Jennifer St. Clair’s Nine Lives and Three Wishes

cover art for Nine Lives And Three WishesMisty is deeply devoted to his family, even though he’s not related to them by blood. He loves Carla, and it troubles him that she worries about the bills all the time. He loves Maddie, Carla’s small daughter, even though she almost strangles him when she hugs him, and it was she who started calling him by his unfortunate (for a boy) name. So when a bottle shows up in a puddle one day, and the perhaps-genie inside it offers Misty three wishes, his first wish is that Carla won’t have to worry about money anymore. Unfortunately, the bottle comes from Faerie, and They have rules about wishes. In return for granting Misty’s wish, They take Maddie.

Misty can’t let this happen. He just can’t. So he decides to go into Faerie and get Maddie back. After all, They also have rules about rescue. Everyone gets one chance to win his or her loved one back. There’s just one catch. Tib — the not-quite-a-genie from the bottle — tells Misty he won’t be able to pass the border into Faerie. Cats aren’t allowed in Faerie, because they do strange things to its magic.

Yes, that’s right. Maybe you already saw it coming. Misty is a cat.

But like all cats, he’s undaunted. He’s got a wish left, and he wishes to be turned into a human, so he can go after Maddie. And for good measure, he’s going to take Tib along with him to help, like it or not.

Jennifer St. Clair writes a fast-moving story. She doesn’t spend time on pages of lush description, nor does she work too hard to make her characters deep and complex. The story’s the point here, and she’s got a good one. Not that the landscape feels flat or the characters like cardboard. No indeed. Misty is believable, both as a cat and a boy. He gets scraped up, gets hungry, and acts impetuously. Faerie as imagined by St. Clair is quirky and interesting. Side characters show up briefly, and their appearances and dwellings are intriguing enough that we wish we could go back and take another look. But not right now.

Right now, the plot pulls us along. We turn pages quickly, wanting to find out what’s going to happen next to Misty and Tib. Things keep surprising us. But not in an “Oh, no! She killed my favorite character!” kind of way. Instead, we find ourselves thinking, “Wow, I did not see that coming!”

This story is fun. It’s easy to follow, just suspenseful enough, and has a satisfying ending. It’s written for young adults, but I’m going to harp on my usual string and say, “Who’s a young adult?” I can see people as young as nine and as old as … well, however old … liking it, so long as they’re ready for a good time and a lively adventure.

(Twilight Times Books, 2003)

Grey Walker

Grey Walker is a Narrative American (with thanks to Ursula K. Le Guin for coining that term). Although she makes money as a librarian, she makes her life as a reader and writer of stories and reviews of stories. She has a growing interest in the interstitial arts. The album she listens to most often is Morning Walk by Metamora. The book she re-reads most often (and she never owns a book unless she intends to read it more than once) is The Smith of Wootton Major by J.R.R. Tolkien.

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