Content/Trigger Warnings: Bullying, homophobia, minor hate crime, death of a parent, loss of a loved one, grief, talk of doxxing, talk of human trafficking, talk of child abuse, talk of slavery, police brutality, death, murder, anxiety, scenes of graphic violence (with ice wolves and the Snow Queen)
ARC was given by a dear friend.
This review is being published after the release date (March 3rd, 2020)
Many years ago, the magical Kingdom of Avalon was left desolate and encased in ice when the evil Snow Queen waged war on the powerful country. Its former citizens are now refugees in a world mostly devoid of magic. Which is why the crown prince and his protectors are stuck in…Arizona.
Prince Alexei, the sole survivor of the Avalon royal family, is in hiding in a town so boring, magic doesn’t even work there. Few know his secret identity, but his friend Tala is one of them. Tala doesn’t mind—she has secrets of her own. Namely, that she’s a spellbreaker, someone who negates magic.
Then hope for their abandoned homeland reignites when a famous creature of legend, and Avalon’s most powerful weapon, the Firebird, appears for the first time in decades. Alex and Tala unite with a ragtag group of new friends to journey back to Avalon for a showdown that will change the world as they know it.
Fellow readers, I find myself in the minority who have read this book and actually really liked it. I truly enjoyed many elements that this book gives and it was so easy to get sucked into the banter of the characters. And let me just say, if you’re a fan of Once Upon A Time or the graphic novel series, Fables then you’re going to find many elements that you love and enjoy in this book!
Our story follows our main characters Alex, the prince of Avalon, and his best friend Tala Warnock who team up with a group of friends to save Avalon from the forces of the Snow Queen and her relentless ways. Together they will travel through portals, defend against ogres and ice maidens, build their friendships, learn of an ever unfolding prophecy, and face off with the Snow Queen! And of course, with a cheeky firebird tagging along for the ride. Though the journey ahead will be rough, they will stop at nothing to free the kingdom of Avalon.
First thing you should know, there is a lot happening in this book especially in the first couple of chapters in this book. From family shenanigans all the way to trying to fend off ICE agents, the first handful of chapters will be the biggest part many readers might struggle through. This book is set in our modern day world, only with a twist, and you really see a lot of political issues happening in the news today such as addressing treatment of immigrants and subtle nods towards endangered species and poaching. There’s also a lot of references to events in history such as the colonization of the United States. While we have the modern day element, we also see many beloved fairytales and folklore being twisted into the modern day element. I’m talking constant references to Alice in Wonderland, the Cheshire Cat, King Arthur and the sword in the stone, talk of Briar Rose and the sleeping needle, or even Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf are all made as real people only they have a character or plot twist that is different from the many tales we all know them from. And if there’s one thing I’m hoping for, it’s maps in the final copy. I love maps and I think the idea of the author creating her own map to really help give the reader a better world view, not only of Avalon, but all the other realms stated in this book would be really amazing to see!
“Every encounter I’ve ever had with them has been less than cordial. Their objectives are anathema to Avalonian values. We have always opened our arms to the defenseless; it is not their crime to have been born in dangerous places.”
With all of that being said, the world building is thrown into a lot of information dumping which may also hinder a reader’s ability to read this book. My biggest struggle with the world building was understanding how the spelltech worked. Glyphs were also introduced into the world building as well, but that seemed easier to understand compared to spelltech, how spelltach works and what the main purpose of spelltech is supposed to be. There’s also threat level for the magic and spells which I thought was really interesting and that breakdown really puts into perspective how the magic can be handled or used. We also get an introduction to the nine types of magic and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was over excited about that part.
We also have a lot of characters and character introductions in this book. Of course we know about Tala, Tala’s family, and Alex, but we also have the Bandersnatchers group sent to protect Alex and we also have Lola Urduja and the Katipuneros. Every single one of them is unique and brings their own personality to the table. I mostly loved everyone that was introduced especially the Bandersnatches. The banter was fantastic and you really got the sense of a found family among all of them. Throughout the book we learn bits and pieces of them including more bits on Tala’s father, Kay. What I really wanted was more Cole Nottingham, but for now I’m satisfied with the details that slowly unravel. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I wasn’t secretly shipping Cole and Zoe together. They just have an electric connection that I just can’t get over.
However, with every group of characters, there will always be that one jerk who everyone ends up disliking and I hate to say that I really, really disliked Alex. That’s right, the Prince of Avalon is my most disliked character throughout this entire book. In the beginning Alex comes off as very caring and really listens to Tala, but once the firebird comes, he changes completely. Once the group is in Avalon, the entire time Alex is being rude, keeping secrets and giving everyone the cold shoulder, trying to put everyone’s safety (including his) and well being in jeopardy, he constantly lets his anger and frustration get the better of him to the point of him going off on all his travel companions and leaving Tala to clean up the aftermath or apologize in his stead, and so much more! Honestly, he has no redeeming moments and we never once see him actually take the time and effort to truly apologize to everyone.
“I don’t know if his attempts at redemption will ever outweigh his crimes. But I decided in the end he should at least be given the chance to… I think everyone deserves that much.”
And before I forget, the ending of this book… How dare the author give us an ending like that?! The ending of this book was everything that I was hoping for. There was something about it that blew me out of the water. Maybe it was Tala defending her da or maybe it was seeing the firebird and Tala’s connection to one another, or maybe, just maybe the very last page had my eye bulging out of my head and looking around for the next book. Whatever the case, the nail was hit on the head with that ending.
Overall, I am pleasantly surprised with how much I adored this book. I’m not going to lie, I was really nervous on how I was going to feel about this book. The beginning was really rough for me, but despite that, I loved so many elements from this book. I have said this a few times on social media, but this has a lot of vibes of Once Upon A Time and Fables. I definitely recommend checking those out if you really loved a lot of the elements from this book. I can’t wait to see what book two will have waiting for us!
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
Rin Chupeco has written obscure manuals for complicated computer programs, talked people out of their money at event shows, and done many other terrible things. She now writes about ghosts and fantastic worlds but is still sometimes mistaken for a revenant. She is the author of The Girl from the Well, its sequel, The Suffering, and the Bone Witch trilogy.
Despite an unsettling resemblance to Japanese revenants, Rin always maintains her sense of hummus. Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps four pets: a dog, two birds, and a husband. Dances like the neighbors are watching.
PRE-ORDER PROMO 1: If you pre-order WICKED AS YOU WISH on or before March 1, 2020 you will receive a character card of Tala and an enamel Order of the Bandersnatch firebird pin!
PRE-ORDER PROMO 2: From March 3rd – 31st 2020, Rin Chupeco will be hosting an Instagram giveaway for WICKED AS YOU WISH! Just post a photo of the book with the hashtag #PRETTYWICKEDASYOUWISH and every participant will receive book swag (which will only be available during promos and not for the pre-orders)!
GIVEAWAY: The publishing house is offering 4 WICKED AS YOU WISH bundles. Open internationally.
Enter the Giveaway HERE