Monday, August 11, 2014

Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine

Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine
Release Date - August 5, 2014
Publisher Website - Simon and Schuster
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  320 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received in exchange for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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.
Only two things were needed for me to pick up this novel. First, the fact that it was Phantom of the Opera inspired and secondly, that it was set in a slaughterhouse. Sarah Fine offers up a brilliant take on the Phantom tale. One with all the heartbreak, sadness, despair, romance, and emotions of the original while breathing fresh life into it.

This was my first experience with Sarah Fine's writing, and I found it to be immensely enjoyable. Atmospheric with a nice balance between action and descriptions. The world of the slaughterhouse and the surrounding areas easily came to life through her words. The strength in her writing is decidedly in creating a world for her characters to inhabit, but her characters are also quite developed. Attention to both created an overall  rich story and experience.

The unhidden animosity that exists between the original factory workers, and the newly arrived Noor workers provides for a tense atmosphere. This combined with the myth of the Ghost, and the brutal accidents that begin to happen, create a perfect powder keg waiting to explode. The already taunt tension increases rapidly, and the novel keeps pace throughout. It's quieter moments are welcome relief from the increasing pressure, and woven in to keep the pacing steady throughout

From Wen's complicated relationship with her father, her friendships, and the blossoming romance(s) Sarah Fine reflects light on the workings of human emotions, and how unpredictable they are. Our capability to feel many things all at once (and sometimes toward the same person) is breathlessly shown. It makes the characters more complex and breathes life into them as well as the story.

The character of Raoul had always been underdeveloped to me. Each adaptation felt like his character was the weakest link. Sarah Fine takes this character and infuses him with a complex, layered personality. It's clear why Wen would be pulled to Melik. It's just as clear what would draw her to the Ghost. This allowed for richer emotions, and higher stakes because you become invested in both the Raoul and Phantom characters in this story. It was refreshing to see equal importance given to all the characters in this retelling. 

No story like this would be complete without the heartache that comes with it. While this did not devastate me, there was a sadness. It also hints at more heartbreak to come in the second installment. This novel works as a stand alone for the most part, but the hints at the further continuation of the story left me excited. It's a world I will gladly come back to, and characters whom I look forward to reuniting with.

A painfully beautiful story that builds from the lore that inspired it in surprising, and pleasing ways. Fans of Phantom of the Opera will delight in the parallels while marveling at how the author made it her own.

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