Of Metal and Wishes has the tropes from Phantom of the Opera: a scarred boy, a handsome boy, a beautiful girl, prejudice, creativity, and the desire to protect the ones we love. I have a little group of Phantom lovers, including my daughter, who will love this book. There is a lot of drama in this story,; it’s full of romance, carnage, political rebellion, prejudice, violence, illness and predators, but no music.
Wen works with her father, a doctor, at the slaughter house, ever since the death of her mother. He’s a compassionate man, who has debt because he is unwilling for his patients to go without the medicine they need. But he and Wen are more like strangers, both lonely. The workers pray and leave offerings to the Ghost, someone who was killed at the slaughter house years go. After Wen challenges Ghost to prove he exists, a rude new worker is badly injured in an accident, leaving Wen struggling with her feelings of guilt and responsibility. As she seeks to undo, or alleviate, the effects of her wish, she falls in love with another new worker, who is not of her own culture, risking her reputation along the way.
Devastated by the death of her Shakespearean-actor father, Esti Legard moves to a tropical island for her senior year in high school, where she finds herself torn between a mysterious, masked mentor and a seductive island boy, as she tries to escape the overpowering shadow of her famous father.
I often get frustrated at love triangles in YA books; two hot guys pining after a girl who doesn’t believe she’s pretty or worthy. This triangle has one hot guy, a guy swathed in black and masks, and a girl who can act and has some confidence in her abilities. This felt like a modern version of Phantom of the Opera without the singing, set in the Caribbean. I truly understood the attraction to both guys, knew which one I wanted Esti to chose, but understood the dilemma. I even teared up a bit at the end over her choice. That hasn’t happened in a long time for me.