The Art of Wishing is a strange and unique novel about a girl who falls for a cute genie that leads her to make a life altering choice.
Eighteen year old Margo McKenna hopes to win the lead in her school's production of the musical Sweeney Todd. A gifted singer and songwriter as well as theatrical performer, Margo gives it her all during auditions only to find that inexplicably, Vicki Willoughby has been given the lead. How Vicki got the lead part is a major mystery to Margo but she decides to accept her school drama teacher, Miss Delisio's decision and try to learn her part well.
Vicki proves to be a terrible choice, unable to act, delivering her lines in a monotone - and strangely no one but Margo, her friend Naomi and the pianist, George, seemed to recognize this. During a bathroom break one day, Margo finds a silver ring which Viki has left behind. When she picks up the ring, almost instantly Oliver Parish shows up outside the bathroom. In the discussion that follows, Oliver explains to Margo that the ring belongs to Viki but is tied to him and that it is a magic ring that has called him there. He asks Margo to give him the ring, but she tells him that she will return it to Viki instead. When Miss Delisio enters the washroom looking for Margo, Oliver vanishes and Margo decides she needs to find out what is going on.
Just as Oliver tells her, she uses the ring to "call" him. Oliver tells Margo that the ring holds a special kind of magic - it is a spirit vessel and that it binds him to whoever holds the ring. When he tells her that she can ask him for three things, Margo realizes that Oliver is a genie or djinni. Oliver also tells Margo that after he grants her three wishes, he must leave because someone is looking for him. That someone is his former master, who made two wishes but not a third. But until Margo makes those three wishes, Oliver cannot leave.
As it turns out, Margo finds herself in a dire situation when the person looking for Oliver shows up. That person is another genie named Xavier and he's bent on destroying Oliver, but to do so he needs the ring so he can make his final wish. Xavier believes that the genies magic has been lost and that they must leave this world forever. Can Margo find a way to save the boy she has fallen for, or will Oliver be lost forever?
Set in Oakvale, a little town in the middle of northern New Jersey, The Art of Wishing give's Margo's account of one week in her life. For the most part this novel was interesting because Ribar gradually reveals the mystery about Oliver and Xavier and fills her readers in on the nature of genies or as they are also known, djinni which is the arabic derivation. As a genie, Oliver is able to travel very fast - appearing and disappearing. He can heal himself and can assume the shapes of other humans. And he can live for thousands of years.
Readers will love the forbidden romance between Oliver and Margo. What could be more unique than a romance between a genie and a girl! However, I found that Margo and Oliver's relationship was bizarre (as one would expect) because he becomes whomever the master of the ring wants him to become which has led to Oliver having numerous identities throughout his time as a genie. He has also had to switch genders which makes him even more strange. This leaves Margo wondering who the real "Oliver" is and she seeks to find this out.
Oliver is the main attraction of The Art of Wishing. His life is defined entirely by the magic he possesses and he loves it that way. It's a life that Margo has trouble understanding but soon becomes attracted to.
The novel drags a little in the middle when the pace picks up with the appearance of Xavier. For the most part, the hanging ending was predictable and there are plenty of lose threads which hopefully will be picked up in the next book.
This the first in The Art of Wishing series, with the second book, The Fourth Wish to be published in the summer 2014. Robar is a literary agent with Sanford J. Greenburger.
The Art of Wishing by Lindsay Ribar
New York: Penguin Group 2013