A Wish in the Dark
A boy on the run. A girl determined to find him. A compelling fantasy looks at issues of privilege, protest, and justice.All light in Chattana is created by one man — the Governor, who appeared after the Great Fire to bring peace and order to the city. For Pong, who was born in Namwon Prison, the magical lights represent freedom, and he dreams of the day he will be able to walk among them. But when Pong escapes from prison, he realizes that the world outside is no fairer than the one behind bars. The wealthy dine and dance under bright orb light, while the poor toil away in darkness. Worst of all, Pong’s prison tattoo marks him as a fugitive who can never be truly free.Nok, the prison warden’s perfect daughter, is bent on tracking Pong down and restoring her family’s good name. But as Nok hunts Pong through the alleys and canals of Chattana, she uncovers secrets that make her question the truths she has always held dear. Set in a Thai-inspired fantasy world, Christina Soontornvat’s twist on Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables is a dazzling, fast-paced adventure that explores the difference between law and justice — and asks whether one child can shine a light in the dark.

A Wish in the Dark Details

TitleA Wish in the Dark
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMar 24th, 2020
PublisherCandlewick Press
ISBN-139781536211726
Rating
GenreChildrens, Middle Grade, Fantasy, Retellings, Literature, Asian Literature

A Wish in the Dark Review

  • may ➹
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 starsA Wish in the Dark is a Middle Grade fantasy follows two children: Pong, a boy who escapes the prison he was born in, and Nok, the prison wardens daughter who has become a warrior. As Nok tries to track him down, Pong discovers how the rich of Chattana thrive while the poor struggle, and he and his friend Somkit band together to bring justice.Ive said before that I felt like this book was flawless, and I still stand by it. Immediately after I finished it, I remember smiling broadly and 4.5 starsA Wish in the Dark is a Middle Grade fantasy follows two children: Pong, a boy who escapes the prison he was born in, and Nok, the prison warden’s daughter who has become a warrior. As Nok tries to track him down, Pong discovers how the rich of Chattana thrive while the poor struggle, and he and his friend Somkit band together to bring justice.I’ve said before that I felt like this book was flawless, and I still stand by it. Immediately after I finished it, I remember smiling broadly and thinking about how perfect it felt. I kept waiting for some flaws to surface in my mind, because my brain hates positivity apparently, and I truly couldn’t think of anything. “Well, sometimes light shines on the worthy. But sometimes it just shines on the luck ones. And sometimes… Sometimes good people get trapped in the dark.” Pong is a boy who was imprisoned and treated unfairly because of his mother. He simply yearns to be free, but he also is extremely good-hearted and kind. Nok, on the other hand, is fierce and determined, but still struggling to define her ideas of right and wrong, just like any kid growing up is. Both of these characters are growing, developing their ideas of the world, and learning how to fight for others.I think an important part of this book is the relationships that the characters form with one another. First and foremost, I ADORE the sweet friendship between Pong and Somkit (you could argue that they almost seem like brothers). Thank you Middle Grade books for giving me such a wholesome relationship between two boys!!Some other relationships I love include Father Cham, as a mentor to Pong. I am very Thai and look up to monks a lot, so I loved seeing him teach Pong important life lessons, Buddhist-inspired. And I also fell in love with Nok’s relationship with her parents! There is one particular scene where her father reassures her of his love no matter what, and it’s so heartwarming. No matter what he did, he could not shut off the light that poured out of the people of Chattana. What I appreciate a lot about this book is how it artfully tackles social issues such as poverty and wealth distribution. Chattana depends on orb lights, for everything from light to electricity to heating. The system is set up against people who can’t afford the better types, and the rich turn away from their struggles.Soontornvat talks about privilege and unfairness, and how the affluent don’t care about the poor, and, most importantly, questions whether you can actually make a change, when you recognize injustice and believe you cannot do anything about it. She writes these in a meticulous way that makes it easy for kids to understand, yet encourages them to explore these issues for themselves.What really is the cherry on top for me, though, is that this book is brimming with Thai culture. Everything from the names to the !!food!! to the customs to the cover is so wonderfully Thai, and seeing my culture written so lovingly means the absolute world to me. I think I actually teared up at one part when Pong was with monks at a temple probably because, again, my love and respect for monks has been ingrained in me as a Thai. :o)(I also would like to note that there is a lot of mango love, and I, especially as a Thai, wholeheartedly approve.) “You can’t run away from darkness. It’s everywhere. The only way to see through it is to shine a light.” You’ll grow fond of these characters quickly and root for them to bring justice, and you’ll fall in love with the world that it’s set in as well as the culture it draws from. When you finish the book, the only possible reaction is to smile and feel like your heart is expanding beyond your chest.Even if you don’t normally read Middle Grade, I am begging you to pick this up! Not only because it means the world to me for being a Thai-inspired fantasy and having so much Thai culture in its pages, but because it truly is written on another level.:: rep :: all-Thai cast (MY HEART!!!):: content warnings :: death, drowning, fireThank you to Candlewick Press for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! This did not my affect my opinion in any way.All quotes are from an advance copy and may differ in final publication.
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  • chloe yeung ♡
    January 1, 1970
    i received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. all opinions below are my own."you can't run away from darkness," pong whispered. "it's everywhere. the only way to see through it is to shine a light."the french novel les misérables is famous for exploring the topics of poverty, wealth disparity and justice, and these are all handled equally well in a wish in the dark, which has been dubbed a retelling of les misérables set in a thai-inspired world.in the book, social i received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. all opinions below are my own."you can't run away from darkness," pong whispered. "it's everywhere. the only way to see through it is to shine a light."the french novel les misérables is famous for exploring the topics of poverty, wealth disparity and justice, and these are all handled equally well in a wish in the dark, which has been dubbed “a retelling of les misérables set in a thai-inspired world”.in the book, social status is represented by what kind of orbs you use. since fire is banned, orbs are the only source of light for the citizens of chattana, but not everyone can afford the best ones – the rich bask in the luxury of bright lights, while the poor can only use the dimmest, cheapest kind of light. i loved the clever use of symbolism, and the world-building was so amazing. thailand, with its delicious food, friendly people, and rich culture, is one of my favorite countries in the entire world, and i enjoyed seeing it represented in the form of a fantasy world ❤the relationships in this book gave me the warmest fuzzies. the friendship between somkit and pong is so, so beautiful – they are always there for each other, and each one of them are so forgiving and loyal towards the other. i also loved father cham and how he always manages to see the good in every single person. his little blessings for pong are so incredibly sweet, and i couldn’t help smiling at every one of them. on top of that, we witness the development of nok’s relationship with her parents – in the beginning, nok feels that she’s seen as “imperfect” and always worries about ruining her family’s reputation, but at the end, her father explains the truth to her and tells her how much he loves her, and i literally couldn't stop smiling giddily.in conclusion, a wish in the dark is a story with wholesome relationships and incredible world-building, discussing social issues such as wealth disparity and equality through beautiful storytelling. the book made me so happy, and i highly recommend it ♡follow my blog
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  • Jenna (Falling Letters)
    January 1, 1970
    Review originally published 27 March 2020 at Falling Letters. I received a free copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.Content warnings:(view spoiler)[Deaths of parent figures, death in a fire (hide spoiler)]Of all the books Ive read this year, A Wish in the Dark feels most keenly relevant to todays world. (I mean that in a broad sense, not a COVID-19 sense). Soontornvat has penned a moving story about the importance of believing in positive change and standing up Review originally published 27 March 2020 at Falling Letters. I received a free copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.Content warnings:(view spoiler)[Deaths of parent figures, death in a fire (hide spoiler)]Of all the books I’ve read this year, A Wish in the Dark feels most keenly relevant to today’s world. (…I mean that in a broad sense, not a COVID-19 sense). Soontornvat has penned a moving story about the importance of believing in positive change and standing up for what’s right, both at a personal and community level. The story’s touch of magic (in the form of magical orbs providing light and energy) serves to visualize and make concrete a system of structural poverty.Everything in Chattana – every orb, every cookstove, every boat motor – all of it ran on the Governor’s light-making powers. (Loc 187)Nok and Pong find themselves caught up in a grander movement to shift the balance of power in Chattana. Their lived experiences lead them to initially resist that movement, albeit for different reasons. Pong has internalized the words he’s had pushed on him all his life. The Governor, destroying Pong’s idolization of him, tells Pong “Those who are born in darkness always return. You’ll see” (loc 217).He was a runaway and a thief and a liar, and if there was a word for someone who disrespects a monk in his own temple, he was that, too. it had all happened so fast. In the span of a few days, Pong had become exactly what the Governor said he was. (Loc 419).Nok comes from a privileged (albeit imperfect by high society’s standards) family and has benefited from following the rules. She doesn’t realize that following the rules doesn’t guarantee a good life for everyone. Nok’s father also turns out be a more complex character than I initially assumed. I love a backstory that involves a character’s parents in middle grade fiction.In following Pong and Nok’s experiences, A Wish in the Dark can serve as a gentle, clear introduction to social inequity and activism. I think it is difficult to write a book for children on such topics without coming off as didactic. But Soontornvat strikes a good balance between telling an entertaining fictional story and making a pointed observation about the world in which the reader lives.If a march were all it took to stop the Governor and his rich friends, someone would’ve done it already! (Loc 2244)Soontornvat writes in third person limited from both Pong and Nok’s perspectives. (I think Pong receives more page time). Despite not being a POV character, I have to highlight Pong’s childhood friend Som. Like Pong, Som was born in the prison, where he lived until he aged out. Som has learnt to live a life vastly different from Pong’s. As Pong does, I wondered why Som didn’t appear to harbour any ill will towards Pong. This point is eventually addressed in a way I didn’t expect. Their friendship was a highlight of the book for me. (The scene in which they reunite kept me on my toes!)The Bottom Line:A Wish in the Dark infuses important messages and examples about social justice into a creative and vivid light fantasy story set in a Thai-analogue world. ★★★★.(Also, it’s a Les Misérables retelling! As with More to the Story , I didn’t know that til after I finished the book, haha).
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  • ayesha,,
    January 1, 1970
    4.5Middle grade fantasy?? is a genre that's usually a hit or miss for me. A wish in the dark is definitely a hit because it combined all the good elements of middle grade and fantasy and gave us a book that truly SLAPS. A wish in the dark, set in a Thai-inspired fantasy world, is about a boy named Pong who grew up in a prison because of the crimes of his dead mom (wtf right?). This world he lives in is ruled by a Governor who is practically a walking talking torch or in other words he creates 4.5Middle grade fantasy?? is a genre that's usually a hit or miss for me. A wish in the dark is definitely a hit because it combined all the good elements of middle grade and fantasy and gave us a book that truly SLAPS. A wish in the dark, set in a Thai-inspired fantasy world, is about a boy named Pong who grew up in a prison because of the crimes of his dead mom (wtf right?). This world he lives in is ruled by a Governor who is practically a walking talking torch or in other words he creates light for the people. In addition to Pong we have another protagonist, a girl named Nok who is the daughter of the prison's warden. The plot sets in when Pong escapes from the prison and Nok starts hunting him down to protect her father's reputation.The description makes it sound like any other YA fantasy book and yes the underlining concept is basically the same but there are other elements in the book that make it different. The world, for example, is perfectly unique. It's immersive and completely sucks you in. The attention to details was absolutely mind blowing. I can actually imagine all the colours, architecture, and clothes described in the book. I think what truly makes this book amazing is the vast culture represented in it. The characters, I felt, were lacking in emotional depth but I think that's a common thing with middle grade books. I liked the bonds Pong had with all the people he met. Every character had something to teach him and the way he interacted with them was so pure. Nok's story, however, didn't leave much of an impact on me. I think her storyline was neglected and due to the lack of emotional depth, as I mentioned before, I couldn't really connect with her.All in all, A Wish In The Dark took me back to sixth grade when I started reading books for the first time. The purity and the hopefulness that this book fills you with alone makes it worthy of having a 4.5 star ratingThank you Candlewick Press for providing me with an e-arc of this book!
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  • Camille Oquendo
    January 1, 1970
    HAPPY (ALMOST) RELEASE DAY TO A WISH IN THE DARK!This book has been on my radar for over a year, so to be fortunate enough to receive an ARC, I was beyond happy to get a chance to read it early. Upon finishing it, I can definitely say it's become one of my favorite reads of 2020 so far.Cleverly written, absorbing. I enjoyed the fact that AWITD wasn't info dumpy which I feel a lot of fantasy books fall victim to; the flow of the story felt very easygoing. I'm amazed by how many things HAPPY (ALMOST) RELEASE DAY TO A WISH IN THE DARK!This book has been on my radar for over a year, so to be fortunate enough to receive an ARC, I was beyond happy to get a chance to read it early. Upon finishing it, I can definitely say it's become one of my favorite reads of 2020 so far.Cleverly written, absorbing. I enjoyed the fact that AWITD wasn't info dumpy which I feel a lot of fantasy books fall victim to; the flow of the story felt very easygoing. I'm amazed by how many things Soontornvat's done well with this book-- her use of symbolism (i.e. the whole light/darkness and colored orbs paralleling the rich from the poor, the supposed "worthy" from the "unworthy"), the messages she portrayed and the way she addressed justice and privilege. She does it in a way that's not overly preachy but in a smart and heartfelt way that makes you genuinely care and think and question on why the world is the way it is.I loved seeing the juxtaposition between our two main protagonists, Pong and Nok. It really felt as if they were the yin and yang to each other. You have Pong, who just wants to escape his life in prison and be free. And Nok, the prison warden's daughter, who has molded herself into this girl who always follows the law and does what's right because that's what she's grown up accustomed to believing. Seeing how these two characters transform from beginning to end, it really made everything come together beautifully. It just goes to show nothing's ever set in stone and people can always change. This book also had one of the best set of minor characters I've ever read about. Father Cham, a monk and Pong's mentor. It was so essential to have him be a part of this story because he really kickstarted Pong's journey towards finding himself and that's really what Pong needed. Someone to see beyond the surface and see him as a good-hearted human being, not just a product of his environment. Then, we have the righteous Ampai, who showed Pong the value of community and the power of movement. And who could forget about Somkit? Pong's fellow prisoner. Innovative, entertaining, and a loyal friend all the way to the end, his and Pong's friendship was very touching. The bonds that Pong had with each of these characters tied everything up seamlessly and made the book all the more special.Don't underestimate middle grade literature because this book is a prime example of just how impactful this genre can be if it's done well. I'd be more than happy to recommend this book to any teacher, friend, human being out there. Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for providing me an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • USOM
    January 1, 1970
    (Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) At first I was skeptical of how A Wish in the Dark could pull off a Les Mis re-telling for middle grade audiences, but I had no reason to be. A Wish in the Dark tackles the same issues of privilege, justice, and corruption in thoughtful ways for middle grade audiences. It asks us the price of staying quiet, of being complicit in a system that is unfair. Retaining elements of Les (Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) At first I was skeptical of how A Wish in the Dark could pull off a Les Mis re-telling for middle grade audiences, but I had no reason to be. A Wish in the Dark tackles the same issues of privilege, justice, and corruption in thoughtful ways for middle grade audiences. It asks us the price of staying quiet, of being complicit in a system that is unfair. Retaining elements of Les Mis, A Wish in the Dark is delightfully Asian and full of heart. It has such a fabulous and tender friendship between two boys, Pong and his friend, which I think is so important to see in a middle grade.At the same time, A Wish in the Dark retains the heart, emotions, and important questions. Both characters, Pong and Nok - there are dual perspectives for each child - have this heart even though they are on complete different sides. Pong is impulsive, but has a good heart even though he is weighed down by guilt. Whereas Nok has a strong heart, but a strong idealism in justice that doesn't function in our real world. Even though it may be harder for some to empathize with Nok, I found her relatable. We can be so trusting, so driven by this mentality of absolute right and wrong, that we fail to see the shades of grey, the pieces of humanity.full review: https://utopia-state-of-mind.com/revi...
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  • Kathie
    January 1, 1970
    ALL THE STARS!!! This is my favorite read of 2020 so far; in fact, it's been a VERY long time since I've loved a book as much as I loved A WISH IN THE DARK. Thank you to the author for sending an ARC to #bookportage for review.I'm not going to try and review this book. Others can tell you how it's masterfully written, inspired by Les Miserables in a Thai-inspired world with a touch of magic. I've never read or seen Les Mis, I can't tell you how it compares, but I will tell you I'm convinced it ALL THE STARS!!! This is my favorite read of 2020 so far; in fact, it's been a VERY long time since I've loved a book as much as I loved A WISH IN THE DARK. Thank you to the author for sending an ARC to #bookportage for review.I'm not going to try and review this book. Others can tell you how it's masterfully written, inspired by Les Miserables in a Thai-inspired world with a touch of magic. I've never read or seen Les Mis, I can't tell you how it compares, but I will tell you I'm convinced it would disappoint me after reading this book. I feel like this world completely sucked me in, and I never wanted it to end (and with my general dislike for big books, you know that's saying something!) Po's journey of discovery twists and turns, sometimes leading forward, while at other times looping back and revisiting obstacles from his past. There's just SO much to this story, and I hope that it will speak to some young reader the way Les Mis originally spoke to the author.This book comes out the end of March 2020, and I HIGHLY recommend you pick up a copy.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    Sometimes the sheer rightness of a book reminds me so overwhelmingly that people are mostly good, and that my faith in humanity is neither naïve nor misguided, that it inspires both a wave of universal love and a fierce sense of affection and gratitude toward the author for leaving such a gift where I could find it. A Wish in the Dark is like that. Soontornvat enspells us with exactly what we came fora Les Miserables-inspired story in a Thai-inspired fantasy worldbut if youve read other books Sometimes the sheer rightness of a book reminds me so overwhelmingly that people are mostly good, and that my faith in humanity is neither naïve nor misguided, that it inspires both a wave of universal love and a fierce sense of affection and gratitude toward the author for leaving such a gift where I could find it. A Wish in the Dark is like that. Soontornvat enspells us with exactly what we came for—a Les Miserables-inspired story in a Thai-inspired fantasy world—but if you’ve read other books and ended up feeling like their big-name comps were merely window-dressing, have no fear. Like Le Mis, Soontornvat’s beautiful and nuanced narrative traces the paths that lead good people to be on opposite sides of a conflict. Over the course of the story, she draws them inevitably back toward each other, both literally and figuratively, in ways that are surprising, but satisfyingly true to character. I closed this book feeling blown away by the author’s talent. A Wish in the Dark is a wonderfully engrossing adventure, and there are as many characters to love as there are reasons to love them. At the same time, its morally complex narrative pulls no punches. A single sentence near the end of Chapter 43 brought me to tears, and certain characters drew audible laughs from me more than once in that way that only happens when part of the joke is how true to form that character is being, and how fond you've grown of them. Keep A Wish in the Dark close at hand for when you encounter someone who underestimates the value of middle grade literature, and use it as your argument for including genre fiction in your Language Arts curriculum. This book provides endless fodder for cross-curricular investigations and discussions, and there’s no doubt in my mind that if my near-adult children had read A Wish in the Dark when they were its target audience, they’d have been outdoors pretending to be Pong, Somkit and Nok for weeks afterwards. Highly recommended.
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  • Brenda
    January 1, 1970
    A Wish in the Dark is set in a Thai-inspired fantasy world and has been described as a "twist on Les Miserables." Both do emphasize the themes of social justice, human rights, and privilege. In Soontornvat's story, there is an inequality of wealth surrounding the light orbs and the way they're distributed among the villagers. The city is separated into a wealthy Westside and a poor East, an uneven system where only the rich can afford the brightest of orbs. The Governor controls how the lights A Wish in the Dark is set in a Thai-inspired fantasy world and has been described as a "twist on Les Miserables." Both do emphasize the themes of social justice, human rights, and privilege. In Soontornvat's story, there is an inequality of wealth surrounding the light orbs and the way they're distributed among the villagers. The city is separated into a wealthy Westside and a poor East, an uneven system where only the rich can afford the brightest of orbs. The Governor controls how the lights are produced and charged. At a whim, he can increase the prices to fund any of his projects. If you're unable to pay the price, you're left in the dark. Since the Great Fire, all fires have been outlawed and the light orbs are the only system of power for the villagers. To counteract these injustices the people choose to rise up or revolt. It is the only means of bringing about change, so the east side of Chattana organizes a peaceful march across a bridge to show that they want to rid themselves of the tyrannical rule of the Governor. Not only did it remind me of the uprising in Les Miserable, but I also felt it was very similar to the civil rights march of 1965 in Selma, Alabama. Where the Governor was once thought of like a hero, now the people are impassioned to make a change.If you've read or watched Les Miserables the themes of resistance and privilege will certainly resonate with you. Pong was such a wonderful character, he simply wanted to be free. He envisioned that the world outside of the prison would be different, perhaps he would be treated fairly. What he found was that "darkness can be found everywhere," but equally as important is what an individual chooses to do to counteract it.** I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review **
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  • Misti
    January 1, 1970
    Pong grew up inside a prison. When he sees a chance to escape, he takes it even if it means leaving his best friend Somkit behind. Pong ends up at a monastery in a small mountain town, but he knows he cant stay there forever. Events come to a head when the former prison warden visits the monastery with his family, and his daughter Nok recognizes Pong. Holding him responsible for her fathers disgrace, Nok pursues Pong. He flees to the city, where unrest is brewing among the poor, who cant afford Pong grew up inside a prison. When he sees a chance to escape, he takes it — even if it means leaving his best friend Somkit behind. Pong ends up at a monastery in a small mountain town, but he knows he can’t stay there forever. Events come to a head when the former prison warden visits the monastery with his family, and his daughter Nok recognizes Pong. Holding him responsible for her father’s disgrace, Nok pursues Pong. He flees to the city, where unrest is brewing among the poor, who can’t afford the magical light globes that the governor creates.This middle-grade novel is loosely based on Les Miserables — just, you know, less miserable. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) Knowing the basis of the story actually lessened the surprise of a certain plot twist for me ((view spoiler)[Nok, the Javert figure, learns that she was born inside the same prison Pong had lived in (hide spoiler)]), but that’s unlikely to be an issue for the intended readership. All in all, I found this enjoyable but not gripping. The setting is great, but the way magic works in that world isn’t fully explained. Recommended for kids, and for adults who are particularly interested in diverse fantasy and/or retellings of classic literature for young readers.
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  • Nandini | Novels and Nebulas
    January 1, 1970
    I'm so thankful for the opportunity to read this early! I received an e-ARC via Net Galley from Candlewick Press.✨ Reasons to Love ✨✔ Middle grade fantasy✔ Thai-inspired setting✔ Cat-and-mouse plot✔ Magic system based on light✔ Les Misérables with a twist✨ Characters ✨✨ Plot ✨✨ Writing ✨✨ Verdict ✨For a more thorough analysis of the book, check out my full review posted on Novels and Nebulas.
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  • Molly
    January 1, 1970
    A new favorite - unique, magical, and a beautiful message. I couldnt put it down and read it in a day. A new favorite - unique, magical, and a beautiful message. I couldn’t put it down and read it in a day.
  • Marcie Flinchum
    January 1, 1970
    This fantasy novel is just stunning. The writing is exquisite, the characters are gripping, and the setting--inspired by Thailand--is just beautiful. This is one of the novels where you fall so deeply in that you dont want to come out. Highly recommended for middle grade readers (and their adults who also love to read middle grade books). This is a must-purchase for schools and libraries. This fantasy novel is just stunning. The writing is exquisite, the characters are gripping, and the setting--inspired by Thailand--is just beautiful. This is one of the novels where you fall so deeply in that you don’t want to come out. Highly recommended for middle grade readers (and their adults who also love to read middle grade books). This is a must-purchase for schools and libraries.
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  • Paula
    January 1, 1970
    WOW! I received an ARC of this novel by Christina Soontornvat and as soon as I picked it up, I had a hard time putting it down! Christina has created a 'Thai-inspired fantasy world' with characters that will have you cheering and jeering as the search for justice and the fight against unfair privilege is led by two young boys imprisoned for the crimes of their mother. We also meet, Nok, the prison warden's daughter who is on a quest to track down these boys based on her sense of loyalty to her WOW! I received an ARC of this novel by Christina Soontornvat and as soon as I picked it up, I had a hard time putting it down! Christina has created a 'Thai-inspired fantasy world' with characters that will have you cheering and jeering as the search for justice and the fight against unfair privilege is led by two young boys imprisoned for the crimes of their mother. We also meet, Nok, the prison warden's daughter who is on a quest to track down these boys based on her sense of loyalty to her family and the law. But Nok begins to realize that the laws of the governor may not be as just as she had firmly believed and learns that 'truth' can be deceiving. Fans of Les Misérables will appreciate the themes and twists that Christina has infused into this beautiful story of struggle and hope. Set to release in March (2020) I would put this on your "Want to Read" lists and pre-order from your local bookseller!
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  • Shealea
    January 1, 1970
    * I received a physical ARC of this book from its publisher in exchange for an honest review.🌻 My links: Blog | Instagram | Twitter
  • Becky B
    January 1, 1970
    Pong is itching to be free. But freedom cant be anything but a dream for a boy who was born in Namwon prison. He and his best friend Somkit are stuck in the prison until they are 13 just because their moms were put in prison. Their mothers are both gone, but the boys have to stay. And there isnt much hope for them once they get out. Everyone believes that those born of prisoners will just end up back in prison, and in Chattana that happens frequently. When Pong sees his chance to escape one day, Pong is itching to be free. But freedom can’t be anything but a dream for a boy who was born in Namwon prison. He and his best friend Somkit are stuck in the prison until they are 13 just because their moms were put in prison. Their mothers are both gone, but the boys have to stay. And there isn’t much hope for them once they get out. Everyone believes that those born of prisoners will just end up back in prison, and in Chattana that happens frequently. When Pong sees his chance to escape one day, he takes it, though he feels guilty for leaving Somkit behind. The years pass and the boys find themselves reunited in the middle of a city that is tired of chafing under the Governor’s rules that favors the rich and keeps the poor and downtrodden in poverty. The Governor brought magical orbs of light to Chattana and helped rebuild it after the Great Fire. But his light has come at a price. The prison warden’s daughter is also on Pong’s trail, determined to prove herself with his capture. She was brought up believing that the Governor’s rules were all good and right, but her quest to capture Pong is leading her to areas where everything she has believed comes into question. Is freedom even something a kid like Pong can dream about, or is it an impossible dream?Soontornvat has recreated a fantasy version of Thailand here. The food, the customs, the names are all authentically Thai. But the political situation and the magical orbs that the Governor can create are fantasy. The book tackles questions of justice, poverty, wrongful incarceration, and other human rights issues in creative ways. How can people stuck in cycles of poverty can get out when the system is set up against them? When do the punishments stop for people who were once incarcerated? Are laws really just, or are they merely convenient for certain people? Those are deep, hard questions, but wrapped up in a dystopian fantasy they are a little easier to start thinking about. This is a book to chew on long after the covers are closed. The students at my school will love seeing the landscape and food of Thailand in a book, and some of them will be ecstatic to find their own name as the name of a character in an English book. Pong’s journey is adventurous. Somkit is a wonderful friend. And though you start off by not liking Nok, the prison warden’s daughter, she grows a lot and becomes likable. And the poor citizens rallying together to find a way to change their city is inspiring. My hope is that as students enjoy the story of a boy looking for freedom, may they start to ponder how to make the world a better place for those who have the odds stacked against them from the start. Highly recommended for those who like dystopian fiction, light fantasy, or stories set in lightly fantasy Asia. Notes on content: No language issues. No sexual content. There are some small skirmishes as characters make escapes and such, but no major injuries. There is a natural death and a death in a fire off page. I received an ARC of this title from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Donna Aquino
    January 1, 1970
    Les Miserables meets the South East is the flavor that I didnt knew I would love. A Wish In The Dark is a middle-grade fantasy retelling, and I must admit I dont read middle grade a lot but Christina Soontornvats book read as a very mature middle grade book. Set in a Thailand-inspired setting, you will feel like you were in a boat on one of the rivers in Thailand as you read this novel.We are met with Pong, a child born in Namwon Prison due to his mothers offences to the government. He is one of Les Miserables meets the South East is the flavor that I didn’t knew I would love. A Wish In The Dark is a middle-grade fantasy retelling, and I must admit I don’t read middle grade a lot but Christina Soontornvat’s book read as a very mature middle grade book. Set in a Thailand-inspired setting, you will feel like you were in a boat on one of the rivers in Thailand as you read this novel.We are met with Pong, a child born in Namwon Prison due to his mother’s offences to the government. He is one of the children in Namwon, born in prison. Pong’s senses are very keen, to the point when he knows to sit under the mango tree and wait for the sweet fruit to fall on his lap, literally. On the other hand, Nok is the Prison Warden’s perfect daughter. She is smart, strong, and is a strong believer of values taught by the society.One day, Pong helps his friend Somkit clean up the yard after the police guards ate their fill of fruits, and finds himself with a means to escape. On a whim, he goes in the trash bin and finds himself out of prison. Nok, being the eldest daughter of the prison warden, swears to herself to find Pong and restore her family’s honor.A Wish in the Dark’s world building is so solid and vibrant, which is such a treat coming from POC authors. The book doesn’t lean on the usual fantasy settings, which I personally love. It isn’t info heavy and feels like an exploration to a world, that is much appreciated in a middle-grade fantasy. Thailand is one of the countries that I enjoy going back to and exploring, and Christina Soontornvat’s writing is very vivid that I just found myself transported to Thailand all over again, sitting on the ferry going around Chao Phraya river.Aside from the adventure, the book’s themes are laced with themes of poverty, politics, justice, and privilege. And these themes are very relatable to readers coming from developing countries, such as Thailand and my own country, the Philippines. Pong and Somkit are born in a prison, without a fault of their own, but will eventually determine their future living in the streets, barely getting by. Nok is born in a noble family with honorable means, which determines she will be successful in life. And the society is ruled by an unjust Governor who literally has the power to supply light in the nation, as fire is forbidden due to a past calamity that the country suffered.A Wish In The Dark tells readers that life isn’t just black and white, what you see isn’t always what it is. And that everyone has a past but that doesn’t mean they aren’t teachable, that they aren’t able to change. This book tells us that, there is more to a person that what is labelled of them. And I absolutely loved that, because I can vibe with it so much. Christina Soontornvat wove all of these in the pages of this book so delicately and non-invasive, she is a master storyteller for that.Special thanks to Candlewick Press for an advance copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Aria
    January 1, 1970
    Review can also be found at Snow White Hates Apples.Thank you so much Candlewick Press for sending me a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review! A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat will be available at all good bookstores.Oh, whats this? A pattern! Friends, this is officially the third time Ive picked up Middle Grade Fiction (I dont dislike it) without intending to and finding myself pleasantly surprised. A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat is a magical story centered Review can also be found at Snow White Hates Apples.Thank you so much Candlewick Press for sending me a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review! A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat will be available at all good bookstores.Oh, what’s this? A pattern! Friends, this is officially the third time I’ve picked up Middle Grade Fiction (I don’t dislike it) without intending to and finding myself pleasantly surprised. A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat is a magical story centered around Pong, who was born in Namwon Prison, and Nok, the prison warden’s perfect daughter. It focuses on issues like how the world isn’t simply black and white, and on popular themes like friendship, adaptability, resourcefulness and resilience. I love the way the story is executed and am particularly amazed by how it has so little dialogue. The stark lack of dialogue gives every word spoken by the characters more impact and that’s brilliant.However, I must admit that I find Somkit and Pong’s conversations awkward, particularly at the beginning for both and later, for Somkit. Their dialogue doesn’t sound natural no matter how I read it and I can’t imagine kids who have been neglected and used as a source of entertainment in a prison speaking like that.On the topic of characters, they’re all pretty archetypal (characteristic of the genre/targeted demographic), but they’re also solid. Each character has something you can learn from, whether big or small. Moreover, the plot is typical of middle grade fiction but as implied by my earlier declaration of love for how this story is executed, it’s fleshed out nicely and written well in overall.Other than that, the world building is as brilliant as it should be. The attention to detail and the way the details are written are things I appreciate greatly from middle grade fiction writers. They manage to include so much, making all that information feel like an adventure instead of one of those boring information dumps.Everything considered, A Wish in the Dark is a book that perhaps has one of the purest and most hopeful feeling to it. Like a lot of middle grade fiction, it’s about kids discovering what’s important to them and how they’re going to live in a world that’s not all sunshine and laughter. However, it manages to go through the grimmer parts of reality without well, being negative about it in a way that really sticks to you. Every cloud has a silver lining and it’s knowing that that silver lining is there each time that makes this book feel so pure and hopeful.
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  • Jennie Seaman
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed this fun middle grade fantasy novel. It had themes of adult fantasy pulled down to a smaller scale for younger readers and I loved it. After the Great Fire destroyed the city of Chattana, the Governor comes to save the starving population and give the city light. Pong, who was born in Namwon Prison, sees the mysterious lights and is determined to see them himself. When he finally gets his chance, he escapes from prison and runs. Nok, the prison warden's daughter, is determined I really enjoyed this fun middle grade fantasy novel. It had themes of adult fantasy pulled down to a smaller scale for younger readers and I loved it. After the Great Fire destroyed the city of Chattana, the Governor comes to save the starving population and give the city light. Pong, who was born in Namwon Prison, sees the mysterious lights and is determined to see them himself. When he finally gets his chance, he escapes from prison and runs. Nok, the prison warden's daughter, is determined to find the prisoner who escaped in order to restore her family's good name. Both Pong and Nok are confronted with the reality of their world through each of their journeys. I really enjoyed this novel. I really got vibes that felt so much bigger than the typical middle grade fantasies. This book confronts more challenging topics and felt like it could have been an adult high fantasy if the characters were older. I loved getting to know the world. It felt like I was really there in the cities and was right there with the characters. I liked that the story was so broad but still focused on this one little area. The magic was interesting and I really wanted to know more about it. I feel like it definitely could have been explained a bit better so that I could really understand how everything is happening. The story and the magic system reminded me of Brandon Sanderson's fantasy novels. I loved both Pong and Nok. As our two main characters from two different points of view, they really helped the reader to understand. I loved their growth. I do wish that the book was a little bit longer so that the growth that both of them experience didn't feel so rushed. It seemed like the characters' growth was saved for the very end and I wanted maybe a more gradual change. But overall, I loved both Nok and Pong. I really enjoyed reading this book, and I look forward to reading more from Christina Soontornvat! *eARC provided in exchange for an honest review*
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  • Nikki Kohlmeier
    January 1, 1970
    A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat is a beautiful middle-grade story about literal light, as well as the light within us all. The book is set in Chattana, a "Thai-inspired fantasy world," and tells the story of Pong, a boy born in prison, and Nok, the daughter of the prison warden. Pong escapes from prison and goes on a journey of discovery, all the while nervous that he will be caught and sent back to prison for the rest of his life. Nok finds Pong and is determined to turn him in, A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat is a beautiful middle-grade story about literal light, as well as the light within us all. The book is set in Chattana, a "Thai-inspired fantasy world," and tells the story of Pong, a boy born in prison, and Nok, the daughter of the prison warden. Pong escapes from prison and goes on a journey of discovery, all the while nervous that he will be caught and sent back to prison for the rest of his life. Nok finds Pong and is determined to turn him in, meanwhile discovering more about herself and what she believes in the process. Along the way, we meet many who selflessly care for, love and guide Pong, a few whom I absolutely adored, especially Somkit, Father Cham and Ampai and her tangerine peels. The city of Chattana is under the rule of the Governor, and the injustice in Chattana is unsettling and unfair. The people are afraid of forever being in the dark, as the Governor controls all the source of light, in the colored light orbs that shine on Chattana (I loved the descriptions of the orbs and visualizing the setting). Pong, along with his friends, and Nok, are all on a mission to do what’s right and restore justice. Towards the end, the story grew exciting for me. I was rooting for these kids and for good to conquer evil. The end did wrap up rather quickly, but I was satisfied in the end as well.A Wish in the Dark was an inspiring middle-grade read, and I would recommend it as a novel that will promote a beginning understanding of justice, rules, morals, courage, and so on. Thank you to the author, Candlewick Press, and Netgalley for providing me with an ARC of this book. All opinions are my own.
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  • Carrie Irwin
    January 1, 1970
    I was excited to receive a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!A Wish in the Dark is a middle grade Thai-inspired fantasy twist on Les Miserables. It follows Pong, a boy who escaped from the prison where he was born, and Nok, the daughter of the prison warden who is determined to recapture him. As the two travel through the novel, they discover the truth of the injustice that flows through their city. I didnt make it all the way through this book I was excited to receive a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!A Wish in the Dark is a middle grade Thai-inspired fantasy twist on Les Miserables. It follows Pong, a boy who escaped from the prison where he was born, and Nok, the daughter of the prison warden who is determined to recapture him. As the two travel through the novel, they discover the truth of the injustice that flows through their city. I didn’t make it all the way through this book before I paused and ordered copies for our school library and classrooms. Soontornvat does an excellent job tackling social issues that are very real and present in our modern world through a well developed fantasy. The city of Chattana is divided. Distribution of wealth and resources leave a large portion of the city’s population struggling to survive and some hoping for a brighter tomorrow. The more affluent in the city don’t care about the poor, instead believing the proverbs of their governor, ascribing to the belief that people are at fault for their poverty. These issues are tackled in a way that is easy for middle grade readers to understand, focusing on the city’s orbs, their source of energy and light. A major strength of this book is the characters’ relationships. Not only did the young characters in the book have strong relationships with their peers, but they had developing relationships with the adults in their lives. In particular, Nok’s relationship with her parents went through a great transformation as she learned her own story. It’s important and rare for young readers to see adult characters and relationships that are still growing and maturing.
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  • Nikki Kohlmeier
    January 1, 1970
    A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat is a beautiful middle-grade story about literal light, as well as the light within us all. The book is set in Chattana, a "Thai-inspired fantasy world," and tells the story of Pong, a boy born in prison, and Nok, the daughter of the prison warden. Pong escapes from prison and goes on a journey of discovery, all the while nervous that he will be caught and sent back to prison for the rest of his life. Nok finds Pong and is determined to turn him in, A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat is a beautiful middle-grade story about literal light, as well as the light within us all. The book is set in Chattana, a "Thai-inspired fantasy world," and tells the story of Pong, a boy born in prison, and Nok, the daughter of the prison warden. Pong escapes from prison and goes on a journey of discovery, all the while nervous that he will be caught and sent back to prison for the rest of his life. Nok finds Pong and is determined to turn him in, meanwhile discovering more about herself and what she believes in the process. Along the way, we meet many who selflessly care for, love and guide Pong, a few whom I absolutely adored, especially Somkit, Father Cham and Ampai and her tangerine peels. The city of Chattana is under the rule of the Governor, and the injustice in Chattana is unsettling and unfair. The people are afraid of forever being in the dark, as the Governor controls all the source of light, in the colored light orbs that shine on Chattana (I loved the descriptions of the orbs and visualizing the setting). Pong, along with his friends, and Nok, are all on a mission to do what’s right and restore justice. Towards the end, the story grew exciting for me. I was rooting for these kids and for good to conquer evil. The end did wrap up rather quickly, but I was satisfied in the end as well.A Wish in the Dark was an inspiring middle-grade read, and I would recommend it as a novel that will promote a beginning understanding of justice, rules, morals, courage, and so on. Thank you to the author, Candlewick Press, and Netgalley for providing me with an ARC of this book. All opinions are my own.
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  • LeeAnne
    January 1, 1970
    Pong and Nok come from different sides of the river in their beloved Chattana, but they might as well be worlds apart. He's a prisoner in a youth reform prison; she's the daughter of an upstanding family who believes that "light shines on those who are worthy." Being born on the right side of the river to the right family apparently makes someone worthy of light. What does that mean about all those who struggle; are they not worthy?After escaping from prison and finding refuge in a tiny village Pong and Nok come from different sides of the river in their beloved Chattana, but they might as well be worlds apart. He's a prisoner in a youth reform prison; she's the daughter of an upstanding family who believes that "light shines on those who are worthy." Being born on the right side of the river to the right family apparently makes someone worthy of light. What does that mean about all those who struggle; are they not worthy?After escaping from prison and finding refuge in a tiny village with monks, Pong lives four years learning their ways and is happy until the day that Nok and her family show up to make sure Chattana's laws are being followed way out in the remote villages. Her family has fallen from grace since Pong's escape from the prison her father was in charge of. Once Nok realizes who the young monk really is, she sees a way to get her family's status reinstated. She must capture the criminal.As the hunt for Pong moves throughout Chattana, Nok learns what her beautiful town is really like. People are suffering with no light, no money, no food only because they are unlucky, while others lavishly spend their days. Where is the fairness, the grace, the mercy that she has learned about in her expensive school? How can all of these people be unworthy? “Sometimes things aren’t as simple as they teach you in school” (242). With lessons of privilege, class, and social justice this is a must read for middle grade students.
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  • Charis Rae
    January 1, 1970
    In a world where "light shines on the worthy," Pong belongs in the darkness. After he manages to escape Namwon prison, where he was born, he searches for a way to truly be free of the darkness in his world and in his heart. Nok, the prison warden's daughter, hunts Pong in an attempt to restore her family's reputation. Soon, they both discover the secrets within their magical city, Chattana, and set off to find a way to fight against the darkness once and for all. Pong paced under the mango tree In a world where "light shines on the worthy," Pong belongs in the darkness. After he manages to escape Namwon prison, where he was born, he searches for a way to truly be free of the darkness in his world and in his heart. Nok, the prison warden's daughter, hunts Pong in an attempt to restore her family's reputation. Soon, they both discover the secrets within their magical city, Chattana, and set off to find a way to fight against the darkness once and for all. Pong paced under the mango tree and looked across the river. The sun was just beginning to set over the silhouettes of the houses on the West Side, and the sky was a glorious wash of purple and orange. First off, this book is LES MISERABLES RETELLING!!! Les Mis was the first musical I ever watched/listened to, and it's still my favorite musical ever. Better yet, this book is a Thai-inspired retelling! 🤩🤩 A Wish In The Dark was a whirlwind, and I loved every second of it. Pong and Somkit were amazing, adorable characters, and the world was so vivid and beautiful. (Someone give me mangos pls!!) This story questioned what it truly means to "be bad" and "be good," and how sometimes rules are written for certain people. Do yourself a favor and please read this one! FULL REVIEW @ CharisRae.Com
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  • Aaron
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars for me. I got this book from my bookish friends at Book Portage, our Canadian ARC sharing group. I read the back and went, oops, I can't read a book inspired by Les Miserables, I really don't have an idea what its about. (Later, I read two reviews that claimed the same thing- what a relief). However, this book is sensational on its own. Christina Soontornvat has created a world inspired by Thailand but all her own. It's a book about social control, protest, and standing up for one's 4.5 stars for me. I got this book from my bookish friends at Book Portage, our Canadian ARC sharing group. I read the back and went, oops, I can't read a book inspired by Les Miserables, I really don't have an idea what its about. (Later, I read two reviews that claimed the same thing- what a relief). However, this book is sensational on its own. Christina Soontornvat has created a world inspired by Thailand but all her own. It's a book about social control, protest, and standing up for one's rights.In this story, two nine year old boys grow up in a prison near Chattana, because that is where their mother's were when they were born. In Chattana, the Governor creates all light and energy, creating a world that has light out of one that was dark. He is considered a great man for performing this feat of magic and saving the city. However, many still have to go without and in desperate times, they commit crimes that keep them under the control of those with privilege. As the book progresses, many characters on the wrong side of the bridge, and the right side of the bridge, begin to question the legitimacy and motives of the Governor. I really enjoyed the pacing and the characters that were created here.
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  • Pen
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my reviewing the book. "The most vulnerable among us always deserve the greatest blessing."First of all, read this book! Share it and explore it because it's representing a world that you probably aren't very familiar with.I really wanted to love this book. The Thai setting, the mixture of fantasy and reality, of mangoes and shrimp paste made me so excited for a book that represents Southeast Asia. I even preordered it to I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my reviewing the book. "The most vulnerable among us always deserve the greatest blessing."First of all, read this book! Share it and explore it because it's representing a world that you probably aren't very familiar with.I really wanted to love this book. The Thai setting, the mixture of fantasy and reality, of mangoes and shrimp paste made me so excited for a book that represents Southeast Asia. I even preordered it to share with my students! I’m not normally a fan of retellings, but this one departs sufficiently from its inspiration (Les Miserables) that it don’t spoil the plot or overly dictate what would happen.I got about 3/4 of the way through the book maintaining those feelings of enjoyment. There were some good plot twists that turned things on their head. But the ending felt a bit rushed to me. The writer was building up toward this great concept of wrestling with darkness versus light and how choices or lack thereof impact other people’s lives but didn’t quite bring it home in my opinion. Or perhaps she tackled too much, with the prison system and governments and controlling leaders all at once. It’s a good book to bring up questions and open discussions. And I’m so glad to see Southeast Asia represented in literature. I just wished for a little bit more.
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  • Stephanie
    January 1, 1970
    A Wish In the DarkBy Christina SoontornvatIn A Wish In The Dark by Christina Soontornvat, you have a world that was scarred by fire and turned to magic to illuminate, heat, and cook. This magic is a blessing in that no one has to worry about the dangers of fire but it is also a curse in that it isnt a free source of energy and it deepens the divide between the rich and the poor. Nobody knows this division more than the children who are imprisoned in the Namwon prison. While light and heat may be A Wish In the DarkBy Christina SoontornvatIn A Wish In The Dark by Christina Soontornvat, you have a world that was scarred by fire and turned to magic to illuminate, heat, and cook. This magic is a blessing in that no one has to worry about the dangers of fire but it is also a curse in that it isn’t a free source of energy and it deepens the divide between the rich and the poor. Nobody knows this division more than the children who are imprisoned in the Namwon prison. While light and heat may be controlled by the government, no one can extinguish the light of a soul that burns to be free. I loved this story that delights both in its originality but also in its rich descriptions of velvety ripe mangoes, putrid durian, and enduring hope. With heroes that aren’t always heroic and villains with whom you can sympathize, Soontornvat shows readers a beautiful glimpse of the magic that’s in all of us. It’s messy, it doesn’t always shine it’s brightest, but never doubt there is light inside of you.I highly recommend this book for grades 4-8.
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  • Deanna Holdsworth
    January 1, 1970
    When I finished this book I felt all the feelings including: happy, sad, hopeful, and so much more! This story has it all! Chattana is a city that found itself in the dark after the great fire. The Governor brought light back to the city but not all receive the brightest of the light. The Governor restored the light and peace with very strict laws. Pong and Somkit are two young boys who have lived their entire lives in prison because it is where they were born. Pong manages to escape and finds When I finished this book I felt all the feelings including: happy, sad, hopeful, and so much more! This story has it all! Chattana is a city that found itself in the dark after the great fire. The Governor brought light back to the city but not all receive the brightest of the light. The Governor restored the light and peace with very strict laws. Pong and Somkit are two young boys who have lived their entire lives in prison because it is where they were born. Pong manages to escape and finds refuge at a monastery where he learns about kindness and service. When Nok, the daughter of the prison warden, finds him at the monastery she is soon trying to capture him in order to return him to the prison. He manages to get away and is reunited with Somkit on the dark streets of Chattana. Somkit has learned how to create light and is working with others to hold a demonstration against the Governor. Nok learns about her past and soon all three, Nok, Somkit and Pong are against the Governor. Will they be able to help all the citizens of Chattana receive the light?
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  • Erin
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you NetGalley and Candlewick Press for the opportunity to read this beautiful story. Christina Soontornvat has created a truly magical, original Thai-inspired setting and breathes new life into the Haves vs. Have Nots conflict. Born in Namwon Prison, our protagonist Pong escapes, hoping for a much brighter future. He doubts himself and the goodness of other people. A spiritual encounter leads Pong to reconsider his potential. The privileged Governor lords his magical light over the poor Thank you NetGalley and Candlewick Press for the opportunity to read this beautiful story. Christina Soontornvat has created a truly magical, original Thai-inspired setting and breathes new life into the Haves vs. Have Nots conflict. Born in Namwon Prison, our protagonist Pong escapes, hoping for a much brighter future. He doubts himself and the goodness of other people. A spiritual encounter leads Pong to reconsider his potential. The privileged Governor lords his magical light over the poor people of Chattana who can't afford the orbs and who aren't allowed to make or use fire. The rich revel in orb-lit life and separate themselves from the darkness of the poorer part of the city. The prison warden's daughter Nok tries to honor her family by tracking down the escapee (Pong). On this quest, Nok also learns from her experiences and begins to wonder about the status quo and must choose on which side of justice she will stand. This book is a must-read for middle school fantasy lovers. I received this ebook ARC free from Net Galley for an honest review.
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  • Em Jay
    January 1, 1970
    Every now and then, a book comes along that's just a little bit perfect. A little bit special. Not in a loud way, but the sort that wraps itself around your heart and whispers, I'm going to stay here forever. A WISH IN THE DARK is brilliance. Set in the beautifully wrought city of Chattana, this story is a loose Les Miserables retelling about a boy who escapes from prison, a law-abiding girl desperate to prove her worthiness, and an unjust Governor who controls the world's light. Not only is it Every now and then, a book comes along that's just a little bit perfect. A little bit special. Not in a loud way, but the sort that wraps itself around your heart and whispers, I'm going to stay here forever. A WISH IN THE DARK is brilliance. Set in the beautifully wrought city of Chattana, this story is a loose Les Miserables retelling about a boy who escapes from prison, a law-abiding girl desperate to prove her worthiness, and an unjust Governor who controls the world's light. Not only is it a cracking adventure, but Soontornvat has embedded extremely important questions about justice, poverty, privilege, destiny, and legacy into the characters' journeys. These topics are handled with incredible grace. I'm always wary of books that set out to teach a lesson, but oh, Soontornvat could teach a master-class on how it's done. The problems here are eternally applicable to the real world, and I would highly encourage all readers - especially teachers - to embark on Pong & Nok's struggle for freedom. What more can I say? It's a wholehearted recommend from me, with an easy 5/5 stars.
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