A Comb of Wishes by Lisa Stringfellow
Publisher: Quill Tree Books/Harper Collins
Number of pages: 272
Publishing: February 8th, 2022
Source: Netgalley and Publisher via SparkPress
Opening Line: "I say Crick, you say Crack."
Twelve-year-old Kela loved collecting sea glass with her mom, turning them into pieces of jewelry, but ever since her mom died in a car accident, she hasn't felt the same passion for creating new pieces. A part of Kela feels guilty about the last moments she spent with her mother, and the harsh words she spoke to her mom as she was leaving the house that day. Kela was upset with her mom because she had promised to take her to the store for supplies, and her mom instead rushed off to record stories for the Caribbean folktales that she was collecting for a project at work. Since then, Kela hasn't even wanted to dive with her pop and has been pushing her best friend, Lissy away, wanting to spend time alone and reflecting on how much she misses her mom.
Then one day, Lissy gets Kela to agree to take her on one of her scavenger hunts for sea glass, and while exploring Kela is drawn to an unexpected sound coming from the protected nature park near their homes. Despite their parents having warned them to avoid the park in the past, the girls venture in and Kela ends up following the sound down a sink hole, where she finds an ancient box. Kela knows that it is wrong to take any items found from protected land, or worse not to report it to the office of antiquities, but the draw of the box is too great and so she puts it into her bag and heads home. Meanwhile, Ophidia, a Seawitch becomes aware that her box has been taken, inside is an ancient comb, an object that holds significant value to her. Once Kela opened the box, the magic within required she make a bargain with the Seawitch, a wish in exchange for what Kela has taken. Unfortunately, their bargain doesn't go as planned when the comb is stolen, and Kela isn't sure she can retrieve it in time to live up to her part of the bargain with Ophidia.
A Comb of Wishes is told between the alternating perspectives of Kela and Ophidia which allows the reader to really appreciate the voices of the antagonist and protagonist, and what specifically motives each character. For Kela it's her love for her mom and the guilt of their last encounter together, a sense of needing to make amends. Ophidia's motivations are more complex and relate to more ancient reasons. She's been amongst the ocean since 1667, so she has some unresolved issues from her past and a small desire for revenge. Truthfully, Ophidia can be quite frightening, not what you would think of from a mermaid or Seawitch. At the same time, the descriptions of her make her sound beautiful and mysterious. I would love to know more about her, even now as I reflect back at reading the story. I so enjoy a story that includes beautiful prose, and it's one of things that I so enjoyed while reading, the way the author described the setting and the characters. She paints vivid pictures of the island and the tight knit family that Kela has around her. Then there's these moments where a hurricane is ravishing the island and the rain is pouring down. I live around tranquil and slow-moving rivers and streams versus the ocean setting of the book, but the way that she describes the shimmering water, the deep blues and the surrounding Caribbean Island really brought the story to life for me. It's moments of calm and then violent storms. I also enjoyed the emphasis the author placed on storytelling and Caribbean folklore, with Seafolk/mermaids. The unique way that chapters began as the stories would with "Crick, Crack," to draw the listeners attention and ended with, "The story is put on you" where the listener is to interpret their own meaning of the story. Such a wonderful fantasy debut!
**A huge thank you to the publisher and SparkPress for the E-ARC**
Glad you liked A Comb of Wishes so much. I have on reserve at the library, and you've got me super excited to read it.
Yeah, hope you enjoy reading it Natalie!!
It sounds really good, definitely one to watch out for!
Ahh, I am really looking forward to this one! Waiting for my hold to come in. I love the idea of alternating perspectives including the antagonist.
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