Review – Of Metal and Wishes
  • Posted:
  • November 28, 2013

Of MEtal and Wishes

Of Metal and Wishes is an upcoming Gothic Young Adult novel by Sarah Fine. The book is a retelling of The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux set it in a slaughterhouse. This novel is a stand alone.

Wen works alongside her father, Guiren, in the Gochan One, a slaughterhouse that supplies much of the surrounding area’s meat products. Wen assists Guiren, a doctor, as his nurse.  While doing this all of her needs are met by the factory, though Gochan One extracts a heavy debt from its occupants. Wen tries to forget her Mother and embrace this new and strange life even as she is becoming more obliged to the factory.

During this time a group of outsiders become employed at Gochan One; the Noor. The Noor are perceived as barbarians and imbeciles and Wen tries to keep away from them. But an accident draws her to Melik, the outspoken rust-haired man who makes Wen forget herself. Just as their friendship begins to blossom Wen gets drawn into a mystery of Gochan One; that of a factory Ghost and his connections to many of the inner workings of the slaughterhouse.

It took me two-thirds of this book to recall that this was a Phantom retelling. I must have known at one point and forgotten this crucial detail. As a result the realization that this book was Phantom hit me out of the blue, and when it did the enlightenment was amazing. I was already in love with this book by the reveal and knowing that it was Phantom made me giddy. From that point on it was up to Fine to put all of the elements into place… and she did that very well. This is a story that doesn’t get retold often, a story that I unabashedly love for many years now. This is one of those literary areas where authors need to tread very carefully upon while reworking this tale. Fine hit the notes, she did the deed, and she made me a believer. This is a flawless retelling.

There are other things that Fine adds to flesh out the existing story – the social conflict with the Noors, the fear and the corruption of bigotry, the oppressive tyrannical underboss, Mugo… All of these elements breathed new life into the story of the Phantom. The mythos behind the ghost was also beautifully told as well. Fine handled him with a deft hand that makes him sympathetic and believable. His relationship with Wen is tender and sweet when it needs to be and equally terrifying when it has to be. The homage that she pays to both Erik and Leroux is both striking and heartfelt.

I loved this book. It’s pretty perfect.

5 out of 5 stars.

– BP

* Of Metal and Wishes releases August 5, 2014 by Margaret K. McElderry books. My thanks to the fine folks at Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to read it very early.


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Skye @ Skye's Scribblings

2014-01-06 22:15:50 Reply

I hadn’t heard this was a Phantom retelling! Between that and your raving review, I’m definitely going to give this a try. Thanks!