This love story for the ages, set in a reimagined industrial Asia, is a little dark, a bit breathless, and completely compelling. A “grisly and satisfying” tale (Publishers Weekly) inspired by The Phantom of the Opera.
Sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic, housed in a slaughterhouse staffed by the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor. Wen often hears the whisper of a ghost in the slaughterhouse, a ghost who grants wishes to those who need them most. And after one of the Noor humiliates Wen, the ghost grants an impulsive wish of hers—brutally.
Guilt-ridden, Wen befriends the Noor, including the outspoken leader, a young man named Melik. At the same time, she is lured by the mystery of the ghost. As deadly accidents fuel tensions within the factory, Wen is torn between her growing feelings for Melik, who is enraged at the sadistic factory bosses and the prejudice faced by his people at the hand of Wen’s, and her need to appease the ghost, who is determined to protect her against any threat—real or imagined. Will she determine whom to trust before the factory explodes, taking her down with it?
About the Author
Sarah Fine is the author of Of Metal and Wishes, Of Dreams and Rust, The Impostor Queen, The Cursed Queen, The True Queen, and The Guards of the Shadowlands series. She was born on the West Coast, raised in the Midwest, and is now firmly entrenched on the East Coast. When she’s not writing, she’s working as a child psychologist. Visit her at SarahFineBooks.com.
Read an Excerpt
Of Metal and Wishes
IF I BELIEVED in the devil, I’d give him credit for the shift whistle at the Gochan One factory. Its shriek rips me from a dream of the wind whispering through flowering dogwood trees.
I fold my pillow over my ears, crush it down, and think of my mother singing me to sleep. She always used to, until her voice faded to a raspy croak and it hurt her to speak. Now there’s no music in my life except in my memories, but that’s okay, because I live there as much as I can.
The shrill of the whistle goes on and on, calling to the workers. It’s as much a welcome as a warning; if any of them are still in their bunks, it’s going to come out of their pay. But I don’t have to worry about that. My father runs the factory’s medical clinic, and it’s always open. We live above it, and when people need the doctor, they ring a little bell outside the clinic door. When it’s an emergency, they crash right in.
The awful sound ends as abruptly as it began, and I let the pillow fall away from my face. My father is standing a few feet from my sleeping pallet. He raises the window curtain and looks toward the front gate of the factory compound, then lifts his pocket watch to the light. It’s a heavy old thing, too fancy to be clipped to his sagging trousers with patched knees, but my mother gave it to him when he graduated from medical school, and he’s worn it every day since. He flips it shut with a soft click. “Five minutes earlier than yesterday. That’s a rather dirty trick.”
I pull my blanket over my head.
A month ago my life changed forever. Now, instead of living in a warm cottage with a lovely garden, I live on the factory compound. Instead of sitting in a kitchen and inhaling the earthy scent of stewing vegetables, I sit in a cafeteria and pick at starchy rice or thin soup shoveled from enormous vats. Instead of reading the classics, I read medical texts. Instead of the feather lightness of my mother’s touch, I feel the dry, antiseptic rasp of my father’s.
Instead of embroidering silk, I embroider skin.
I actually don’t mind that part.
My father is looking down at me when I finally peek out from under the blanket. The lines of his round face are deeper in the shadows of almost dawn, and his brown eyes look as inky black as his hair. “You’re going to have to get used to it, Wen.”
“Don’t remind me, please,” I whisper.
He winces. “I’ll make tea.” He walks from the room.
I sit up and swing my feet to the floor. There’s a chill in the air and I shiver. I pull my braid from the neck of my nightgown. It’s a thick black rope, long enough to wrap around my throat in my sleep.
I get ready quickly, pulling on my forest green dress with the intricate embroidered vines coiling at the neckline and down the sleeves, which are thinning at the elbows. I need to patch them up before they become holey. I should go to the company store and buy myself some practical clothes, like the slacks and button-ups worn by the girls who work at the textile mill in Gochan Three. Here in Gochan One, the slaughterhouse, it’s all men in overalls and rubber aprons. The only women in this factory are the secretaries and office girls, and they wear simple brown dresses, not ones that are embroidered and colorful like mine. I know I look pretentious and stupid and out of place, but my mother made this dress. She made all my clothes, actually. Her hands touched every stitch of this skirt, this bodice. She lined it with delicate pink buds and emerald leaves, gilded each of them with golden thread, made them too beautiful to be real. She pulled it tight at my waist and said I was getting a nice figure. She chose the color because it looked good on my toasted-almond skin. When I touch this dress, I touch her. When I wear this dress, she is with me.
I pull my thick apron on over it because I don’t want to stain it with whatever’s going to land on me today. Yesterday one of the slaughterhouse workers threw up in my lap.
My father and I eat a breakfast of bread and hard cheese. We split the last apple from our small stash, the final gifts of the tree in our abandoned backyard behind the cottage on the Hill. We haven’t been back since we locked the doors the day after my mother’s funeral. It was her home, every inch of it, and it doesn’t seem right to be there when she’s not.
“The new workers are starting today,” my father says.
“I heard people grumbling about it in the cafeteria yesterday. They wanted the extra hours during feasting season. Why didn’t the bosses let them work more, if they wanted to?”
My father examines his apple. “It’s been a hard year, and Underboss Mugo was looking for a new way to cut costs. The Noor are the cheapest labor available.”
The Noor. They’re not like us, the Itanyai. My mother taught me never to trust them. I’ve never seen one around here because most of them live in the Yilat Province, over the Western Hills, but Mother had warned me that if I ever did have the misfortune to encounter a Noor, I should run in the other direction. She said they were more like animals than men.
Now some of them are coming to work at Gochan One.
The apple is mealy and dry, and I choke it down. “Have you ever met one?”
“Not until last night.” My father sips his tea.
“Isn’t the company afraid they’ll cause trouble?”
Father chuckles, but there’s little humor in it. “I think the only thing they want to do is work and earn money to send to their families. When their train arrived, all they looked was . . . defeated.”
And they’d had to stay on the train too, because they had lice. This morning they’re being processed. My father is in charge of their decontamination and medical examinations. I don’t get to assist because some of the processing involves their being naked, and he doesn’t want me to see that.
I help him prep, counting the cartons of noxious delousing powder and germ-killing soap, making sure we have enough. The Noor are being issued company clothes, too, and their old ones are being burned. Father tells me all of this is coming out of their pay, even though they haven’t started working yet.
A few workers come with handcarts to help Father with the supplies. As always, they give me funny, quizzical looks, like I’m some stray cat that wandered in off the streets of the Ring, the shops and neighborhoods that surround the three factory compounds of the Gochan complex. The Ring is almost a city, but not quite. It is as much a product of the Gochan industrial compounds as the meat of Gochan One, the war machines of Gochan Two, or the clothing of Gochan Three. It sprang up like a patch of clover around a pile of dung, fed by the money and jobs that trickle outward from the factories.
After my father leaves for his appointment with the lice-covered Noor, I focus on neatening already-neat things—lining up the gleaming plungers of the metal syringes, setting out clampers, and pulling the bowls and basins from our steam-powered cleaning machine. It makes a terrible racket but is much better than having to wash each of them by hand. Next I sweep the floor. I have to do this every day because there always seems to be metal shavings at the base of the walls, and sometimes in little piles under chairs and tables. It must come through the vents from Gochan Two, which churns out monsters of steel to defend our country from enemies outside our borders . . . and within them. We probably all have metal shavings embedded in our lungs. If you cut us open, we’ll sparkle in the light.
When I finish my chores, I go into my father’s office. It’s too far to walk to the school I’ve attended all my life, and too expensive anyway now that my mother’s income is gone, so I am finishing my education here, under my father’s instruction. He seems pleased that I have taken to his lessons. Today on his desk I find the cold, pink foreleg of a pig resting on a tray. Arranged beside it is a set of clampers, a curved stitching needle, some suturing thread, and a scalpel. Father left no note, but I know what he expects me to do.
I settle myself on his chair and catch my reflection in the scalpel’s blade before I slice it along the leg, cutting to the bone, rending flesh from hoof to joint. Enough to keep me occupied with precise angles and tidy knots, to allow me to forget everything beyond the boundaries of the steel tray for a little while. Years of living up to my mother’s rigid standards, of pulling and repeating delicate embroidery stitches until I got them just right, until my fingers blistered and then bled, are paying off now. Not really in the way I planned, but that’s all right. I thread the suturing needle and grip it with the clampers. Eyeing the gash, I position the tip and poke it straight down into the flaccid tissue, then rotate my wrist, driving the point upward on the opposite edge of the wound. I will make these stitches perfect and do both my parents proud.
I am rewarding myself with a long stretch after completing the final knot when I notice the cloth pouch on the table next to the door. My father has forgotten his stethoscope. He needs it to listen to the Noor’s lungs and make sure they are not bringing illness into our compound. And if I take it to him, I could perhaps catch a glimpse of a Noor. Despite my mother’s warnings, or perhaps because of them, I cannot help but be curious about what these barbarian men look like.
I strip off my apron and hang the sign that says the clinic is closed for the lunch hour. The overhead lights buzz like bees as I tread the main hallway that leads to the cargo bays and pens in the southeast corner of the compound, where the factory connects to the rail line. This is how the cows arrive at Gochan to meet their fate, and it is how the Noor arrived too.
As I go through the heavy door that leads to the yard, a huge partitioned outdoor area with a corrugated metal overhang, I am greeted by the anxious lowing of cattle and the clatter of hooves. A train must have arrived, and the cows are being herded into the narrow, fenced lane that guides them to the killing floor. The air is thick with the stench of manure and urine-soaked hay, and I wrinkle my nose as I listen for my father’s voice beyond the stained, rusted metal of the partitions.
A thickset young man in gray pants and a neatly pressed shirt strides out from an opening between the flimsy steel walls. He raises his head from his clipboard and pauses when he sees me. “You’re not supposed to be here,” he says, but not in a harsh way. He looks over his shoulder and frowns before turning back to me. Shuffling footsteps and mutterings I do not understand come from the makeshift chamber he just exited, as does the faintly astringent odor of delousing powder.
I hold up the pouch. “I need to give this stethoscope to my father.”
“You’re Dr. Guiren’s daughter. Wen, right?” The young man smiles and stands a bit straighter, pushing out his chest. “I’m Lati. I’m in charge of making sure all the Noor are where they’re supposed to be.”
Lati looks only a few years older than I am, and the fact that he gets to wear slacks and carry a clipboard—instead of wearing a rubber apron and wielding a butcher’s knife—means he is from a middle-class family like mine. He seems proud of himself, though it sounds like his job is to take roll and little more. Still, I return his smile, which feels stiff and unfamiliar after a month of stifled tears. “And where are they supposed to be?”
He tips his head toward the main hallway, allowing me to see the comb lines through his slightly oiled hair. “On their way to the cafeteria.”
No sooner has he said it than two men trudge through the gap in the partitions. The smell of delousing powder makes my throat burn, and these men are covered in it, white patches and smears on their hands and faces, a dusting of it on their eyelashes. I squint at them with stinging eyes and know immediately that they are Noor. They’re dressed like the rest of the workers, in brown overalls and white undershirts, but they don’t look like us. They are bigger, for one. Not by much, but most of these men stand a few inches taller than the average Itanyai. Their skin is tanned, but there’s a pinkish undertone that I’ve never seen in anyone around here. And their hair is so light, mostly muddy brown, not black and shiny like ours. Their eyes are also the color of street puddles, and they are red-rimmed and bloodshot and darting. I shrink back against the wall but continue to stare.
The Noor file out of the yard two by two and slowly walk toward the factory proper. Each of them has a paper tacked onto the shoulder of his shirt. Most of the papers are too high for me to read what’s written there, but I see a few—Altan, Erdem, Savas, Zeki—and realize what they are, foreign names for strange, foreign men. Some of the yard workers accompany them, carrying electric prods, as if the Noor were cattle instead of factory employees. It hardly seems necessary, because what my father said this morning appears to be true. The Noor do not look rebellious or dangerous now; they look tired.
The ones at the front have deeply lined faces and hunched shoulders, but most of the Noor appear no older than twenty. Lati reaches my side as they begin to pass me. One, a boy with a mole on his cheek, sneezes loudly, then wipes his dripping nose on his work shirt, leaving a cloudy trail of mucus and delousing powder along his sleeve. Another, an impish-looking boy with sharp cheekbones and a scar that cuts through his left eyebrow, scratches his crotch. Then his muddy eyes find me, and he winks. I gasp, clutching my father’s stethoscope to my chest, as if that will protect me.
“You must be very careful of them, Wen,” says Lati, stepping in front of me to block their view. His gaze slides to the embroidery on my cuffs, and he follows a twisting vine of flowers until it entwines with others on my bodice. “It’s likely they’ve never seen a girl who looks as fine as you do.”
I bow my head, nearly as embarrassed by his overly familiar tone as I am about the rudeness of the Noor. I know he is trying to be kind, but it is too presumptuous, too intimate, and I have only just met him. “I’ll be careful,” I say, glancing at him and then at the horde of Noor. The line seems endless. “How many of them are there?”
“Just short of two hundred,” he replies, checking his clipboard. “All from one village. They must breed like pigs. They look like them too.” He says it loud, and when he sees my shocked expression, he laughs. “Don’t worry—they can’t understand us.”
As he reassures me, two more Noor emerge from the yard, and I am completely distracted by them. Both are young—one looks Lati’s age, maybe eighteen or nineteen, and the other can’t be older than fourteen, which means he must have lied to get his work permit. Both boys are taller than the others, though the younger one looks like a weed, while the older one looks more like a birch, lean but solid. But what astounds me is that their hair is the color of the rust spots on the metal walls. I had no idea hair could actually be that color. They don’t have much of it, though. Like the rest of the Noor, they look like sheared sheep. I wonder if they had to pay for these haircuts, or if the company gave them those for free.
“I have to escort these pigs to their troughs,” says Lati, “but perhaps you should take the side hallway? So you don’t have to be near them.”
The older rust-head glances at me over Lati’s shoulder. He has eerie, jade-colored eyes, and before he turns away, I note a spark of cleverness and comprehension in their pale depths that makes my stomach tighten. Lati clears his throat, catching my attention again. “Give me the stethoscope,” he says. “Your father is still examining the final few, and I’m sure he’ll be happy to use something other than a tube of greased paper to listen to their lungs.”
I hand him the pouch just as one of the passing Noor spits on the floor at my feet. I step back quickly as Lati grabs the Noor by the shoulder. “That’s worthy of a fine,” snaps Lati, checking the paper on the young man’s shoulder, then conspicuously placing a check on one of the rows on his clipboard. He shoves the stunned-looking fellow, who bounces off one of his friends. The other Noor in line give us wary looks while the yard workers brandish their cattle prods. Suddenly feeling nauseated, I decide to follow Lati’s instructions to take the side hallway. Before I reach the door, Lati calls out in a cheerful voice, “It was nice to meet you, Wen!”
I give him a tight smile and a small curtsy, then slip through the door and find myself in a dark corridor. My hand slides along the wall, seeking a light switch and finding none. For a moment I consider going back into the yard, but the memory of the rude Noor and of Lati’s eager familiarity keep me where I am. A murky hallway cannot harm me, but being seen as too friendly certainly could. “I’m not afraid,” I say, though I don’t know why.
There’s no one here to listen.
At least, I thought so. Somewhere, deep in the inky darkness, there is a scuttling, clicking noise that makes my toes curl. Rats, maybe, though the sounds are a bit more rhythmic than rodents usually manage. “Hello?”
My voice is still echoing when the bulbs snap to life, first the ones above me, then the ones ahead, lighting my path. Though I should be relieved, my heart thumps like a rabbit in a snare. “Is someone here?” I call out.
The only answer is the low buzz of electricity, and again, perhaps I should find that soothing, but all I want to do is get out of this hallway. I hurry along, holding my skirt above my ankles so I don’t trip myself up, jogging past little piles of metal shavings and closed doors leading to unknown rooms. As the administrative hallway comes into view ahead, one of the doors opens and out steps old Hazzi, who scrubs the floors and fixes the leaky toilets of Gochan One. His gnarled fingers curl over the handle of his mop, which is resting in a wheeled bucket he pushes along the floor. Blinking, he peers up at the lights, and then his eyes widen as he sees me coming.
“Thank you for turning them on,” I say as I approach. Hazzi has been to see my father a few times for the pain in his joints, and though he cannot pay, my father does whatever he can to make the old man more comfortable—and able to keep his job here at the factory.
Hazzi shakes his head. “I didn’t turn them on, Miss Wen.” He smiles, showing a gap where his bottom front teeth used to be. “The Ghost must have thought you needed a little light.”
I laugh. “I told you last week that I don’t believe in ghosts.” Which makes me different from nearly everyone else in this factory. They give up their hard-earned money and food to make offerings to the Ghost of Gochan One. They write their silly prayers and leave them at his altar at the front of the factory. They truly believe that he responds. I think he is nothing more than the bundling together of the useless wishes of people who must spend their days in a terrible place like this. “But it was a fine trick all the same, Hazzi.” Fine enough to make my heart speed.
“No trick,” he says with a raspy chuckle. “And you must be respectful of our Ghost. He is not all about the light. He brings darkness, too.”
“That’s certainly a useful myth to scare the workers into behaving.” I nod at his cart and bucket. “Can I help you carry something to the front?”
“We can’t splash wastewater on your fine dress,” he says kindly as he rolls his bucket away from my skirts. “And it’s not a myth, you know. A few years ago there was a young worker who proclaimed he was going to find out who takes the offerings from the Ghost’s altar every night. His many prayers had not been answered, see, and he had decided the Ghost didn’t exist. He was determined to prove it too. Right up until the day he disappeared. Atanyo was his name. I remember him well.”
I arch an eyebrow. “Are you sure Atanyo didn’t simply run away?”
Hazzi purses his lips. “Suppose he might’ve, though I’m not sure why he would, since he had a good enough life here and a family out in the Ring. If you ask me, he challenged the wrong specter and it devoured him. You shouldn’t anger our Ghost, Miss Wen. He hears everything and can do anything. You should be grateful he favors you.”
“Please, Hazzi. Forgive me, but I’m not superstitious.” I try not to laugh again as I gesture at a set of light switches on the wall not two feet from his broom cupboard. “And I think you’re playing with me.”
The corner of his mouth twitches as he shuffles over to the switches and flips all of them down at once. The lights stay on. He flicks one switch up and down repeatedly, the sharp clicks echoing in the empty corridor. “These haven’t worked for months, and this hallway has been dark that whole time.” He grins at me. “Until you decided to walk this way.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Once a girl of high class and silk gowns, tragedy strikes and the remainder of Wen's family gets stuck in a sl<_>aughterhouse. Wen's father is the doctor, and Wen unwittingly lives off her father's paycheck. <br> Rumor has it that a ghost haunts the facility, the vengeful spirit of a deceased worker at the sl<_>aughterhouse. Wen scoffs at all things supernatural, closing her ears to 'such nonsense.' But one day, when Wen is humiliated by one of the dirty, for-hire labormen, she approaches the shrne of said ghost. While some ask for luck, Wen asks the ghost to impress her, to prove its existence. <br> She never thought this thoughtless wish could cause so much damage. So when Wen's wish is granted, she finds herself visiting the shrine more often. Soon, secret after secret is uncovered, until the foundations of Wen's world is stripped away. With every new thing she learns, she learns that her skies are painted, and they've been hiding their true colors all this time. How will she react? <p> I found this book pretty great. Not excellent, no: It was underdeveloped, a bit rushed. But I admire that Mrs. Fine is able to write a simple book like this - The plot isn't extravagant, after all. This could've happened - And still manage to steal my attention from the fancy fantasies out there. Most of all, I like that this doesn't end on a complete happily-ever-after. Of Metal and Wishes gets a 4.5 out of 5 stars.
The plot was maybe a little bit too disjointed for me. The love story could have used more development, the whole ghost being someone who controls his own monsters seemed a little too bizarre, like the author was grasping at ways to make the story more interesting instead of focusing on good prose. I love the unusual, so the thought of ghosts with this book intrigued me. Someone that was grievously injured and now "haunts" the factory? Yeah sounds cool, but the characters were too shallow and the story too disjointed. I never leave a book unfinished, but if I would do it again, I would leave it unfinished.
Of Metal and Wishes is an impressive re-telling of The Phantom of the Opera with an imaginative take on the story with characters and a plot that truly stand out. Reasons to Read: 1. A setting unlike any other: The fact that Of Metal and Wishes takes place in a slaughterhouse already sets it apart from nearly every book I've ever read. But I also liked how Sarah Fine included some elements with a steampunk and gothic feel to create an eerie, isolated world within the slaughterhouse. She doesn't shy away from the harsh reality of Wen's daily life and what she sees around her. There is racial tension (which plays a fairly significant part of the story) as well as issues relating to gender and social status. It's particularly interesting to see how those go hand-in-hand at times and overlap. The Industrial setting is also important for the plot, and hints at more to come. 2. Life-like characters: Wen isn't a stereotypical character. She has a strong personality and that's consistent in the book (which is important to me - it bothers me when characters act in a way that is seemingly out of character because it feels forced.) Likewise, the Ghost is an incredibly sympathetic character and one who shows remarkable development despite his situation. I'll admit that some of the secondary characters had fairly minor roles to play, and as a result they felt a tad underdeveloped. But they also struck me as realistic. I adored the romance in this book, because it builds achingly slow but that's PERFECT for the characters. It's the kind that never stopped playing with my heartstrings! 3. The Phantom of the Opera inspirations: There are a couple aspects of Phantom that are harder for me to understand and accept because they never really felt developed. Of Metal and Wishes doesn't suffer from this problem, and it's one thing I really loved about the book. The relationship between Wen and Melik felt so authentic, as did the unusual relationship between Wen and the Ghost. But for those of you who may not love Phantom as much as I do, or readers who may not be as familiar with it, this is still a perfectly enjoyable story. No background knowledge of Phantom is needed to appreciate this remarkable book. It's beautifully written in such a way that is clear to follow and descriptive. It's a story that stands on its own merits as opposed to relying on the original story by which it was inspired. Until I finished this book, I expected Of Metal and Wishes to be a standalone but I was very pleased to discover that it has a sequel set to release in 2015! I'm very pleased with that news. Yet at the same time, I loved that this book contains its own story. It felt finished by the end, but left a few loose threads hanging. And I'm so excited to see what happens next! ARC received from Simon & Schuster Canada for review; no other compensation received.
Very good. Interesting and easy to get into. You won't be able to stop reading. I will be reading the rest of the series (sequel and prequel in this trilogy)
I haven't read a good Phantom of the Opera retelling in a long, long time, and this is a great one. When I picked up this book, I assumed that only the over-arching plot would bear any resemblance to Phantom, and I was so incredibly glad to be proven wrong. The devil is in the details here, and I was very impressed by Sarah Fine's ability to slip in references to The Phantom of the Opera story without compromising her own. If you prefer Phantom with less of a love triangle, a lot less insanity, and a lot more steampunk, racial inequality, and revolution in a slaughterhouse setting that is even more dynamic than an opera house, then you should definitely check out OF METAL AND WISHES.
I can tell you one thing, this book is unlike anything I've read this year. And that in itself is amazing. To be original is a feat in itself since book topics tend to come in waves. On top of that, I really enjoyed the story. At first, I wasn't sure what to think of Wen. She came across as extremely protected which seemed strange in such an intense environment. As the story goes on, I came to realize that this wasn't suppose to be how Wen's life ended up. But, the death of her mother left her family in a situation she wasn't use to. I don't think Wen was purposely naive enough to not see it, her father was just that good at hiding it. Just as Wen is good at hiding that she knows her father has been taking loans from the slaughter-house. Loans with such high interest rates that he will forever indebted. All just to keep her out of the clutches of the slaughter-house. I found it extremely interesting the slaughter-house operates more like a contained environment and not just a place of employment. But, there's mutiny in the ranks and soon this carefully constructed environment will have all hell break loose. Our "ghost" is way more than just a story the workers tell to keep up spirits. This ghost has a vendetta and Wen has attracted his attention. An intense story once it gets going. It has some intense scenes including a malfunction on the slaughter floor. This book also seems to defy a category. It feels dystopian, historical fiction, and steampunk all rolled into one strange but awesome novel! I also really enjoyed the subtle romance. Looking forward to next book in the series!
The writing in this book is just phenomenal. The characters are all multi-layered with tangible personalities. The romance is slow-building and sweet.The plot is smooth and easy to understand. Everything about Of Metal and Wishes is amazing.
Of Metal and Wishes was not what I was expecting, not even close. This book was really dark, beautiful and scary. I’m surprised at how every single element of the book came together and worked nicely. I have to admit that the first few pages had me scratching my head because I had no idea where Fine was going with the book. But, every single thing that Fine incorporated in the book worked out in the end and the result was very enjoyable. One of my favorite part about the book were the Noor. I was touched by how much they loved each other. These men are described as very manly tall men and to see how loving they are towards each other amazed me. Malik the leader of the Noor was amazingly fleshed out, I loved every single thing about him. On the other hand our main character, Wen, was a little hard to love at first but she grew on my by the end of the book. I got a little frustrated with her but I had to understand the circumstances she was in and try to put myself in her shoes. Lastly, the ghost, I loved this character so much. He was scary but at the same time I couldn’t help not rooting for him. It was confusing. He did terrible things but he cared for Wen. I just wanted him to be happy. I really hope you guys read and enjoy Of Metal and Wishes as much as I did.
The writing in Sarah Fine's Of Metal and Wishes is gorgeous. The characters and world are so vivid, drawing you in from the first page and never letting go until the end. A must read!
This is a wonderfully written novel. I love the characters and the worldbuilding!
an absolutely GORGEOUS retelling of The Phantom of the Opera. This one drew me in from page one, and I read it in a day. Amazing!
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine Book One of the Of Metal and Wishes series Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books Publication Date: August 5, 2014 Rating: 4 stars Source: eARC from Edelweiss Summary (from Goodreads): There are whispers of a ghost in the slaughterhouse where sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic—a ghost who grants wishes to those who need them most. When one of the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor, humiliates Wen, she makes an impulsive wish of her own, and the Ghost grants it. Brutally. Guilt-ridden, Wen befriends the Noor, including their outspoken leader, a young man named Melik. At the same time, she is lured by the mystery of the Ghost and learns he has been watching her … for a very long time. As deadly accidents fuel tensions within the factory, Wen must confront her growing feelings for Melik, who is enraged at the sadistic factory bosses and the prejudice faced by his people at the hand of Wen’s, and her need to appease the Ghost, who is determined to protect her against any threat—real or imagined. She must decide whom she can trust, because as her heart is torn, the factory is exploding around her … and she might go down with it. What I Liked: I remember watching The Phantom of the Opera in elementary school - I think it had just come out, so I must have been in fourth or fifth grade. I don't remember the movie very much, to be honest, but I remember LOVING it. So when I saw this book, I thought two things: 1) Another Sarah Fine book, yay! and 2) a book based on The Phantom of the Opera, COOL! This book was stunning, people. I liked it a lot! Wen lives in a factory with her father. Years ago, they used to be of the upper class, better off, not in need of food or money. But after Wen's mother dies, Wen joins her father in the factory, and assists him in tending to injuries. Wen, her father, and the people of the factory are Itanyai. When a trainload of Noor come to the factory to work, things are set in motion. The Noor speak a different language, look different, and are treated like barbarians. They are poor and skinny and weak, but all they want to do is work. I haven't mentioned the Ghost yet - there is a Ghost that everyone prays to/leaves wishes. He is a dead worker of the factory, but is he really dead? He seems to have taken a liking to Wen, punishing a Noor boy after the boy pulled up her dress and humiliated her. Curious... I'm not sure I've read a book like this. It kind of reminded me of the idea of The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (I haven't read that one, but the IDEA of it), with the factory, the unsanitary conditions, the life in cities, etc. Not necessarily the meatpacking, though the slaughter house of the factory is pretty gruesome. That's just it though - the setting of this book is so well-constructed. It seems like this book is set in a time period similar to the early 1900s. Obviously this book is fantasy, with the two different races of people (Itanyai and Noor). I LOVE how well the author creates the setting and builds the world. The poorness of the Noor, how even the factory doctor and his daughter are overwhelmed with debt, the horrible, disgusting underboss, Wen's fear of being taken advantage of... everything that makes up the setting of this book is so vivid and well-described. I kept thinking as I was reading, dang, this lady sure knows how to construct a world, a setting, a story. The story is really well-crafted as well. It's not just about Wen and her fear of Mugo, the pedophile underboss. It's not just about the horrible way in which everyone treats the Noor, blames the Noor for things that they obviously can't control (like sickness, or impoverishment). It's not just about figuring out the secret of the Ghost. It's not just about Wen and Melik and their growing feelings... it's all of those things. There is so much going on in this book. The world of the factory is complicated. The lore of the Ghost is complicated. It seems like everything is complicated and not given without a fight. Wen is such a likable heroine. She is intelligent, and not just in terms of medicine. She knows better to think that the Noor are all savages. She knows better than to walk right up to them and expect to be friends with them, but she doesn't treat them like they are dirt beneath her feet. While she feels guilt for a wish to the Ghost that backfired and hurt the Noor boy, she always felt bad for the Noor. I love that she gave the Noor (and Melik) a chance, from the beginning. I LOVE Melik. We know that he is the silent, unofficial official leader of the Noor, even though he is young. He is well-built, strong, tall, and able to speak the Itanyai language (and therefore, translate into the Noor language). He is quiet and observant, clever and contemplative. He knows how and when to fight his battles, and when to step aside or back away. He and the Noor are never broken, their spirit always strong and defiant, despite the harsh conditions of the factory, the treatment of the underboss and guards, and the injustices handed to them left and right. The Ghost is an interesting part to the story. Not only does he prove to Wen that he exists, but he does it in a brutal and saddening way. I love the slow, progressive way in which Fine introduces the Ghost to the story, and then bit by bit, the Ghost himself. The Ghost is so strange, and all of his... companions. I LOVE Fine's take on the Ghost. She made him similar to the Phantom, but so very different. That being said, this book isn't a retelling (though I marked it as such). It's based on The Phantom of the Opera, but I wouldn't say it's a retelling. The role of the Ghost is different - he doesn't try to make Wen marry him. He DOES want her to stay with him. He worked hard to make a place for Wen in his life... but like the Phantom, he messed up badly. You'll have to read this book to figure out what the Ghost does. I love how Fine twists the story to her own measure. The romance is sweet and painful and bittersweet and beautiful. Wen and Melik work so hard for each other, though it doesn't seem like it. Wen buys medicine for the Noor, and shows them so must kindness, but she's always thinking of Melik. Melik guards her from the Noor (not they are going to attack her or anything - but he keeps her name in a good light among them), as well as from the guards and Mugo. The two of them are so brokenly perfect for each other, and they fight to find their way to each other. There is no love triangle in this book, though I was legitimately afraid for one. We know the Ghost cares greatly for Wen, but Wen's heart belongs to Melik. She cares about the Ghost very much though, and I really respect this. The ending is crushing, in so many ways - good and bad and wonderful. It's so fitting, and feels really *right*, despite having a touch of bitterness. If this book weren't part of a series, then I might have been a little saddened by the ending, because that couldn't be it, could it!? But there is another book to follow. The ending of this particular book is excellent, knowing that there is a sequel. And that, my friends, is how being a part of a series versus being a standalone novel can change your perception of a book's ending. Overall, I'm really pleased with this book. Going into the book, I didn't really know what to expect. I did not expect a novel set in a harsh factory, a poor world, a terrible society. I loved this book! I know others have had mixed feelings, saying that they couldn't get into the novel, or it didn't grab them, but this one worked for me. I love Fine's books! What I Did Not Like: Hmmm, I don't think I have much to say here. I know, I only gave this book four stars, but I have nothing to say about what I did not like. I'm really happy with this book, and so glad I had the chance to read it! But it's a four-star read from me. And there is nothing wrong with that! Would I Recommend It: Yes! I would recommend this book to fantasy lovers, historical fiction lovers (though this book is technically not historical fiction), and mystery lovers. This book has a solid mystery foundation to it, though I didn't really mention that in the previous sections of my review. Basically... I would recommend any of Sarah Fine's books (this one, Sanctum, Fractured, Scan). Rating: 4 stars. It's official (if it wasn't already) - I am hooked on Sarah Fine's books! This is my fourth novel of hers read - and I am four for four! Bring on the third Guards of the Shadowlands book, Burn, Marked, and the sequel to this book!