Book Review: Amulet of Wishes, by Rita A. Rubin
by Bren B. | 02/25/2022
Whether or not you’re a fan of the fantasy genre, I think we can all agree that there are just some fantasy books that are hard to get into because the world setting is so complicated and it takes hundreds of pages to set up. But then there are wonderful gems, like Amulet of Wishes, by Rita A. Rubin that plunk the reader down and set right into the story, letting the world build and unravel naturally along with the plot.
The Guardians are the protectors of Aloseria. They are the keepers of the peace and they have a unique ability-they can turn into dragons.
Derek Draco is one of them. Haunted by the memories of his past, Derek comes across a piece of a mythical amulet, said to hold the power to grant wishes once all three pieces are brought together. Seeing an opportunity to right the wrongs of his past, Derek sets out on a journey to find the rest of the amulet, along with his friends, Jared and Arabelle. However, Derek is unaware of the true power of the amulet and using it to fulfil his seemingly innocent wish could have disastrous consequences.
Before I really start in on this review, I have to say that I cannot wait for the next book in the series. The epilogue of this book has me so on edge and worried that I need to know what happens next. I NEED to know, Rita. Like. Medically need to know. I am worried and I have feelings and I have questions! I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS!
Anyway. I’m here to review, not ramble. Right? Right.
Amulet of Wishes predominately follows the story of Derek Draco as he embarks on a quest to find an amulet of legend, accompanied by two of his friends, Jared and Arabelle. Although Derek has most of the perspective of the book, the book follows quite a few perspectives, breaking up tension or building tension in interesting ways by breaking away from certain plot threads to follow a different character for a chapter or two. And the perspectives of the book aren’t limited to the teenagers, which helps balance out some of the more dramatic teenage outbursts with level headed adult curiosity or intrigue.
The use of the varying perspectives also helps the world building feel organic and nothing feels like an info dump on the reader. The reader slowly learns about the world and the history as they travel with the party throughout Aloseria. And along with revealing the world as the plot develops, backstories are also revealed slowly and never all at once. The dynamics between characters is preestablished as the book starts but as more and more is revealed about everyone’s varied past, the dynamics begin to make more sense and certain relationships become stronger as past traumas come to light and are fully understood.
I will say that this book could use some mild content warnings, though. The book has several characters with dead parents that are referred to often, there is mention of a loved one taking their own life, and allusion to sexual assault but it is never explicitly stated or described. None of these things impacted the quality of the story but they are some heavy themes that very well might trigger an unsuspecting reader.
I have to say that I really enjoyed the passive queer representation in this book. This book is by no means a romance, nor does any of the plot hinge on a romantic subplot. At most, there is mention of an adult character’s many relations, and the teenagers’ passing feelings toward one another, but nothing is ever acted on. Just glances and some blushes. But there is a bisexual adult main character who I adore, an asexual mage, a pair of elven wives, and a gay teenager. And I love that these queer identities just exist in the world. They aren’t commented on. Their orientation isn’t important to the plot. They just are. They are their queer selves existing in the world and I honestly love to see it.
I have two minor criticisms for the book. The first being that there are a few passages where the grammar or punctuation needed another line edit. There were a few spots where verb tenses weren’t quite right or there were too many commas or things weren’t capitalized appropriately and there were a handful of scenes where phrases felt repeated only a few paragraphs apart.
My second criticism is that even though I enjoyed the slowly unraveling mystery of backstories, there was one character, Aurelia, who I still have a major question about. Aurelia is a character who knew Derek’s mother but at no point in the narrative does it definitively say how she knew Derek’s mother. Were they friends? Sisters? Something else? I assume they were related somehow based on some context clues towards the second half of the book but I don’t know for certain. It is quite possible that I overlooked a sentence describing their relationship, but looking back through I can’t find one. And Aurelia was probably the most interesting to me and the main reason I need the next book in the series like NOW. But there is backstory that is tied to Aurelia doing something in the name of Derek’s mother and I kept going back to “how do they know each other, though?” And knowing what their relationship was would help me as a reader understand Aurelia’s motives, especially with how she directly interacts with Derek.
All in all, I enjoyed Amulet of Wishes. There were interesting fight scenes, beautiful moments as character relationships became stronger and as characters started to redefine what family means to them, and it is genuinely an interesting fantasy world. And even though it took me a long time to like Derek as a main character, I finally came around to liking him as his character arc came to a close. Watching him grow and change and realize how his actions affect others was some solid character growth and development and by the end of the book, I wanted to be someone giving him a hug along with all the other characters.
As luck would have it though, Rubin has published a short story that is a prequel to Amulet of Wishes called Arabelle’s Story. So while I’m anxiously waiting to see what happens after the cliffhanger that Amulet of Wishes’s epilogue left off on, I’m definitely going to go check out Arabelle’s Story! You should too.
4 out of 5 Rainbows
Recommended Reader: Anyone looking for an easy entry YA Fantasy with queer representation where romance is not the focus of any of the plots or readers who are looking for a fantasy story that has traditional elements with a unique and original world. If you’re a fan of The Dragon Prince TV show, you might very well fall in love with this book, too.
Book Provided by Author: The Queerblr was provided a copy of Amulet of Wishes for free by the author; this has in no way affected the review and rating of the book that was written by The Queerblr.
Tune in on March 11th for The Queerblr’s review of Webtoon’s Not So Shoujo Love Story, by Curryuku!