Girl takes on not-so-nice fairies in ‘One Wish’ to save kidnapped friend [Book Review]

John Millen |

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By Michelle Harrison

Published by Simon & Schuster

ISBN 978 1 4711 2165 4

Perhaps it’s about time we rethought our opinions about fairies. Perhaps fairies are not the cute, silvery sprites that fly around, sometimes appearing to human eyes, and occasionally landing on the top of our Christmas trees during the jolly festive season. Certainly the fairies in Michelle Harrison’s One Wish would not be seen dead playing the part of a Christmas tree decoration.

Harrison’s fairies are nasty little creatures that enjoy tormenting any human unfortunate enough to be aware of their presence. Twelve-year-old Tanya Fairchild nows only too well that real fairies are nothing like the fictional imps and pixies uninformed authors portray in books. She is one of the small band of humans who can see fairies, and she has been the victim of their tricks for most of her young life. But no one has ever believed her when she has asked for help.

Real fairies don’t like the fact that some humans can see them, and if Tanya tries to discuss their existence with another human, they cast spells and make the poor girl suffer. So keeping silent and just putting up with things is the best way for her to get on with her life.

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And that is the situation when we meet Tanya at the beginning of One Wish. She has always hoped that one day she would meet someone else who could see also the creatures, but she’s not holding her breath.

But things suddenly change when Tanya goes on holiday to the small town of Spinney Wicket with her recently divorced mother. She meets Ratty, a young boy who at first wants nothing to do with the clingy girl who tries to befriend him.

Henry Hanratty is interesting and a bit mysterious, and Tanya is lonely, so she works hard to gain his attention. Her efforts pay off – but at a price.

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Tanya learns that Ratty has deeper connections with the fairy world than she has, and he even has a fairy friend called Turpin. She is soon caught up in Ratty’s story without realising the danger this puts her in.

Ratty has real enemies in the fairy realms, and he has knowledge that could be a threat to the human world. When Ratty is kidnapped, Tanya knows that she is the only one who can save him. She knows who has kidnapped him – and she knows she has to harness her fears and actually enter the dangerous fairy world instead of existing passively on the fringes as she has done up until now.

One Wish is a quirky, fairly dark book that will entertain young readers with its plot twists, fully-realised magical characters, and indomitable human protagonists. It’s a story that gives a completely new meaning to the term “fairy tale”.

John Millen can be contacted on [email protected]