Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Independent book review: You Wish

You Wish, by Terry Tyler

Published 2011

I admit it, I am probably not the target audience that Terry Tyler had in mind when she wrote You Wish. I’m the wrong sex. But I still liked it.

You Wish could be categorized as “urban paranormal fantasy.” Set in the southern part of the UK and spanning a period from the 80s to 2010, You Wish is about Ruth, a woman who scrapes out a living as a psychic advisor at county fairs and other events, and some of the people she comes into contact with.As a girl, Ruth finds a magical wishing stone: supposedly, if you touch it and make a wish, the wishes come true. Ruth is deeply conflicted: on one level, she laughs off such a possibility; on another, she’s afraid of the power of an object to grant wishes and keeps the stone hidden most of her life.

However, one day her young daughter sets up a little display at her parents’ psychic display at a local fair; for a charitable donation, anyone can make a wish on the stone. Three people wish on the stone. One, Petra, wishes she could fall in love like all her friends do; Sarah wishes she could lose weight to achieve her lifelong goal of wearing Size Zero clothes; and a childless couple wishes they could conceive a baby.
The story traces how events conspire to realize these wishes—and the horrifying, yet easily foreseeable effects on the characters’ lives.

Independent author
Terry Tyler

What I liked

Tyler skillfully weaves the separate stories of the characters together, even bringing some of them back together near the end. She also brings tells Ruth’s back-story well, showing how the young Ruth acquired the wishing stone and the emotional roller-coaster a school-age girl goes through. I have to admit, I’ve seldom had much patience for the drama of the average teenage girl in fiction, but Tyler really knows how to make her reader see through Ruth’s eyes. In a few chapters, Tyler also shows very believably exactly what Ruth is afraid of the stone’s power.

Another thing I really liked is the realism of the story. All the characters were three-dimensional; no one was just an evocation of Tyler’s favourite TV show characters. And the marginal lives of the modern psychics, pathetically selling paintings and psychic readings at fairs and conventions to supplement their social assistance cheques, skimping to raise two children while finding money for dope, shows me that Tyler is not only a skilled observer and reporter of life around her. She doesn’t buy the romantic line that psychics and marginal artists sell. She also shares (I think) my own understanding of “magic.”


There were very few things about this book to criticize. Sure, there were occasional typos and awkward sentences, but I defy you to find me any book without a few. (Stieg Larsson fans, give up now.)

There were some long information dumps, about the back-stories of Petra (the girl who wished to fall in love) and, to a lesser extent, Sarah. Tyler wrote several passages about Petra’s pursuit of her true love as if she were summing it up for a book report. Many critics have told me to “show, not tell” in my own writing, and for the most part, I think they’re right.


Overall, however, this is an excellent story, skillfully told. Congratulations to Terry Tyler for proving, yet again, the independent authors are producing excellent books.