ARC (Advanced Reader Copy), Fiction

The Wishing Game, by Meg Shaffer

AVAILABLE May 30, 2023

This book was extremely enjoyable! The closest comparison I can give it, of which I’m sure the author would approve, is that it is like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for grownups. In this case, the reclusive genius is world-renowned children’s author, Jack Masterson. But unlike Willy Wonka with his golden tickets, Jack personally selects the “children” to compete for the prize. (I’ll let you discover what that is.)

The children, however, are not children at all. They are adults who grew up reading and immersing themselves in Jack Masterson’s extensive Clock Island series. Sixty six books in all. Books that helped and affected these readers so much during difficult times that all of them, at one point, went seeking their favorite author in person. Most of us can only imagine the thrill of doing such a thing.

The plot mostly revolves around one person in particular. Lucy Hart, a kindergarten teacher’s aide whose greatest wish is to foster and adopt one special little boy, and whose greatest fear is that Life’s obstacles will prevent her from doing so. But if there’s one thing to learn from the Clock Island characters, it’s that “the only wishes ever granted are the wishes of brave children.”

As someone who loved and devoured all of Roald Dahl’s books as a child and is fiercely protective of his legacy, I raised an eyebrow when I realized that The Wishing Game was a bit of a reboot of his most famous story. I didn’t need to worry. It is a lovely homage–faithful to the principles of the original in that kindness, courage, and humility are rewarded, but unique enough that it stands firmly on its own as a terrific read and a worthy addition to any library.

9/10 Stars

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