been thieving her way through life while hoping for a cure to fix her ailing heart. But when the bejeweled vase she just tried to hawk turns out to be a jinni’s vessel, Rebel gets lost to her world and dragged within another. Now every magical being in the city wants the vase for himself. Thrust into a game of cat and mouse in a world she never knew existed, Rebel must use her uncanny skills to find a way to free Anjeline the Wishmaker. But wishes have consequences. And contracts. Anjeline’s freedom could unravel a love like Rebel has never known, or it could come at the cost of Rebel’s heart… ” —Goodreads

Published May 1, 2017, by Entangled Teen, The Wishing Heart
by J.C. Welker is a young adult fantasy about wishes and finding a home where one least expects to.

I love a good story about Djinn. Djinn, Jinn, or Genie as most refer to them, aren’t usually a topic of exploration in literature. They most certainly exist but not to the extent that other fantastical beings exist. But these are creatures of power, connected to religion so bringing them to life does require some careful consideration, mainly because it has to come off as believable. And Welker does just that. She brings to life Anjeline, and with it her angst, her anger at having so much power but also being caged and used at the whim of others. As powerful as she is, she is also powerless. Anjeline puts it perfectly as she refers to herself as “a caged bird.” This is certainly a cliched line, but it’s used so powerfully, so emotionally, making it the perfect phrase to capture how she’s feeling.

Anjeline is just such a great character. She’s unique, fun, snarky, and truly beautiful, from her narrative to her personality. Welker worked hard to bring this character to life with such believability, and it really showed. Then there is Rebel. Rebel is a thief, not unlike most thieves. She only steals from those who can afford it, giving herself some moral high ground. But what’s really striking about her is her heart problem. She has a goal to save herself, but she also has a goal of finding a home, a place where she belongs. There is such a strong sense of longing in the novel that anyone who has ever felt lost can relate to. Anjeline and Rebel both just want a home, they seek something to fill in the longing in their hearts, a place to call home.

As a pair, they have great chemistry with one another, and the fact that the author just goes about their relationship without labels is very powerful regarding representation. The author takes that as an opportunity to showcase the attraction between the characters without stigma. She explores their feelings for one another through their individual narratives as well as how the other makes them feel. But again, this is without labels, it is without explanation, and that’s how it should be. That’s possibly what makes the novel so moving, other than their longing for a home, because it’s so real, it’s relatable, and it’s thoughtfully executed.

I will say this however, it does seem like a long book. At only 370 pages, it seems to drone on at times. There are times where the pace is so slow one almost feels like they have r=been reading for ages. It almost wants to make the reader put down the novel, if not for the captivating characters, some might. And if you read enough fiction, some of the aspects of the novel are predictable, leading the reader to exclaim, “I knew it!” halfway through the novel. That’s not, in any way, the fault of the reader, but if you read enough, some of those tropes regarding a search or long-lost relative, across genres, follow such a similar formula that it just becomes predictable to a well-read reader. Overall though, it’s a thoughtful novel with magic, wonder, and hope, all rolled up in a brilliant tale. ( | B+)

Product Details:

Pub Date: May 1, 2017

Page count: 370pp

Age Range: 12 & Over

ISBN: 978-1-5452-8737-8

Publisher: Entangled Teen

List Price:  $19.99

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