Book Review: A Comb of Wishes by Lisa Stringfellow
Set against the backdrop of Caribbean folklore, Lisa Stringfellow’s spellbinding middle grade debut tells of a grieving girl and a vengeful mermaid and will enchant readers who loved Kacen Callender’s Hurricane Child or Christian McKay Heidicker’s Scary Stories for Young Foxes.
Ever since her mother’s death, Kela feels every bit as broken as the shards of glass, known as “mermaid’s tears,” that sparkle on the Caribbean beaches of St. Rita. So when Kela and her friend Lissy stumble across an ancient-looking comb in a coral cave, with all she’s already lost, Kela can’t help but bring home her very own found treasure.
Far away, deep in the cold ocean, the mermaid Ophidia can feel that her comb has been taken. And despite her hatred of all humans, her magic requires that she make a bargain: the comb in exchange for a wish.
But what Kela wants most is for her mother to be alive. And a wish that big will exact an even bigger price…
Don’t miss the novel that Newbery-winning author Kelly Barnhill calls “one of the most promising works of fiction in a long time”!
Well, this book was fantastic. I fully admit to sometimes just sort of skimming books, especially if I’m reading at work. If I want to read something but am drowning in books to try to get to, I will cruise down the middle of a page, probably catching 60% of the words but enough to get the plot and impressions. But this one? I started it at work and read every word, anxious for lunch and my breaks so I could finish it up. This is so well plotted, with constant tension, and so imminently readable—the storytelling tradition really came through because it just flows. Despite me reading it, it very much felt like I was sitting down to have someone tell me a story. And I came to love the voice of the hundreds of years old mermaid, Ophida, as much as I loved Kela’s voice.
Ophida makes it clear to Kela that magic has a price, but that doesn’t stop Kela from making a wish that even the most casual reader will understand is probably a bad idea that will have a price that is terrible. But that path between a wish and its consequences isn’t straightforward, nor is it even fully terrible. Like everything and everyone in this wonderful book, it’s complicated.
This emotional and suspenseful look at grief, love, choices, and consequences is not to be missed. Please give me a whole BUNCH more books by Stringfellow!
The story is put on you!
Review copy (ARC) courtesy of the publisher
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/08/2022
Age Range: 8 – 12 Years
Filed under: Uncategorized
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
SLJ Blog Network
Watch The Yarn LIVE with Kate DiCamillo at ALA!
Review of the Day: Papá’s Magical Water-Jug Clock by Jesús Trejo, ill. Eliza Kinkz
Squire & Knight | Review
Why Sad Books are Vital in Kidlit, a guest post by Cassandra Newbould
The Classroom Bookshelf is Moving