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May 31, 2023

The Wishing Game by Meg Shaffer ~ a Review

by MK French

Lucy Hart grew up with the Clock Island series by Jack Masterson, finding solace in the books when life was hard. Now she hopes to share that love with seven-year-old Christopher Lamb, who she would love to adopt after the tragic deaths of his parents. Without funds, it's an impossible dream. Jack Masterson announces a new book and a contest on his private island to win the only copy. Winning and selling the manuscript would help her secure a better future, but she isn't the only one who wants it. Lucy is up against ruthless book collectors, wily opponents, and Hugo Reese, illustrator of the Clock Island books and Jack’s only friend. Meanwhile, Jack “the Mastermind” Masterson is plotting the ultimate twist ending that could change all their lives forever.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of women's fiction novel The Wishing Game by Meg Shaffer
May 2023; Ballantine Books; 978-0593598832
audio, ebook, print (304 pages); women's fiction

We meet Lucy immediately and our heart can't help but go out to her. She's a kindergarten teacher's aide living with roommates and doesn't have a car, making her have no chance whatsoever of becoming a foster mother. Anyone who's dealt with the system will know how much it's set against her. The book series had been important for her as a child, and it's a way she bonds with Christopher. She and three other adults are brought to the island; they had all run away and come there as children, so they're considered Jack's special sidekicks, and the only ones he wants to offer the chance of earning his final manuscript. Despite her hardships, Lucy retained her hopeful and good nature, and can still think like a child. Every challenge is full of riddles, and it's not meant to be easy. When we get to the end of the contest, I was in tears, and the ending is such a good one.

The riddles of the challenges definitely force you to think outside the box if you try to play along. So often, as we grow up, our thinking gets more rigid and conforms to society's rules, whether we like it or not. Children still have unbridled creativity because they're not afraid to be wrong, and they don't know that their ideas won't fit. Lucy is still able to put herself out there, push herself when she thinks she's a coward, and stand up for what she believes is right. That's an amazing trait we need to see more of in fiction.

Buy The Wishing Game at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever. 

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