Review: Wishtress by Nadine Brandes

Wishtress by Nadine Brandes

Nadine Brandes
Thomas Nelson
Published September 13, 2022

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About Wishtress

She didn’t ask to be the Wishtress.

Myrthe was born with the ability to turn her tears into wishes. It’s a big secret to keep. When a granted wish goes wrong, a curse is placed on her: the next tear she sheds will kill her. She needs to journey to the Well and break the curse before it claims her life–and before the king’s militairen track her down. But in order to survive the journey, she must harden her heart to keep herself from crying even a single tear.

He can stop time with a snap of his fingers.

Bastiaan’s powerful–and rare–Talent came in handy when he kidnapped the old king. Now the new king has a job for him: find and capture the Wishtress and deliver her to the schloss. But Bastiaan needs a wish of his own. When he locates Myrthe, he agrees to take her to the Well in exchange for a wish. Once she’s fulfilled her end of the deal, he’ll turn her in. As long as his growing feelings for the girl with a stone heart don’t compromise his job.

They are on a journey that can only end one way: with her death.

Everyone seems to need a wish–the king, Myrthe’s cousin, the boy she thinks she loves. And they’re ready to bully, beg, and even betray her for it. No one knows that to grant even one of them, Myrthe would have to die. And if she tells them about her curse . . . they’ll just kill her anyway.

Wishtress on Goodreads

My Review

I remember that I really enjoyed ROMANOV by Nadine Brandes, so when I saw that she had a new book coming out, I wanted to read it. I really liked the way that she incorporated magic into her version of the story about Anastasia Romanov and her family.

The magic system and its origins also proved to be something I enjoyed in WISHTRESS. Basically, there are two possible sources of magic in the book. The Well can only be approached through completing four dangerous trials and may or may not grant a Talent or magical ability. And the Nightwell can be much more easily approached. Submerging oneself in the Nightwell guarantees that you’ll receive a Bane, a destructive magical ability such as poisonous blood or the ability to curse others.

The initial idea was that the trials would protect the Well from access by unworthy applicants, but in reality, it keeps the poor from accessing it. The rich hire warriors to complete the trials so they may approach the Well. Rather than truly being a test of character, the trials become a test of wealth. That metaphor certainly resonated– there are lots of systems touted as being meant to bring fairness but which really only amount to controlling access. And money buys access to a lot of things.

At any rate, some of the tension in the story comes from characters deciding whether they should attempt the trials even with the odds stacked against them or whether they should take a “shortcut” to accessing magic and visit the Nightwell. I liked that dynamic and the way different characters made those decisions and how that worked.

If there’s a place the story was a little thin for me, it was the character relationships. I didn’t understand Myrthe’s interest in Sven. Even to some degree her awe of Bastiaan didn’t resonate with me. Yeah, I liked him, too, but there seemed to be a kind of awe that felt… off? I don’t know if it was that it didn’t feel anchored in her body? Like, I don’t know if I was looking for more reactions to him being close or more of a spark between them? I’m not sure. I guess I didn’t sense a chemistry between them, and I wanted that.

Despite that, I loved the ending, and I want to see where the story goes. I will be on the lookout for the sequel.

Readers who enjoyed MERLIN’S BLADE by Robert Treskillard or UNBREAKABLE by Sara Ella will enjoy this book. I think the story is a little bit more like Brandes’s debut, A TIME TO DIE, so if you’re familiar with that one and liked it, definitely check out WISHTRESS.

Wishtress on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 12 up.

Myrthe is disabled and has difficulty walking after having the pox as a child.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between man and woman.

Spiritual Content
The Well offers Talents (magical abilities) to those to drink from it, and a few others. The Nightwell offers Banes (ability to harm others) to those to submerge themselves in it.

Violent Content
Situations of peril. Battle sequences. Brief scenes showing torture.

Drug Content

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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