Three Little Wishes

If fantastical stories have taught us anything, it’s that magical wishes are nothing but trouble. The horror short story “The Monkey’s Paw” by W. W. Jacobs showed us that wishes can be twisted into something terrible. The Disney animated Aladdin movie, along with Robin Williams’s depiction of the famous Genie, showed viewers that what we often wish for isn’t what we really wanted or even needed. There are so many stories about wishes going wrong, that any mystical being or object that grants wishes should come with a liability waiver. Humans, however, having read many of these stories, will often try to verbally trick the wish-granting entity to give them exactly what they want, life lessons not included. This is the humorous premise behind the humorous modern fantasy graphic novel Three Little Wishes, written by Paul Cornell and illustrated by Steven Yeowell.

Kelly Castleton, a contract lawyer who’s made a career out of obsessing over the fine print, receives a strange bottle that happens to contain the Fairy King Oberon. For freeing him, Oberon offers Kelly the deal of a lifetime: three magical wishes. However, Oberon is more than willing to twist Kelly’s wishes in order to create chaos. Kelly could wish for many things, from helping an ex-boyfriend to benefiting all of society, but she’ll have to use all her legal smarts to make the most of her wishes without turning the world upside down.

Cornell’s premise has something different than the typical wish-granting trope. Unlike most literary characters who receive wishes, Kelly Castleton takes time to methodically plan what she actually wishes for. Her wishes aren’t even for selfish reasons. However, they do have many unforeseen consequences, such as hilariously putting a freelance assassin out of work, who becomes a comic relief character in his own right. Mostly, this book is about the overall character arc of Kelly Castleton who learns that there is sometimes joy in spontaneity. King Oberon also has many opportunities to grow, starting out as the book’s antagonist but ends up learning something about the humans he tried to deceive for centuries.

Yeowell’s artwork serves this book well because it is so understated. There is wish granting, but there is nothing weird like people turning to ice cream or kaiju-sized cereal mascots rampaging through downtown. With this tale being more of a character-driven story, Yeowell only has to render the faces and emotions of all the lead characters, and he does that well. Even King Oberon, the king of fairies, is portrayed as a pot-bellied bearded man with a penchant for Hawaiian shirts.

The book offers something that many graphic novel collections might find lacking: a book that, though full of fantastical elements, is more of a modern Shakespearean comedy. Fantasy fans might expect more ostentatious illustrations and subject matter, but a library that likes their fantasy more humorous and less epic should add this to their collection. This book is also a great example of how graphic novels are more than just action scenes exploding off the page. They can do a great job of detailing, in pictures, the quieter human moments.

Three Little Wishes
By Paul Cornell
Art by  Steven Yeowell
Legendary Comics, 2022
ISBN: 9781681161082

NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+), Older Teen (16-18)

The Heart Hunter

What would you do if you were forced to live forever? In The Heart Hunter, we are introduced to the island of Envecor, where the inhabitants are cursed with immortality. Long ago, the curse began due to a broken heart and now all the residents stop aging at the age of eighteen. Cursed to live forever, they keep their hearts outside their bodies, safe in jars. The only way to break the curse is to find a soulmate and bond.  Once the bond is initiated, the curse ends and they become mortal. Bounty hunters, called heart hunters, are hired to kill soulmates. They have the special ability to track soulmates and have weapons to kill them. Once a person’s soulmate is killed that person is guaranteed immortality.

Marius, the king of Encevor, desires to find his soulmate and destroy their heart, killing them in the process and making the king immortal. He hires a heart hunter named Psyche to complete this task. Psyche, who has a damaged heart due to having a personal loss, soon finds the king’s soulmate. Named Isaac, he has a heart of gold and can’t be killed. The golden heart enables him to mend broken ones. The only way Psyche can release the soulmate bond is to travel to the center of the island and submerge Isaac’s heart in water, making him mortal. Together, they begin a dangerous journey on a path towards redemption.

Along the journey, Psyche and Isaac stumble into a young heart hunter named Jez who is also in search of the king’s soulmate. Jez explains that he stole the king’s heart and wants to destroy the soulmate bond between the king and Isaac, thinking this will end the curse. However, destroying the king’s heart will also kill Isaac. The king soon discovers the lost heart and is enraged. He leaves on a search to find his heart and discovers more about himself in the process.

The artwork is lush and dramatic. The author does a good job establishing the plot and characters. The characters are well drawn and all have developed backstories. The reader cares about the protagonists’ struggles. The characters are all flawed, making them realistic. Illustrator V. Gagnon does a good job of creating a high stakes atmosphere, using dark red and orange tones to elevate the drama and seriousness of the situation. The is a sense of timelessness. There is no link to a specific time in history or to a specific technology. Characters are diverse, portraying a variety of skin tones and hair textures. This is also a strong LGBTQ+ title. Characters can be soulmates with the same gender and we see characters engaged in same sex relationships. This is a heart-pumping graphic novel will keep teens entertained until the last page. There is some mild gore and references to romantic relationships. This novel is not appropriate for young teens, but is an interesting read for older teens looking for a fast-paced adventure. Although a dark tale, teens and adults that have an appetite for dramatic stories will enjoy this graphic novel.

The Heart Hunter
By Mickey George
Art by V. Gagnon
Legendary Comics, 2021
ISBN: 9781681160740
Publisher Age Rating: 13 years and up

NFNT Age Recommendation: Teen (13-16)