Title: Wishtress
Author: Nadine Brandes
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: September 13th 2022
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Finished reading: August 20th 2022
Pages: 464

“It’s the struggle of this world: to have to choose between Bane and Talent, except the fight will be that much harder since few of us have Talents and Banes are being forced on all.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I confess that it was cover love at first sight when I first heard about Wishtress… And while I don’t read YA fantasy often anymore, I decided to give this story a go anyway both because I loved the sound of the blurb and because I had a great time reading one of the author’s other titles a few years ago (Romanov). I guess I should have investigated further, because I didn’t realize that this book was actually Christian fiction and that religion would play such a big role in the plot. Even so, this wasn’t the only reason why this story failed to hit the mark for me.

First of all, I do have to say that I still love the sound of the premise and the idea behind the high fantasy world and its magic. Do I wish the worldbuilding would have been more elaborate? Absolutely. But the magic with its Talents and Banes was great fun to read about. What I didn’t realize before I started reading (and something that would probably would have stopped me from doing so), is that Wishtress is actually Christian fiction. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s never my cup of tea and while things were subtle in the beginning, things sure escalated towards the end.

I found the story to be very black and white, with the whole good versus evil references in the Talents and Banes as well as the characters. I was also surprised just by how easily a lot of characters seem to switch between both sides in such a short timeframe… It made me doubt their credibility. And for a character driven story, the main characters felt rather flat and cliche; basically your basic heroine and hero you see in a lot of YA fantasy stories. Myrthe especially bothered me considerably with her lack of spine (initially) and abrupt change once she truly understands her talent… The constant repetition of her wanting to sacrifice herself became quite annoying as well. Bastiaan’s character lacked dept for me, and everything surrounding both main characters felt a little too convenient. True, I did like Runt as a character, but I saw the ‘twist’ involving his character come from a mile away… And again, it was just too convenient to be plausible.

I also had issues with the romance, and I almost wish there wouldn’t have been any at all. The connection between Myrthe and Bastiaan felt too much like instalove, and I didn’t feel their chemistry at all. It went from awkward to ‘I would die for you‘ in a flash, and it just didn’t feel credible. To makes things worse, there is also a love triangle vibe included; another pet peeve I could have done without. I also wondered about the use of random Dutch AND German words in the text… I’m guessing it was used to give the story a more exotic feel, but why the two different languages instead of sticking with one? I’m not sure why it bothered me that much, but I wasn’t a fan of how the words were incorporated. As a philologist, I normally love it when a story includes a different language, but in this case it might just alienate readers from the story instead. Then again, I could be wrong… I do understand both Dutch and German, which made the words stick out more for me (and their use more awkward).

All in all, I can conclude that sadly Wishtress wasn’t a right fit for me. The premise sounded fantastic, but there were multiple elements in the story I ended up having issues with. Some of these are highly personal and I do know a lot of people seem to love this story, so if you like Christian fiction and YA fantasy with a magical touch, Wishtress might just be a good fit for you.


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