Read another of Frances Hardinge's books this weekend. Well Witched was every bit as good, maybe better, than The Lost Conspiracy.
The story starts when three stranded children swipe some coins from a wishing well to pay bus fare home, unknowingly taking on the responsibility of granting the wishes behind the coins.
Hardinge did an amazing job of bringing complex characters to life, of recognizing the kernel inside of every wish (I want a Harley Davidson/I want to be the kind of person that rides a Harley Davidson) and of solving difficult conflicts through believable, if startling twists. No easy answers, no trite characters, no neat endings, and powerful in a way I haven't seen in many young adult novels.
Some of the character interactions nearly stunned me to tears–not because Hardinge was trying to wax poetic or sentimental, but because I know these people–we all do, and it is stunning to find that an author knows the people you know, and can pin them onto the paper so precisely.
Near the end, Hardinge captures a complicated mother/child relationship in a few deft sentences. The boy has always bowed to his mother's strong will in the past, but while his adventures have helped him find his voice, he has also developed a respect for why his mother is the way she is.
And so he asks her what she would wish for, if she had one wish:
"'What? I've never done anything of the sort, how should I know …?'
No, you wouldn't, would you? Too busy rampaging through the world, granting your own wishes …
Ryan regarded his mother with exasperated pride as she narrowed her eyes at the odds and ran a red light."
Yeah, you know her too, don't you?
Good book, definitely a keeper.