Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Goodreads link: (click here)
What's it about?
After Wen's mother passes away, she must leave her old life behind. She has no choice but to leave her cozy cottage in the town to live with her father where he works as a doctor in the slaughterhouse. Instead of making beautiful dresses, she is now learning to stitch up wounds on the flesh of workers who have the misfortune of being mauled by the dangerous machinery on the killing floor. This is not the life she envisioned for herself, but if she keeps to herself and tries to blend in she hopes to make the best of her situation. The living and working conditions in the slaughterhouse are terrible and it is a difficult life, but the workers believe there is a Ghost that inhabits the building who grants wishes and helps to make things a little better. Of course, the Ghost can also exact vengeance, or so people believe. Wen, however, does not believe that there is a Ghost. At least not until she challenges him to prove he exists. When one of the Noor factory workers publicly assaults and humiliates her, Wen asks the Ghost for help, she asked to be impressed. Soon after that, the boy who attacked her is involved in a horrifying accident.
Wen never wanted to see anyone hurt, so her guilt leads her to befriending and helping the Noor. They are not at all as she had been told while growing up. She's always been warned that the Noor were dangerous and barbaric, but as she gets to know them, she sees only kind and caring people who are desperate for a better life. Perhaps she is more like them than she thought possible. Things become even more complicated when Wen begins to fall for Melik, the handsome and charismatic leader of the Noor. Never before has she felt the way Melik makes her feel. Their relationship is looked down upon because her people, the Itanyai, think they are better than the Noor. Wen is driving a wedge between herself and her friends, but she is sure she's doing the right thing. But, there is someone else who does not approve of Wen's new friends. The Ghost.
The Ghost of the slaughterhouse is more than just a legend. He is real, and he's been following Wen for a long time. Wen's curiosity about this mysterious Ghost draws her into his world. As she learns more about him and what lead to him "haunting" the slaughterhouse, she feels bad for him. He invites her into his world, leaving her awed by its heartbreaking beauty and gruesome sadness. She knows he's lonely and that, for the most part, he means well, but there is something dark inside of him that could possibly be very deadly.
Tensions rise between the factory workers and the bosses as horrible accidents are occurring on the killing floor. All Wen wants is to protect those who deserve it and to freely love whoever she wants, but the factory is about to explode around her, and she may lose it all. Love may not be enough, especially since she doesn't know who to trust.
Brava! Brava! Bravissima! Wow! This Phantom of the Opera retelling is absolutely spectacular! This is one of those books that makes me wish for amnesia so I can read it again for the first time. It's magical without any magic...the words are magic. At times, the macabre beauty of this book made me weep. Of Metal and Wishes is glorious, terrifying, poignant and heart-wrenchingly tender. It preserves the emotion and feel of Phantom, yet is still it's own unique story. The romance is breathtaking, and that's not just a figure of speech, my breath was literally taken away more than once. Sarah Fine's writing is absolutely gorgeous and she created characters that make you feel real emotions. Her imagination and pure skill as a writer are astounding. I admit, I was nervous about it being set in a slaughterhouse, but trust me, it works (I'm a vegan). I am on a book high and I can't stop singing "Angel of Music" (I studied opera, so I'm not hurting anyone's ears).This is now on my list of favorite books ever.