A WISH IN THE DARK, by Christina Soontornvat, Candlewick Press

A boy on the run. A girl determined to find him.

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. Set in a Thai-inspired fantasy world, and inspired by Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables.

Out March 2020

384 Pages


I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

This is a middle-grade, for ages 8-12, book.

So this was said to be a Thai Les Miserable… and I was hooked. This book is about honor, truth, humility, poverty, secrets, friendship and family.

I found myself lost in the pages of this book, so absorbed in the unfolding story that I lost a sense of time. It is a beautiful story, well-written and enthralling. The struggle of the character as he discovers and navigates through a fractured world, and a girl trying to redeem her family honor.

This is a fantasy book with a fantastic setting, magical elements and fantastic characters that grow right before your eyes. There’s elements of a class system that is unfair, a bit of magic to add whimsy and of course the Thailand theme keeping it real.

The way the characters grew from cover to cover, the plotting and sub-plot twists, the flow of the story, evenly paced, clear and distinct, the continuous build of tension, the climax/reveal and then all the issues tied up at the end.

Beautifully written, engaging and enticing. I highly recommend this book to school libraries/teachers.

A great example of doing what is right, not what is expected.

I gave it:

Five star rating – shiny golden stars

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