A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat
Updated: Jul 7, 2021
All light in Chattana is created by one man — the Governor, who appeared after the Great Fire to bring peace and order to the city. For Pong, who was born in Namwon Prison, the magical lights represent freedom, and he dreams of the day he will be able to walk among them. But when Pong escapes from prison, he realizes that the world outside is no fairer than the one behind bars. The wealthy dine and dance under bright orb light, while the poor toil away in darkness. Worst of all, Pong’s prison tattoo marks him as a fugitive who can never be truly free.
Nok, the prison warden’s perfect daughter, is bent on tracking Pong down and restoring her family’s good name. But as Nok hunts Pong through the alleys and canals of Chattana, she uncovers secrets that make her question the truths she has always held dear.
Some books make you love them, and some books make you want every single person near and far to love them. A Wish in the Dark is the latter.
This made such big news in 2020, with words like ‘incandescent’ thrown around, that I wasn’t quite sure how to prepare myself for the greatness within its pages. I wish I could time travel to meet Past Sope and explain that not only would this book delight her, it would also nudge one of her fiercely guarded top ten books out of its spot.
This book is that good.
A Wish in The Dark is set in a Thai-inspired fantasy world and inspired by Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. It deals with issues of social class and inequality, leadership through fear-mongering, justice and who gets to decide it. All in all, it is a wonderful starter to get your young reader thinking about the world we live in.
I also love how this story shows the power of ordinary people coming together to effect great change.
Everything about this book is stellar. The plot is masterful, the pace never falters, and the setting is richly imagined - from inside Namwon Prison to the rest of Chattana, I could see the lights, smell the water, and best of all, I could see Pong, Nok, Somkit, Father Cham and the rest of the cast of characters.