Wicked as You Wish: A Hundred Names for Magic, Book 1

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Wicked as You Wish: A Hundred Names for Magic, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Chaotic save-the-kingdom mashup tale with rampaging ogres.

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age 13+
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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Many references to fairy tales and classic stories: Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Robin Hood, The Sword in the Stone, and more. Alternative history imagines countries with magic figuring into actual world wars. I.C.E. depicted here with talk of poor treatment of kids in detention centers. Much info on Filipino culture, history, and delicious food. An in-class debate about Dante's Divine Comedy.

Positive Messages

Strong messages about valuing friends and family, forgiveness and redemption. Plus a question about what drives us more: fate or our own choices?

Positive Role Models & Representations

Main character Tala is not the leader here. She feels unsure of her powers or how she will contribute to her best friend Alex's safety when they are on the run. She slowly accepts her powers at first, but then rejects them in the end and lies to Alex. She does work to forgive her father for his past. Diverse characters include two Filipino families and people from many other backgrounds. LGBTQ characters are well represented: The prince is gay, and one of his protectors uses they/them pronouns.

Violence

Lots of magical fighting with swords, knives, staffs, a scythe, fire, and an electrified whip against ice women, ice wolves, zombies, shades (malicious shadows), giant toads, and rampaging ogres. Not usually gory, but once a severed ogre arm keeps fighting by itself, a giant toad tongue is cut in pieces, and those ice creatures need to be stabbed repeatedly to do any damage. Also a man frozen in place is slowly dismembered while he watches in horror. Story told of a boy who's abused by I.C.E. agents and then abused in foster care homes, and then nearly commits suicide. Stories of war with many casualties and of whole villages where people froze to death.

Sex

Kissing, straight and same-sex.

Language

A wide array of swear words used fairly often, though "f--k" is used rarely. It's also pretty easy to guess that there's lots of colorful swearing in Tagalog by the Filipino characters, even without knowing the language.

Consumerism

Repeated mentions of Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" song.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Many teens drunk and passed out at a high school party -- the main characters do not partake. An adult drinks beer.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Wicked as You Wish is the first fantasy book in the A Hundred Names for Magic series by the author of the Bone Witch trilogy. This story borrows characters from familiar classic tales (see if you can name them all) and throws in many modern touches like magical spells you can buy for your cellphone. A team of diverse teens (and some wily Filipino senior citizens) fight with swords, knives, staffs, a scythe, fire, and an electrified whip against ice women, ice wolves, zombies, "shades" (malicious shadows), giant toads, and rampaging ogres. Things usually don't get too gory, but a severed ogre arm keeps fighting by itself, and a man frozen in place is slowly dismembered while he watches in horror. A teen recounts his abuse in I.C.E. detention and foster care. Many teens drink at a party and pass out, but the main characters do not partake. There's straight and same-sex kissing (LGBTQ representation includes the prince and one other important character) and quite a bit of swearing, though "f--k" is uttered rarely. Tala, the main character, is not much of a leader in this story yet. She doubts herself and her abilities and eventually lets her best friend down. But there are some nice moments of characters honoring their families and seeking forgiveness for past wrongs. Descriptions of Filipino food will give readers some serious cravings.

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Teen, 14 years old Written byAPotterheadParxie September 13, 2020

What's the story?

In WICKED AS YOU WISH, Tala has an interesting best friend in her small Arizona town: the exiled prince of Avalon. Alex lives next door with a large Filipino family who knows the magic that can help protect him from the Snow Queen who froze his castle and his homeland and killed his parents. Tala is learning to protect her BFF as well. Her family curse is to repel magic. Her skills come in handy after a high school basketball game and bonfire when "shades" (malicious shadows) and an ice maiden attack and high schoolers begin roaming the town as the zombie-like Deathless. Clearly, the Snow Queen knows where Alex is, and it's time to hightail it out of town. A team of warrior teens arrives to escort them to a magic-mirror portal, but it won't be that easy. They'll have to face I.C.E. agents and some rampaging ogres first.

Is it any good?

If you enjoy mysterious prophesies and lost kingdoms and wild magic and fairy tale homages, you'll find them all here, but it's way too much of a good thing in this chaotic story. Most fantasy tales with a quest of some sort offer a main character a prophecy. Here, a table full of characters get their difficult futures read. Even the most careful reader will lose track of who's marrying someone dead and who's supposed to find a sacred weapon and who needs to learn to swim. Most stories explain the brand of magic their main character will wield to save the day. In Wicked as You Wish, everyone has their own magic and their own weapons, and cellphones do crazy spells, and it's all explained in so much exposition that the storytelling suffers. And then there are all the references to Snow White and Robin Hood and the Cheshire cat and King Arthur ... the list goes on. Again, so many shout-outs need to be explained, and this slows down the story.

Author Rin Chupeco is full of amazing ideas -- that's obvious. She should have saved at least half of them for another book series. That would give her and her characters more space to tell a great story. There's much potential here, and let's hope it's fulfilled in the sequels.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the I.C.E. agents in Wicked as You Wish. By making them the bad guys, the author is making her political views known. How often can you gauge a fantasy writer's views about current events in what you read?

  • If your cellphone could cast spells, what would you want it to do?

  • Will you read more in this series? What do you think is next for Tala and Alex?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy

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