A Wish in the Dark

By Christina Soontornvat,

Book cover of A Wish in the Dark

Book description

A 2021 Newbery Honor Book

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…

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Why read it?

5 authors picked A Wish in the Dark as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

After I read Soontornvat’s brilliant nonfiction, I knew it was time to explore her fiction. As a writer, I was blown away by so many aspects of this book.

Soontornvat took the basic storyline of Les Miserables and turned it into a middle-grade fantasy, creating a world influenced by Thai culture but with its own fully realized magical system that never bogs down with clunky info dumping.

But as a reader, I simply fell in love with her characters and enjoyed devouring the book in one sitting.

Because I write children’s books, I often read children’s books to keep me up to date on what’s being published.

I have seen many good picture books, which I’ve given rave reviews for in Goodreads, but middle-grade novels, which I aspire to write, don’t always do much for me. A Wish in the Dark was such an obvious exception. For one thing, the plot and the characters stayed with me.

The intelligence of the theme was exceptional, embedded in a fantasy that was supposedly based on Les Miserables, with two children at odds with each other. It is quite…

A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat is a retelling of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables set in a Thai-inspired fantasy world. I cannot say enough about the gorgeous setting details and atmosphere that support the characters in this novel. From the very first pages, I felt drawn into the world of Pong and Nok. This novel will feel familiar in theme and plot to those familiar with Victor Hugo’s classic, but it also stands alone as a new story that needs to be read and shared.

This fast-paced retelling of Les Miserables, set in a Thai-inspired fantasy world is not only beautifully written, but is also captivating to read. The themes of law and justice familiar to readers of the original story are equally as important for young readers today. This story inspires and encourages us all to be a light in dark places.

From Lorelei's list on retellings for middle grade readers.

This is a subtle retelling of Les Misérables set in a Thai-inspired fantasy world. The Governor enjoys absolute rule over Chattana thanks to his unique power to create orbs of light, the only source of energy in the city. Born in a prison, Pong escaped as a child but still bears a telltale tattoo betraying his origins. When Nok, the former prison warden’s daughter, discovers Pong, she is bent on recapturing him. During their game of cat and mouse, fugitive Pong and privileged Nok each awaken to the injustice and inequality in their city. This book asks readers to consider…

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