Review: Day of Wishes and Wonder

After I completed Waiting in the Water, I jumped right into another fantasy series by Anne Stryker. Day of Wishes and Wonder is the first, and so far, only book in her Starlight Fae series. It had a tonal shift from Waiting in the Water and even Crumbling Towers, her "Rapunzel" adaptation from the Enchanted Kingdoms anthology that motivated me to read more of her work. I realize that in older mythology, the fae are a dark, mischievous, and often deadly species that hardly resemble the sparkly faery princesses that we see in modern media. As fan of the latter, I prefer some sort of middle ground when I read books inspired by this mythology, such as Brittany Fichter's Autumn Fairy trilogy. Even the Disney Princesses update their fairy tales and characters every few years to go along with the times. The other books that I had read by Anne Stryker gave me certain expectations that this missed, despite its gorgeous cover.

Day of Wishes and Wonder by Anne Stryker

Day of Wishes and Wonder follows the "lost princess" archetype of a girl living in unfortunate circumstances who is introduced to an opulent world from her past that she was either too young to remember or forgot due to reasons beyond her control. In this case, the forgotten world isn't exactly a glittering kingdom that wants to welcome her with open arms. Ella finds that she is just as much of an outcast in the fae world of Tir Na Nog as she was in the orphanage that she came from. The story begins in modern times, but the "real life" setting has very little impact since so much of it takes place in Tir Na Nog, and Ella is too poor to afford any sort of modern technology. I actually would have liked to read more about her life in the real world before she gets flung into the land of the fae since that is the only identity she has in this book, and the story flounders in Tir Na Nog for quite some time before anything of importance happens. A flaw that I find with many books that are intended to be the first in a series is that the author is afraid that if she reveals in the first book, there won't be enough story left to tell for the next one.

One of the things I had trouble with in this book was connecting with Ella, which is important since the book is told from her perspective. She had so little interest in anything that was going on around her, and her lack of memories of her past in Tir Na Nog made it difficult to see the other characters and events through her eyes. Since she does not regain any of her memories in this book, everything the fae say to her has some sort of double meaning that we never learn as readers. The fae prince, who calls himself Knight, tells Ella that she broke his heart in their past life together, even though she had far more chemistry with Flint, the fae elf who recovers her necklace and rescues her from her life at the orphanage. Flint is brutally honest, a bit mischievous, and annoyingly mysterious about his own past with Ella. If the author was trying to build up a secret romance between Ella and Knight, she failed. This book has Flint written all over it.

As much as I love a good fantasy story, there was very little to love about the version of Tir Na Nog presented in this book. It is a frightening place filled with monsters that Ella was able to see even when she lived in the orphanage on Earth. The fae kingdom is ruled by a heartless queen, and everyone in the land is out to get Ella and her companions by using her name to steal her soul or calling Flint out for being banished after he committed a crime that the book never reveals. There are several times where the characters jump through portals to return to Earth, but even those parts feel rushed or unimportant. Normally, I love stories that bring magic into the real world, but in this case, it seemed like the only thing the fae brought with them was trouble. The book was pretty short overall, yet it seemed to drag endlessly during the time that Ella spends exploring Tir Na Nog with Flint and Knight. It felt more like it was about a bunch of fugitives on the run than an ordinary girl discovering a magical land.

At this time, I have little interest in reading the next book in the Starlight Fae series. Ella's amnesia in Day of Wishes and Wonder is a huge detriment to the story that gives little motivation to know or care about her relationships with Flint and Knight and her connection to Tir Na Nog. I have yet to read something else by Anne Stryker that resonates with me in such a powerful way as Crumbling Towers, even though that book also ended with a cliffhanger. As much as I appreciate that this book incorporates some obscure fae mythology, I do not feel that it adds anything new nor does it contain the same innocent undertones that modern faery stories incorporate. If you are a fan of the dark lore of Tir Na Nog and the fae, you might enjoy this book. However, as someone who loves stories about ordinary girls who discover enchanted worlds, it has little appeal to me.


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