Format: Hardcover, 321 pages
Release Date: August 5, 2015
Publisher: Margaret K McElderry Books
Genre: Young Adult, Steampunk, Retelling
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.
Of Metal and Wishes is the first installment in the Of Metal and Wishes series by Sarah Fine. Sixteen-year-old Wen, an Itanyai, assists her father in his medical clinic at the local slaughterhouse. Wen and her family were once high class society, until her mother passed away, and was sent to live with her father at the factory. Wen has heard about a ghost that supposedly grants wishes to those who leave offerings to him. Wen doesn't believe in the superstition that everyone else seems to, including her so called friends.
That is until a Noor boy grabs her and tries to peek under her skirts. Wen challenges said ghost by asking HIM to prove that he is all mighty and powerful. Viola! Boy suddenly finds himself in deep kimchee, and is barely hanging on to survival. This leads a disheartened Wen to seek out said ghost, which leads to some brilliant steampunk spiders, and other creations that the boy has created to protect himself from being found out. Wen's entire identity changes after the Noor boy is hurt.
She tries to make up for her wish by spending a whole lot of time with the Noors, especially when a vile plague rocks their living quarters and she finds out how awful the Noor are being treated. Noor leader Malik and his people face all sorts of injustices and prejudices that give readers a bit of a pause. We know, if we pay attention to the news, that third world countries like China, and India, barely pay their workers a living wage but their leaders live in the lap of luxury. Can you imagine living on such low wages here?
This also leads to me saying that the feeling of a three-way triangle was definitely apparent, and didn't at all make me happy. Ghost boy is the third pat of the triangle. He has definite feelings for Wen who he can freely talk to without worrying about anyone finding out who he is. Ghost boy is so fierce in his feelings, that he does some pretty horrific things to help her. Ghost boy does have some serious skills however, and has been hiding for almost 7 years with only Wen's father knowing of his existence.
Dislikes: Wen is constantly under threats of rape from a variety of men, including her boss, and other sick, twisted individuals. Again, Rape in novels is NOT necessary to drive home your point of view that things in this setting are not all that easy for a young lady alone and without a man to protect her. I get it. I really do. Can you find another way or expressing this instead of using rape?
Overall: Of Metal and Wishes is a retelling of Phantom of the Opera. A ghost that grants wishes, but also has a surprisingly amazing gift for creating spider like creatures. With the Asian cast, it gives the book a bit of a diverse feeling to it. Story apparently takes place in China which I apparently missed somehow. Perhaps there could have been more world building by author Fine. Perhaps the sequel, Of Dreams and Rust, will explain more about the world, and what really happened between the Noor and Itanyai.