Series: Of Metal and Wishes #1
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on August 5, 2014
Genres: fantasy, Steampunk, young adult
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.
If you were to want to read a historical young adult fantasy that includes steampunk elements and a forbidden romance, than Of Metal and Wishes might be the read for you. In addition it has a feel of being set in an Asian country and this brings an element of diversity, which I myself appreciated. On top of all of that there’s some twists and turns that make the story unpredictable and unputdownable.
Wen is a strong and reliable character, thinking of the best in everyone, pushing aside her own wants and needs to help those in need. She opens her eyes to the reality around her, not allowing herself to be blinded by the words of her so-called friends. She relies only on her own eyes and own experiences, judging only once she gets to know someone. It does not start that way initially though, in the very start Wen is caught up in the misconceptions and lies that everyone else is, sure that what she’s been told is truth. It’s not long before she knows this is not all truth and allows her own true feelings and emotions to take over. Working with her father, the factory’s doctor, allows her access to much more than the average woman of that time and place would have.
The love almost became insta-love. That whole googly eyes straight away made me frown, but the romance turns around as it slowly draws out and they get to know each other through a series of illnesses and injuries that bring them together time and time again. In the meantime there’s another man, or ghost, that occupies Wen’s time, and thoughts. There’s a lot of mystery concerning him, but do not fret, this is not a love triangle. It’s clear who Wen has her sites set on, and no drama from a ghost is going to change that.
The novel has a historical fantasy feel as we don’t really know where they are. It is a made up place but has strong Asian influence. Whether the author set it based on a particular country, I’m not sure. I did see parallels to China though as the country provides a lot of products to other countries. They have many, many factories and the workers are underpaid, overworked and very poorly treated. I wished that we had learned more about this world and look forward to receiving more information in the future books.
Mystery, romance, tension and so much more, Of Metal and Wishes is certainly worth a look. It was a quick read that I found myself wanting to read in one sitting, something I’ve had trouble with in recent reads.