One Wish Away was written by Ingrid Seymour and is due for release at the beginning of February. It is a paranormal romance novel about a girl who finds herself irresistibly drawn to a djinn. The book is the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced. Many thanks to the author for providing me with an advance copy in exchange for my fair and unbiased review.
Marielle has not had an easy upbringing. Her mother tragically passed away and her father abandoned her, choosing to drown his sorrows in drink. She was instead raised by her grandfather, helping out in his esoteric flower shop, until one tragic afternoon when he too lost his life. Left with no family and shouldering her grandfather’s extensive debt, she is forced to turn her hopes to the unusual object that he left to her. A magical stone.
Trapped within the stone is Faris, an ancient djinn who is cursed to grant three wishes to whoever owns the stone. He is only free so long as that person is making their choices. Once voice is given to the final wish, he vanishes again until the stone changes hands. Marielle immediately regrets summoning the djinn. She remembers enough of her grandfather’s stories to know that he can’t be trusted. He will seek to seduce her, doing anything in his power to prevent her from making her wishes so that he can enjoy his freedom.
Yet Marielle’s suspicion blinds her to the truth. Faris is more complex than she gives him credit for and is hiding shocking secrets of his own. Although she has had nothing but bad experiences with men, she slowly starts to trust him. Yet doing so puts her in tremendous danger as Faris’s brother, Zet, makes his presence known. Zet has plans for his older brother and isn’t above hurting anyone who gets in his way…
If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you may have noticed that I don’t have the best of luck when it comes to selecting paranormal romance stories for review. While I have read some ones that were simply great (check out my posts on Awoken and Shiver for more details), I often have problems with the clones of Edward Cullen and Bella Swan that seem to populate this kind of stories. Yet I was optimistic about this one. I’ve never read one that focuses on djinni before and based on my experiences of Seymour’s earlier work (Ignite the Shadows) I had faith that she could produce a female lead that I could root for.
Yet, unfortunately, my feelings towards this story are very mixed. To begin with the positive, the premise is great and certainly held my attention throughout. There’s just something wholly entertaining about stories that hinge on wish-making – that whole “be careful what you wish for” element twinned with the sheer mystery of what the protagonist will desire.
The novel used these mysteries to great effect, keeping the reader guessing throughout. As the story progressed, Marielle slowly released that a number of the people close to her suffered terribly and could benefit from her inherited power, yet with only three wishes she had to choose carefully how to best use them. The results were very satisfying, especially in the inspired way that she selected her final wish. No spoilers here, but I could not think of a better use for it myself.
Beyond this, there were also a number of other mysteries that surfaced within the plot. Some were answered in the text, while others were merely brushed upon to leave hanging threads for the sequel. Yet, thankfully, this book did feel complete in its own right. While there are certainly more questions to be answered, the book ended on a final note which neatly closed off the first part of Marielle’s story. I’m very curious to see where Seymour intends to take this in subsequent instalments.
Yet there felt to be something seriously off with the novel’s pacing. It simultaneously seemed to be both too slow and too fast. I know that sounds a little contradictory, but I can’t think of a better way to describe this. Marielle meets Faris (and accepts that djinni are real) and makes her first two wishes relatively quickly, yet Zet doesn’t make his appearance until over halfway through the novel. While there is some vague foreshadowing of his arrival, this seemed a bit off. Zet is mentioned by name on the blurb. It seems odd to try and shroud him in mystery for so much of the story when it’s blatantly obvious who he is.
As the Zet plot doesn’t really find its feet for almost three quarters of the novel, the rest of the book is mainly spent building character. It follows Marielle’s first person train of thought as she meets with friends, mulls over how much she can trust Faris and faces numerous difficulties in her day to day life. Personally, I felt that this carried some problems of its own. While characters are integral to a novel of this type, there were far too many of them for such a short book and so not all received the loving care they deserved.
Take Marielle’s father for example. Her father’s alcoholism had a drastic affect on her, leaving her feeling abandoned and betrayed. Yet half-way through the book he waltzed back into her life, insisting on staying in their home and asking for forgiveness. Surprisingly, Marielle does forgive him with astounding ease. Within days of his arrival, she’s actually feeling sorry for him. This may just speak volumes for my personality but how could she? This is the man who walked out on a grieving child? How could she just let him straight back into her life like this?
Once the Zet plot becomes focus, a number of other characters also just kind of fade away. Maven was a kind of love interest for the first half of the story but virtually disappeared from proceedings as soon as Marielle set her sights on Faris. Jeremy, too, was far less integral to the plot than I imagined. As a sleazebag ex, Jeremy had more than a hand in tarnishing Marielle’s view of men. While he does finally get his comeuppance, I felt it would have been more satisfying if Marielle had an active role to play in his downfall.
However, Seymour did craft a fantastic protagonist in Marielle. Much like Marci in Ignite the Shadows, Marielle felt like a real person. She’s strong-willed and independent which puts her a head and shoulders above your typical paranormal romance heroine (*cough* Bella). While her attitudes towards people, particularly Faris, could be a little Protean, she’d survived such a difficult youth that it was at least understandable. Really, it’s a miracle that she was still standing tall – I’d be a wreck if I’d had to deal with half of the things that she had!
Her relationship with Faris was also touching. This developed slowly over the course of the novel, mercifully sparing the reader from any love at first sight, and in doing so it felt very genuine. I love how the tone of their dialogue slowly started to shift from hostility to obvious attraction. In seeing the two of them gradually open up and show their vulnerable sides to one another, it made me care about what happened to them all the more.
I’m starting to ramble so I guess I’ll wrap up. All in all, this wasn’t my favourite paranormal romance novel but it’s far from being the worst that I’ve had to review. The story had some problems but if you’re a fan of the genre, I would recommend as I’m sure you’ll get a kick out of it.
One Wish Away is due for release on the 7th February and is currently available to pre-order from Amazon.co.uk