Instead of Three Wishes by Megan Whalen Turner
|Image from Goodreads|
The first time I've heard of Megan Whalen Turner is through Chachic of Chachic's Book Nook. If you follow/frequent her blog, you'd know that she is a huge fan of Whalen's The Thief Series. Being a fantasy fan myself, I've put in The Thief in my (very long) book wish list. Since, I haven't really gotten around acquiring The Thief just yet, when I saw her name on this book I thought it would be a good chance for me to get acquainted with Whalen's writing style.
Instead of Three Wishes contains seven short stories, all depicting the existence of magic in everyday lives.
1. Plague of Leprechaun - Tells the story of how a small idyllic town of North Twicking is shaken up by the news of a Leprechaun Sighting, bringing in an influx of tourists coveting the bag of gold that a leprechaun brings. All this chaos proves to be too much for Mag Malleaster, the local innkeeper, and to Roger Otterly, a struggling painter commissioned to come up with a couple of artworks of pastoral scenes.
Thoughts: I wasn't quite taken by this story. I felt that the leprechaun could have had a much bigger role. I like my Leprechauns to be more troublesome and mischievous. It could have been a source of hilarious antics and more witty lines.
2. Leroy Roachbane - A boy who has grown tired of his African heritage dreams of his Swedish Ancestry instead and for some unexplained reason, gets whisked back into prehistoric Sweden where he lived up to his name as the bane of the roaches.
Thoughts: It's quite funny how Megan Whalen Turner could turn something as mundane a task as roach killing into a delightful story of fantasy and heroism. I like Leroy as a character. He's just so full of confidence and never did balk at being in a strange land. it's amazing how he was able to make things work for him instead of against him.
3. Factory - A story of a factory worker who meets and befriends a bookish ghost whose house used to stand where the factory now sits.
Thoughts: This is perhaps the darkest story among the seven. Tones of melancholy and sadness is felt through the story but tempered with the love and joy experienced by the two characters. The ending was quite bittersweet.
4. Aunt Charlotte and the Nga Portraits - Aunt Charlotte's childhood story of how she met a magical stranger who trained her with puzzles in order to prepare her for a task of finding a magical fur coat inside a painting of Venice.
Thoughts: I tagged this story as the mystery story in the bunch. A magical stranger, puzzles, a task involving a magical coat who holds an importance to the aforementioned stranger, all to keep the readers in a shroud of mystery. And you can never go wrong with a trip inside a painting, where she meets a bunch of unique characters and another mysterious stranger who happens to posses the magical coat. It even ends with the "was it real or not?" conundrum.
5. Instead of Three Wishes - When a girl named Selene happens to help a man cross the street, that man, turned out to be an elf prince, who offered the former three wishes in return. But, Selene who has read all about wishes backfiring and going bad, refused to accept them to the bewilderment of the elf prince who would stop at nothing to make sure that he would owe Selene nothing.
Thoughts: I know why they made this the cover title. It is perhaps my favorite among the seven. The hilarity of the things that appear on Selene's doorstep, sent of course by the elf prince in the hopes that it would put him out of the girl's debt was a riotous read. But Selene refused one after the other so Mechmel, the elf prince decided to go under cover to find out what was it that Selene truly wanted. As to whether he succeeded or not, I will leave that for you to discover.
6. The Nightmare - A story about a bully named Kevin who after hassling an old lady on the street began to have nightmares. The nightmare consists of seeing himself through the eyes of others particularly his victims.
Thoughts: If there is a "mystery story" in the bunch, this one is undoubtedly classified as the "horror story". Haunting image of snakes with mirrors in their jaws allowing you to not only see but feel the terror that you impose on others. It effectively drives the point of how would it be like when the shoe is on the other foot or how you shouldn't do to others what you wouldn't want done onto you.
7. The Baker King - Takes place in an island kingdom of Monevassia who has been running without a king for nine years save for the royal council, who upon threat of invasion from Spiro The Unpopular, must now decide whether to elect a new king or search for the rightful heir in the person of the crown prince. The said prince has apparently been missing for years. One councilor decides to take matter into his own hands by cooking up a scheme of passing up an apprentice baker as the long lost prince more for his advantage of having a puppet king under his control than to ward off the possible invasion of a foreigner.
Thoughts: This story is a fun read as well. I love the dynamic between Orvis, the councilor and Nelle, the apprentice baker with the former thinking he was smart enough to fool the latter, the royal council, and the rest of the kingdom. Orvis may have been crafty but Nelle was craftier. But did Orvis' plan of deception work? You'll have to read it to find out.
All in all this was a good fractured fairy tales book from Megan Whalen Turner and I'll definitely bump up The Thief on my wish list.