Well Wished

Well Wished

3.9 11
by Franny Billingsley

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"A coin for passage to your heart's desire," says Agnes, Guardian of the Wishing Well in the village of Bishop Mayne. "That is the first rule." But Nuria doesn't think she needs a wish. Wishing on the Well is dangerous. Wishes often go wrong. That's why there are no other children around. A wish-gone-wrong took them all away. But now, because her grandfather, the Avy,…  See more details below


"A coin for passage to your heart's desire," says Agnes, Guardian of the Wishing Well in the village of Bishop Mayne. "That is the first rule." But Nuria doesn't think she needs a wish. Wishing on the Well is dangerous. Wishes often go wrong. That's why there are no other children around. A wish-gone-wrong took them all away. But now, because her grandfather, the Avy, has wished for them to come back, Nuria is sure that the one thing she wants—a friend her own age—will soon be there.

"One wish each lifetime," says Agnes. "One cycle of the moon to repent and call it back. That is the second rule." Only a fool would make a wish that needs to be called back, Nuria thinks. But that's before she meets Catty Winter, who cannot walk, whose legs are mysteriously crippled. "Make a wish for me," Catty pleads. And Nuria is tempted. But what if the wish goes wrong?

"And for that cycle of the moon your lips are locked in this: To no one may you speak of your wish. To no one but to me, for your wish is my wish too. That is the third rule." Nuria has given little thought to the third rule. But there come moments when she wishes it did not exist. The Wishing Well, she is trickier than anyone has known.

The Wishing Well in Bishop Mayne has a mind of its own and creates problems for all who try to use its power. Few have gotten anything but misery from it. Knowing this, however, does not keep Nuria, in a time of dire need, from trying to accomplish what few others have managed.

Beauty and greed, warmth and cold, walk hand in hand in this unusual fantasy to create an adventure filled with friendship, challenge, and the magic of love.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The old saying "Be careful of what you wish for" gets a bizarre twist in this first novel about a town where all the children have vanished. Nuria, new in town, begs her grandfather to use his one wish at the Wishing Well to bring the children back, but when he does, only one child shows up. Wheelchair-bound Catty is not exactly the kind of friend Nuria was wishing forshe's selfish and duplicitous. And when Nuria asks the Wishing Well, "I wish Catty had a body just like mine," the sneaky well simply switches the girls' bodies, leading Nuria to desperate measures to get someone to recognize her. Despite the interesting premise, Billingsley is not entirely successful in anchoring a logical fantasy world or in creating wholly compelling characters. Readers never know much about Nuria's grandfather, who appears to play a prominent role in the community, or why any of the residents bother to stay in such a cruel and arbitrary village. Nor does the author supply much of a picture of what kind of world this is, modern or medieval, ageless or mortal, wildly magical or commonplace. The language falls into stilted storybook cadence, neither contemporary nor ancient: "Oh, it was cold out there, bitter and cold. The wind screamed about her ears and tore inside her dress as though it would flay the flesh from her bones." There are some promising elements here, but not the passion and believability essential for good fantasy. Ages 8-12. (May)
Children's Literature - Kathleen Karr
Orphaned Nuria has recently moved to an unusual village to live with her grandfather, the Avy. The village is the home of a wishing well with an attitude. One wish is absolutely guaranteed each occupant, but the way that wish is interpreted is something else entirely. Thus far the well has made every other child in the village disappear, and Nuria is hungry for a friend. How the strong-minded heroine tries to trick the well into an honest wish, is foiled, and tries yet again is the meat of this nicely evocative fairy tale.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6An unusual first novel with folkloric overtones, this fast-moving story of friendship sought and found, and wishes gone awry captures readers' interest while retaining a will-o'-the-wisp sense of mystery. Characters are few, simply and clearly drawn, while plot twists are simultaneously surprising and believable. Nuria, a lonely orphan, has finally found a home with her beloved grandfather, known as the Avy. Wealthy, crippled Catty, whose disability occasionally makes her irritable and demanding, is the perfect foil for Nuria's sturdy charm. Her empathy for Catty, along with her strong will, self-confidence, and still fragile sense of belonging, lead Nuria to make a wish on the magical well despite the Avy's repeated warnings. Once the wish is made, Nuria finds herself trapped in Catty's body and forbidden by the well's workings to solicit help from her grandfather. Careful planning, determination, and intelligence are required for Nuria to reverse her own wish and help to sort out the tangled wishes previously made by Catty and the Avy. Billingsley's carefully constructed world is a convincing one that closely mirrors our own but finds room for a unique kind of mischievous magic. Young readers who like feisty orphans, matter-of-fact magic, literary references, and happy endings will enjoy this fantasy.Lisa Dennis, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Kirkus Reviews
The intersection of magic and reality is somewhat bumpy in this intriguing first novel. Nuria, 11, wishes she had a friend. Orphaned, she has come to live with her grandfather, the Avy, in the magical town of Bishop Mayne. The town's central feature is a wishing well, but wishes have a way of going dangerously awry: One wish went wrong and every child in town disappeared. The Avy attempts to wish them back but succeeds with only one child, Catty Winter, who is crippled. Nuria hasn't the knack for friendship; the Avy is the first person she's known who has really loved her, and she's jealous when he tries to include Catty. Defying his orders to stay away from the well, Nuria makes a wish—that Catty could have a body just like her own. That's exactly what Catty gets; Nuria, meanwhile, is left with Catty's damaged limbs. Lively, imaginative Nuria, with her very real insecurities, is an interesting character, as is the warm, eccentric Avy; Catty's own pressing agendas are both poignant and believable. The story stumbles only in the delineation of the magical apparatus, spelled out abruptly in the opening pages before readers have their bearings, and leaving little doubt as to the direction events will take.

For all the novelistic trimmings, Billingsley's debut is a fairy tale, elongated and embellished, but not necessarily improved.

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Product Details

Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.66(h) x 0.49(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Leonid Gore moved to the US from his native Belarus in 1991. He has illustrated many beloved books for children and is also the author and illustrator of Danny’s First Snow. Mr. Gore lives in Oakland, New Jersey. Visit him online at LeonidGore.com.

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