You know those fantastical stories that draw you in from the very first line?
The ones packed with solid world-building, interesting characters, magic, danger, romance, and…a…a…shape-shifting otter?
If Wishes Were Curses by the uber-talented Janeen Ippolito hits all these high points and more.
Before I get into the reasons I loved this story, I’m gonna give you the blurb:
So I accidentally killed a shifter. On purpose.
With genie powers I shouldn’t be able to use, thanks to my curse-mark.
In my defense, the damn grizzly was threatening civilians and might have been a vampire as well. Pittsburgh is safer without him. Only the Fae court doesn’t believe my story, and the shifters are out for blood.
Now I’ve lost my job as a romantic investigator, and I’m on death row. My only hope is an oddly outgoing vegetarian vampire lawyer who seems strangely familiar. Too familiar.
Almost like we’ve met before, and this whole thing was a set-up to take us both down.
Wishing won’t get us out of this mess.
But my forbidden wish magic just might.
Whoa! Sounds intense, right?
Okay, here’s what I loved:
1. Non-stop action
Once this story starts, it does not let up. Our heroine, Allis, battles the Fae world (which really have it out for her), her own powers (astronomical), and even destiny to get what she wants. Set in an absolutely magical but absolutely believable Pittsburgh, this imaginative tale sucked me in and took me for a wild ride. I loved the bits and pieces of plot dangled ever so skillfully in front of me that left me hooked as well as all the mythological traditions blended together.
2. A character I could root for
I loved Allis’s snarky comments and absolute flair for wry observations that were so witty, I literally laughed out loud more than once. Allis was handed a raw deal, but instead of feeling sorry for herself, she plucks up her courage, reins in those darker impulses, and sets about making things right. I really admired her streak of justice! And the family dynamic with her brother provided an opportunity to showcase her loyalty.
3. A romantic subplot that hummed beautifully throughout the story
I don’t read ‘romance’ stories. But I still like romance, you know? This story hit the perfect balance. Without giving you any spoilers, let’s just say I really enjoyed the way Allis constantly met and re-met the love of her life. Their chemistry was red-hot without being too in-your-face, and I loved how their devotion to one another got them out of more than one sticky situation.
Janeen Ippolito writes steampunk fantasy and urban fantasy, and creates writing resources, including the reference book World Building From the Inside Out and the creative writing guide Irresistible World Building For Unforgettable Stories. She’s an experienced teacher, editor, author coach, marketer, and is the leader of Uncommon Universes Press, a small traditional science fiction and fantasy publishing house. She’s also the cohost of the podcast Indie Book Magic. In her spare time, Janeen enjoys sword-fighting, reading, pyrography, and eating brownie batter. Two of her goals are eating fried tarantulas and traveling to Antarctica.
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Too short to be an elf and too tall to be a Hobbit, Jebraun lives smack-dab in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island surrounded by thermal activity, stunning lakes, and enough Redwoods to make her Californian heart swoon. She writes about discovering identity, living without fear, and enjoys creating fantastic worlds. Her loves include coffee, tree ferns, dark chocolate, and Jesus, and she harbours a secret penchant for British spelling. You can find her sci-fi short story “Beyond the Stars, Past the Moons” in Encircled, a collection of fairy tale retellings.
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