4 out of 5 stars
I received an ARC of this work.
Eden has had enough of being a genie. She is constantly stuck inside the lamp, only getting to see the sky when she is briefly summoned to grant wishes. Her only entertainment is tricking the mortals who are wishing, a pastime frowned upon by her genie teachers. When she finally sees a chance to escape, she takes it… and lands buried in a California beach. A couple of kids her age dig her out and give her a place to stay. At first she revels in the freedom, but it turns out her vacation has disrupted the genie world more than she thought. Her teachers have called in some genie alumni to come and persuade her to get back to her genie destiny, while other former genies want to grab the lamp and power for themselves. Eden has to decide which of the two groups will earn her loyalty, even if neither offer the true freedom she craves.
This book puts a lot of detail into the genie mythos that is usually missing. Like: where do genies come from? Are they ever freed? What do they do between wishes? How do lamps end up travelling? Wouldn’t you just pass it to a friend once you were done and keep all the wishes in the family?
In this world, Genies have to grant 999 wishes, and the 1000th wish sets them free to live on earth as immortal, beautiful creatures. When one genie is done, another is born to take her place. They are trained by two teachers and spend most of their time stuck in the lamp. There are certain restrictions on wishes (like no raising the dead), and the lamp randomly appears somewhere on earth once the last user is done with it. Crowl did a great job bulking up her story with these kinds of details. She has obviously put some thought into this whole genie gig and weaves it nicely into her narrative.
Eden isn’t a hugely complex character, but this is a junior novel so I did not expect a huge amount of introspection from a 12 year old genie. Eden is forced to make a difficult decision at the end of the book, however, and Crowl did not introduce some sort of deus ex machina to take the problem away before the protagonist has to face it. I really appreciate her showing that even a young protagonist must sometimes make hard decisions and not everyone gets a complete happy ever after. Eden is brave, smart, and just starting to rebel so will be very identifiable for a mid-elementary level readers.
This book is mostly action as Eden and her new friends dodge various groups of determined ex-genies. I found it a bit short, but should be just right for the intended audience. There is no romance, but there is friendship. The premise of someone their age having wish-granting abilities should be enough to hook younger fantasy readers. I would send this confidently out to younger library patrons who like their stories filled with magic.