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Of Metal and Wishes

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There are whispers of a ghost in the slaughterhouse where sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic—a ghost who grants wishes to those who need them most. When one of the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor, humiliates Wen, she makes an impulsive wish of her own, and the Ghost grants it. Brutally.

Guilt-ridden, Wen befriends the Noor, including their outspoken leader, a young man named Melik. At the same time, she is lured by the mystery of the Ghost and learns he has been watching her... for a very long time.

As deadly accidents fuel tensions within the factory, Wen must confront her growing feelings for Melik, who is enraged at the sadistic factory bosses and the prejudice faced by his people at the hand of Wen’s, and her need to appease the Ghost, who is determined to protect her against any threat—real or imagined. She must decide whom she can trust, because as her heart is torn, the factory is exploding around her... and she might go down with it.

321 pages, Hardcover

First published August 5, 2014

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About the author

Sarah Fine

41 books1,986 followers
When I'm not writing, I'm psychologizing (really, I even get a paycheck for it). Sometimes I do both at the same time. The results are unpredictable.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 575 reviews
November 4, 2014
I bite my lip. My skin is hot with shame and I can’t quite catch my breath. “Did they do that to all of you?”

She gives me a pitying look. “Only you.”

I look at them, and I look down at myself, and I know why. All of the other women are wearing simple brown dresses with straight skirts and plain sleeves. I look like a peacock in this embroidered dress of mine.
This is a stunningly beautiful, complex book, but for two words: rape culture. Fucking rape culture, man.

This is one of the most reluctant 4-stars that I've ever given in my life. This was a fantastic book. By the time I finished, I was wavering between giving it 4 stars or 2 stars.

Why the discrepancy? That's a hell of a difference. Again, rape culture and occasional slut shaming. I loved this book, but fuck if it wasn't incredibly fucking frustrating to read. I gritted my teeth, torn between love and hate. In the end, I went with my gut instincts. I still loved most of this book, despite raging hard at it. Go figure.

Lest I be a hypocrite, let me first tell you why I hated this book. There is such an overwhelming sense of "Pretty girl! Me want to rape. Me want to molest. Me want to touch. Me Neanderthal. *chest thump*" Listen, I get it. I know that rape and molestation and the constant threat of abuse is a very, very real thing. With that said, it made me upset that this was such an overwhelming theme throughout the book, and that it only happened to the beautiful, nubile young character.

She is under constant threats of rape. From random men.
Ebian laughs, and his hand falls away from my neck. For a moment I believe I am free, but then I hear the tinkle of metal and realize he’s fumbling with his belt.
To her own boss.
His mushroomy fingers are on my neck, and then—oh, I want to die—they are on the front of me, stroking down, only a few inches above the neckline of my dress. This is no way to touch a girl. This is private. This is sacred and intimate. I lean back to escape, but I only succeed in trapping myself against his weaselly, damp body.
Her boss, who, throughout the book, constantly, ceaselessly makes advances towards her.
Mugo’s hand slips lower, and his fingers skim the neckline on the front of my dress. I can’t take it anymore. I try to squirm away, but Mugo’s other hand clamps down painfully on my shoulder, holding me in place.
Outside of that, she is believed to be constantly under the threat of rape by her own fellow women.
“You’re lucky. I can’t imagine what they would have done to you if they had the strength. Weren’t you terrified?”
And made to be the victim at every turn.
As I push up to my hands and knees, I feel air on the back of my legs.
The impish boy has lifted my skirt.
The main character excuses her own abuser.
“You mourn for the boy who lifted your skirt in the cafeteria? Who exposed your skin for all to see?”
Something inside me shrivels. I hope I’m imagining the edge in his voice. “Yes, I do. He didn’t mean it.”
And every woman in the book seems to blame Wen for her own sexuality, telling her that it is her responsibility to prevent her own sexual abuse.
“You watch yourself, Wen. Mind your manners and don’t wear fancy little girl clothes like you do. You’re asking for trouble.”
The main character allows herself to be fondled, to be debased, in the hope that she can sacrifice herself to save someone she loves---that's not how love works.
Tears of shame sting my eyes. If this were only about me, I would slap him in the face and storm away, but it’s not. So I sit here and allow this disgusting man to fondle me, hating him, hating myself.
Little girl. Little girl. Little girl.
“You’re such a little girl, Wen, aren’t you? Just a little girl.” His lips graze my hair, and I shudder.
There was a tremendous amount of emphasis on Wen as a "little girl," so young, so helpless, so beautiful. Existing solely to be molested and used by others.


I hated that. It was such a bloody fucking shame that this rape culture enraged me so much because it was such a good book otherwise. The race relations between the two races in the book, the Asian-like Itanyai and the Middle-Eastern Noors. There was a beautiful (yes, I said beautiful) and well-written love triangle between a Phantom-of-the-Opera-like ghost, Bo, and the forbidden-love Noor, Melik. The main character, Wen's relationship with her father is heartbreaking and real. The setting is fantastically creepy and bloody, deeply reminiscent of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle with a good dash of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

The main character, while flawed and rather stupid, was still relatable.

It was a good book.

What a shame. What a bloody fucking shame.
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,521 reviews33.8k followers
August 5, 2014
4.5 stars This gorgeous, poignant retelling of The Phantom of the Opera has shudder-inducing moments, wistful romance, and protagonists who care deeply about things other than themselves. AND diverse characters and class division and the most beautiful cover I've seen yet this year.

Recommended for fans of Cruel Beauty, The Winner's Curse, and other such dreamy but serious stories featuring forbidden love and atypical YA heroines.

Review to come.
Profile Image for starryeyedjen.
1,640 reviews1,231 followers
July 9, 2014
An ARC of this novel was received from publisher/author in exchange for an honest review.

This review can also be found at The Starry-Eyed Revue.

Full review follows Review in a GIFfy below.

Review in a GIFfy -- This can also be found at The Starry-Eyed Revue.

I wasn't expecting to get the approval for Of Metal and Wishes, so when I received a copy for review from Simon & Schuster, there was a little flailing involved:

In the first five percent of the book, when I realized Wen was going to be feisty:

The writing was, well, it was like this:

And I wanted it to keep coming.

When Wen first lands eyes on the boy with the rust-colored hair and jade-colored eyes:

The closer Wen and Melik got:

Every time Melik uttered, "Wen always has medicine."

As I realized just how strained and tenuous the relationship between Wen and her father was and why:

Upon discovering the Ghost and his lair and stumbling upon things like this:

I kind of did this:

And though the Ghost seemed mostly harmless:

And the more Underboss Mugo intervenes in Wen's affairs, the more I felt like this:

On behalf of Wen:

As the social injustices and cultural differences became so much clearer and much more divisive:

The more I read of this beautiful story, the more I became entranced:

I simply couldn't stop reading, and when it was over:

This couldn't possibly be it. I needed more. More of these characters, more of this world, more beautiful words from the unbelievably talented Sarah Fine.

And then I got an email from the author.

In other words, stay tuned for a big announcement!!!


Full review:

"I wish I could talk to him about what I've done, but I don't want him to know. I am alone in this, as I am alone in so much else. It is a crushing feeling with no corners and no edges. Endless and uncontainable. The Ghost seems to understand this feeling."

If you've seen my Review in a GIFfy feature, you know that the first book I ever reviewed in this fashion was Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine. (That review can be found here.) And with good reason, since so much of the story warrants such strong reactionary GIFs. But there's also a beautiful subtlety to Fine's storytelling method, full of vivid imagery but also those small things that niggle at your subconscious until you can no longer ignore them.

This book felt like so many things in one. First and foremost, it's a love story...and a doomed one at that. The setting and characters lend themselves to an Asian culture set somewhere in the somewhat recent past, but this isn't really a historical fiction novel. There are mechanical elements that are reminiscent of a steampunk novel, but that's not the focus of this story, either. One thing I do know, though, is that Of Metal and Wishes is a retelling of a timeless masterpiece, and it is beautifully told.

I loved how this story stayed with me, how even though I didn't know it was supposed to be a Phantom of the Opera retelling until I was already knee-deep in it, the hints of that familiar story were already ruminating in my brain, pushing me to read further, figure out who the Ghost was and what he wanted with Wen. And even though I did have my theories pan out, it made the story no less captivating to know what Wen was up against. In fact, knowing only urged me to plunge deeper into the story to discover the hows and whys of it all. And it all boils down to a little thing called social injustice.

A little background: Wen's family was of a nobler class before they fell on hard times. Wen's father is now the on-staff doctor at the local slaughterhouse. They live on-site in the medical quarters, and Wen's now of the age that she must consider her own occupational options. Basically, she's a sad, lonely young woman with little hope for a happier existence, and now that she's made an impulsive request of the Ghost, she's encompassed in guilt. Melik is a Noor, a group of downtrodden people who stand out as different because of their appearance but also because they are the cheap labor shipped in to work in the factory. They are not respected and they have little to no rights. As such, neither Wen nor Melik would normally have any contact with the other, save for the altercation in the cafeteria that sets off an avalanche of events that continually put them in each other's company. Their initial interactions are rocky at best, but before long, the pair begin to gradually trust one another...though not without reservations.

I usually try not to become overly infatuated with the romance in a story, instead hoping that the story can stand on its own without the love story to back it up, but for this novel, I've made an exception. Okay, maybe that's the wrong word because this story does hold its own without the romantic interludes between Wen and Melik. However, I really liked what was developing between those two, and I can't deny that it also pressed me to read on. The romance not only relies on the characters and their feelings but also on their part in society. Social injustices and peer opinions play a big role in Wen and Melik's potential relationship, and it's because of these things -- and the Ghost, can't forget him and his meddling -- that their relationship almost doesn't come to fruition. But it's everything leading up to their eventual coming together that makes their romance all the more precious: Melik defending Wen from his fellow Noor, Wen mending Melik during illness and injury, and on and on, despite their difference in class. And amidst everything they're already facing, they also have to confront their own prejudices against each other.

Just as Melik feels protective of Wen, Wen deems it necessary to stand up for the Noor, whom she grievously misjudged. She is compassionate toward the Noor when no one else is. But the Ghost, hiding in the shadows, is exacting his own brand of vengeance by way of granting wishes left for him on an altar by those in need...or those who have been wronged. He, too, feels the need to protect Wen, and it's through his wish granting and involvement in the daily lives of the factory workers that we begin to discover who or what he really is. As the mystery unravels, the Ghost's existence becomes less creepy and more sad with the realization of his existence.

And that pretty much sets the tone for the novel, which ends on a very bittersweet note. (Which is fine, since the author announced there will be a sequel.) This novel was truly exquisite: the writing was fluid, the mystery was solid, and the story itself was haunting and beautiful. I can't wait to see where the next chapter takes these characters.

"Wen always has medicine."

GIF it to me straight:

That's me to this book.
Profile Image for Chantal .
334 reviews823 followers
July 21, 2015
Do you ever read and a book and think that technically you’re supposed to love everything about it, but you just somehow find yourself completely detached from everything and everyone? That’s what happened to me while reading Of Metal and Wishes. The premise sounded like something I would really enjoy (a Phantom of the Opera retelling? Count me in!) and the story contained intriguing elements (Chinese influence, a slaughterhouse setting) but I didn’t care what would happen to any of the characters and was bored throughout.

After her mother’s death, a young girl called Wen is forced to leave her childhood cottage to live above her father’s medical clinic located next to a slaughterhouse. Now, instead sowing dresses, she sutures wounds to assist her father, the only doctor on the compound. In order to increase profits, the corrupt factory bosses bring in foreign workers as cheap labor, which stirs up deeply rooted race prejudices. In addition, the factory is apparently haunted by a ghost who can grant wishes to those it deems worthy. After a particular incident in the dining hall, angry and skeptical Wen demands the ghost prove its existence. A wish that brings dramatic consequences.

Sounds good, right? Not the most original premise but certainly capable of delivering a good story. Except, I HAD SO MANY PROBLEMS.

So let’s count:

Problem #1: Special snowflake syndrome

I really wanted to like Wen. She’s a doctor, stitches people up and can take quite a lot of disgusting sights. Who doesn’t love a competent main character? But she was also extremely bland and dull. She’s a good girl, gentle and caring, extremely naive (for no apparent reason) and quite stupid (at least her deductive skills are seriously questionable). But this wouldn’t even have bothered me really, hadn’t it been for what I can only call the special snowflake syndrome. Basically, Wen was presented as the One Good Non-Racist person, the Only One Who Can See The Truth and in that was painted as being completely exceptional. As is so often the case in YA fiction, the author tries to make us like and empathize with the female protagonist by depicting her as “different from all those other girls” (a book trope I absolutely hate). Every male character in the novel tells Wen repeatedly how special and different she is, when really, I couldn’t find anything even mildly remarkable about her.

Problem #2: Rape-culture and slut-shaming

Wen is constantly being harassed by various male characters in the story and at one point, almost sexually assaulted. Rape, molestation and sexual abuse are very real and horrifying problems and I really appreciated that Sarah Fine tried to discuss these themes in her novel. However, in my opinion it wasn’t well executed. I’ll try to explain what I mean by giving you a few examples:
I bite my lip. My skin is hot with shame and I can’t quite catch my breath. “Did they do that to all of you?”
She gives me a pitying look. “Only you.”
I look at them, and I look down at myself, and I know why. All of the other women are wearing simple brown dresses with straight skirts and plain sleeves. I look like a peacock in this embroidered dress of mine.

"You mourn for the boy who lifted your skirt in the cafeteria? Who exposed your skin for all to see?”
Something inside me shrivels. I hope I’m imagining the edge in his voice. “Yes, I do. He didn’t mean it.”

“You watch yourself, Wen. Mind your manners and don’t wear fancy little girl clothes like you do. You’re asking for trouble.”

So what you’re telling me is that it’s Wen’s fault that she is harassed? That the men just can’t help themselves? Wen believes that if something happens to her, it’s her own fault, that she is in the wrong. She feels obligated to wear unattractive clothes so she won’t be noticed by men (which of course doesn’t actually work because Problem #1). There is also the fact that everyone keeps calling Wen “little girl” which annoyed me so much after a while.
And then there is the issue of slut-shaming. Whenever Wen passes by the brothel outside the compound, she utters her disgust towards the women that work there.

I understand that having women being objectified was the point. That Sarah Fine wanted to make us aware of it, but it wasn’t even really addressed at all! Instead, we were told that this is just the way things are and that we have to accept it. The novel could have contained a powerful message but turned out to have no real depth at all.

Problem #3: Female friendships

Wen has a few female friends in the factory but all of them turned out to be extremely disappointing. In particular one of her closest friends just completely betrayed her and treated her like crap. Not helping Wen when she needed it, not standing be her friend. There is clearly zero trust, zero loyalty and zero solidarity between them. So what exactly makes you think your friends, Wen?
It seemed to me that the only reason Sarah Fine even put other female characters into the story was to show us how special and pure the protagonist is. Apparently, it’s impossible for a girl to be amazing and the star in her own story without putting down other female characters.

Problem #4: World building

Wen’s culture has a Chinese influence but I couldn’t help but wish we would have gotten more of that Asian feel. Honestly, if it weren’t for the cover, I don’t even think that would have been obvious. I appreciate the diversity but I think it should have been done more elaborately.
I also would have liked to have a little more insight into what it was like outside of the slaughterhouse compound. We know close to nothing of the outside world, and while this might serve as a way to create a sense of confinement, I think more information would have been really interesting and would have benefitted the story.

Problem #5: Romance

I don’t even know what to say, it was just hopelessly bland. Maybe it was just because I didn’t care what happened to either of them, but I didn’t feel any chemistry between Wen and Melik. I didn’t root for them, there seemed to be no depth of feeling. They seemed to always repeat the same words to each other; Melik’s standard phrase “Wen always has medicine” wasn’t even slightly romantic or endearing and all Wen seemed to be able to think about Melik was “this Noor boy who doesn’t know his place” (seriously, Sarah Fine must have used that exact sentence over ten times throughout the novel).
Also, there was love triangle (more on that below).

Problem #6: Pacing

Compared to other fantasy novels this one was relatively short. But somehow, I still felt like the story was dragged out. The best way I can describe it is by saying that I felt like the author dragged the novel in length instead of depth. Instead of filling pages by developing characters and themes, Sarah Fine strung one event after the other without it ever really going anywhere. I was bored throughout the first two thirds and the last third felt rushed.

Problem #7: Writing

I had trouble connecting with Sarah Fine’s writing. It was very repetitive and some of the metaphors and similes used were very clumsy. I also had an issue with how gory this novel was. Let me explain: I have never before criticized a book for having too much gore. Quite the opposite, I like it when authors don’t shy away from violence, blood and the disgusting things in life. Except that in this case, there was entirely too much gore and entirely too little of everything else. It was completely overdone. As much as I enjoy grisly descriptions, you can’t just use them to replace the story.

Problem #8: Complete lack of character development

This one speaks for itself. I was especially disappointed with what the author did (or didn’t do, I guess) with Bo’s character. He had the potential to be EPIC. He could have saved the entire story! Instead, she decided to make him kind of pathetic and didn’t develop him at all.

Now that my long rant has come to an end I will give you a few things I enjoyed:

- The love triangle: As mentioned above, there is a love triangle, BUT it didn’t really annoy me. It is clear from the beginning where Wen’s true affection lies and there is no back and forth between the two guys.
- Wen’s relationship with her father: I liked their relationship a lot because it was complex and realistic. Wen loved her father but she also saw that he had many flaws and her father was trying to do the best he could to keep Wen safe.
- The themes: The novel tackled themes such as race and class in a good manner.

Honestly, no one is more surprised than me that I didn’t like this book. I’m usually a sucker for these kinds of historical fantasy stories. But this one just rubbed me the wrong way. If you are interested in reading a YA fantasy that deals with the topics of racism and prejudice I would steer you towards The Winner's Curse or The Girl of Fire and Thorns which both deal with the issues better and are much more enjoyable in my opinion. If you’re looking for something Asian inspired I suggest Eon: Dragoneye Reborn or Stormdancer, which both really utilize the different cultures to create their own unique world. I won’t be picking up the second book in the Of Metal and Wishes duology.

This review can also be found on The Book Geek!
Profile Image for Shannon.
3,029 reviews2,341 followers
May 23, 2017
I somehow completely missed that this was a Phantom of the Opera retelling when I started and honestly I don't think it really mattered much. This has the basic structure of Phantom but it's still its own story.

Wen is a great character Everyone in this book is a great character. They're incredibly well-fleshed-out considering how different they all are: the villains especially. Bad people come in all shapes and sizes in this story. At times it seems to feel overwhelming that so many people are just downright awful to Wen, but I think this is a nod to the source material, being that it's not a happy story. It also strays away from the usual YA tale where the protagonist is the "chosen one" or whatever and everything goes right or falls into place for them easily.

One big thing I really enjoyed was how the romance was handled. This isn't a romance by and large, it is definitely more of a science fiction (steampunk/dystopia) novel that just happens to have a romance in it. It's not insta-love, it's not overly mushy, it very much feels real.

I was also surprised at how gruesome this was: very graphic deaths, sexual harassment and rape (happens off-stage so you don't actually get details thankfully), oppression, and racism (lots, and lots of racism) - among other things. This wasn't a super heavy book though, I mean, the topics are definitely dark but it didn't make me uncomfortable to read ... well, scratch that. The scenes where Wen was being molested (she's 16 btw) actually did make me uncomfortable and I just wanted to skip those parts. 😬 Props to the author for making me feel that way ... I guess? Lol, kind of a weird thing to praise someone about.

Random note: figured I'd mention this is in first person present tense - something I know some people hate (I'm not bothered by it.) Also, for anyone sensitive to animal death, this takes place in a slaughterhouse. 🐮🔪🍖

So, I enjoyed this a lot. I've actually never read/seen Phantom but I get the gist of it. I don't think you need to know anything about it to read this though. It is very much its own entity and a great story to boot.
November 24, 2017

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🎃 Read for the Unapologetic Romance Readers Halloween 2017 Reading Challenge for the category of: a steampunk romance 🎃

I was wary about picking this one up because two reviewers I almost always agree with, Heather and Khanh, both gave this a pretty negative review. Also, it's steampunk and YA - two genres I often have issues with. Paired together? It seemed like too much. But THEN I found out that this was a Phantom of the Opera retelling and I was like, "Dude, I love that shiz."

But did I really love that shiz? After all, I think we all remember what happened when I tried to read ROSEBLOOD.

OF METAL AND WISHES has a pretty cool concept. It's set in this industrial universe, chopped up into districts that serve out various functions. Wen, the main character, is the daughter of the doctor/surgeon who works inside a slaughterhouse.

The workers are a different race than Wen's people, called "the Noor" and are dehumanized, called animals and barbarians by the people in the more prestigious roles. But Wen quickly finds sympathy with them because one of them, Melik, is hawt. He's not the "phantom," though. That role belongs to a mysterious figure called "Ghost" who haunts the slaughterhouse, answering the wishes of those who leave offerings at his shrine. Ghost allegedly died in a factory accident years ago, and while some laugh off those claims, mysterious things happen in the factory. Dangerous things. Deadly things.

I'm still laughing about The Phantom of the Slaughterhouse. I'm trying to decide if that's better or worse than The Phantom of the Rave. Probably worse, because neon lights and strobes can be pretty freaky, but it's hard to take a phantom seriously when he's trying to push his way through a bunch of swinging meat carcasses while still trying to look intimidating (note: this did not actually happen, but oh man, it would have been hilarious if it did - like Adam Levine in Animals).

OF METAL AND WISHES tries to tackle racism and rape culture but it fails at both because of some really bad mixed messages. Wen has all kinds of bad things to say about women who sell their bodies, and the men who take them up on that offer, but from her position of privilege it comes off as incredibly insensitive. Especially when she is put into that position later, multiple times (virtually all the men in this book are creeps). She holds herself to a different standard because she is "pure": as if being virginal somehow makes you less deserving of abuse and sexual harassment, which is an absolutely terrible mindset to have.

The racism, likewise, also feels very awkward. Wen comes across as very superior and sanctimonious, and when she feels betrayed by Melik, she's quick to resort to her old, racist beliefs as a means of channeling her rage. Which is realistic in a sense - people often show their true, racist colors when they're angry. But it just seemed to underscore the fact that Wen saw Melik - and the Noor - as being beneath her, and I never really got a sense that she had changed much as a person, even at the end of the book. She was still selfish and awful and judgemental.

Perhaps that could have been forgivable if the story had been better, but it wasn't. The pacing was very slow. The world-building was original, and reminded me of the grim, caste-segregated steampunk stories that Paolo Bacigalupi is well-known for, but Sarah Fine did not flesh out the world enough, and it felt more like a backdrop than a well-developed world. What a shame that was, because a dark and dangerous factory and creepy mechanical spiders could have served as the setting for a modern day Jungle, a la Sinclair Lewis. But this ended up feeling like yet another cliche, wallpaper YA forbidden love story masquerading as a dystopian.

1.5 stars
Profile Image for Maja (The Nocturnal Library).
1,013 reviews1,870 followers
August 6, 2014
4.5 stars
There is a ghost in the slaughterhouse. I kid you not. After our time in Suicide City with Lela Santos, this is where Sarah Fine chose to send us. A slaughterhouse. With a ghost inside. Can someone please give me a hug?

Of Metal and Wishes promised to be a terrifying and strangely beautiful story and it certainly delivered. It is practically unputdownable; once the atmosphere envelops you, the only way out is through the last page, and you have no choice but to go there. Fine’s writing is beautiful and lyrical and her prose flows effortlessly. It is both different from her previous works and similar in that it clearly shows the enormity of her talent and the richness of her imagination.

While Fine’s world has a distinctly Asian flavor, it’s best to keep in mind that it has no direct links to our world. I like my fantasies elaborate and far removed from anything familiar, but getting inspiration from Asian culture worked very well for Sarah Fine. Her world may not be the most detailed or clearly presented, but she gave us all the information we needed, and set an excellent foundation for the fabulously creepy atmosphere.

And it’s precisely this atmosphere that will leave readers enchanted. The slaughterhouse, where every nook and cranny is not only unexplored, but also extremely dangerous, provided an excellent setting for this story. We as readers are quickly transported to this place of dirt and blood, filled with loud noises and awful smells, that is somehow strangely beautiful as well.

Of course, even the worst of places (and the haunted slaughterhouse certainly qualifies) can be made beautiful simply by the pleasure of Wen’s company. Fine excels in creating fabulously well-rounded characters and Wen is perhaps my favorite so far. We see some growth in this book as she makes peace with her new reality, one where a young girl has few uses and none of them good.

I started Of Metal and Wishes last night and finished it a few hours later, trembling, teary-eyed and shaken to the core. The open, somewhat ambiguous ending was easier to bear once I learned that there is a sequel planned, scheduled for release in August 2015.

Profile Image for A.G. Howard.
Author 18 books8,669 followers
May 6, 2015
Awesome steampunkish Phantom of the Opera adaptation. Really want to read book 2!
Profile Image for Dani ❤️ Perspective of a Writer.
1,512 reviews5 followers
August 21, 2018
Check out more reviews @ Perspective of a Writer...

Wen's mother has just died and she's forced to move into the slaughterhouse to assist her father in the medical clinic. When one of the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor, humiliates Wen, she makes an impulsive wish to the ghost... and he grants it. Brutally. Wen, feeling guilt for her role, befriends the Noor and their leader, Melik. At the same time, she is lured by the mystery of the Ghost and learns he has a long connection to her. As conditions in the factory worsen for everyone, both Melik and the ghost prepare to take action.

The short review...

Let me preface by saying my rating is no joke... I really loved this book! I felt for Wen and the untenable situation her father's position put her in. The fact he couldn't support her made my heart break for their relationship. I appreciated Bo! I couldn't imagine what it would be like to have a protector like him... One without boundaries who would kill or worse without blinking. I fell in love with the noble Melik who has more on his plate than a romance with the enemy's daughter! This is the story of Phantom of the Opera reformed... it's unlike any world that you've read about before, but its populated with characters that will take you on a journey to walk in their shoes!

A word of caution (I do feel like I've had to qualify my love a ton in this review... but that's because its so different from what you expect; you can be easily disappointed if you go in with a lot of expectations...) This reads as if an Asian wrote it. There is no exotic-sizing of the Asian setting... Details are just facts... they aren't embellished to make the world feel more Asian. If you expect that you will be sorely disappointed. It's not poor writing... its writing them straight up as people, just like the white ones you read about or any other color people.

Cover & Title grade -> A-

I loved this cover and totally thought it was an adult book because of it despite the 16 year old protagonist. I think it's a suitable cover because the story reads like an adult book too. Even the title Of Metal and Wishes reads like an adult book! The fact its a YA book is quite odd and now none of the marketing material (cover, title, premise) fits the genre!

Why might you might NOT love Of Metal and Wishes the way I do?

-A melding of genres.
This is something I really enjoy! It's hard to carry off and many reader will reject a book outright because they aren't used to books falling outside of genres. If you say a book is a retelling they think Lunar Chronicles. They aren't expecting Of Metal and Wishes at all!

There is this tinge of steampunk... It's not all gears and air ships in here... It's just enough to make the story sinister and the slaughterhouse a place to fear.

There is also a bit of the paranormal in a ghost that can grant wishes... deadly wishes that seem like no power on earth could have made them possible (which is so freaking cool!) But really there is nothing really supernatural to the story; so while I enjoyed the payout its nothing what you expect...

It's also a quite realistic historical novel... with more mundane plot than fantastical happenings (even with a ghost!) This unites the story in many ways but it also keeps the book firmly grounded in universal themes rather than modern ones.

Then there is the dystopian aspect to the slaughterhouse setting. It's clear the powers that be are using the workers, including Wen and her father, though they have it better than most. This isn't your typical triumph over evil!

We have a lovely slow burn romance that will melt your heart even as they fight racism and oppression that is so bad you really can't imagine either party escaping! And really with the historical accuracy and the dystopian setting not going your typical way can we expect a happy ending at all for this OTP?!

And finally we have this incredible Asian world! We start in this tight slaughterhouse environment where the world is incredibly small. The nearby town is explained but that is the sum total of the world, except for the shipped in workers... The Noor are people they have been at war with and whom they now use for cheap labor. (Probably Mongolians from the time China was at war with each other... Or even people from the middle east...)

As you can see there has been this working of different genres into the story but unexpected aspects have been used that don't net the typical payouts! The Asian world isn't exotic at all like we expect... Some may feel this is poor writing, slow plotting and lack of development. I saw it more as incredible development! It's clear that the author thought out the typical tropes and worked to subvert what you would expect while at the same time framing it out in this retelling of Phantom of the Opera! And what a rendition of the classic story it is!!

-Rape culture and slut shaming.
Okay... this is a hot topic in the YA community as mainly women read and they want modern focuses and treatments for girls. That's all well and good, really!! BUT this is a historical book... set in the 1900s in Asia. The author did remain true to this idea even though she also added elements from other genres. As such people of a certain class in the 1900s are looked at by the poor in a certain way...

What I'm trying to say is that she didn't think she was a special snowflake... it wasn't groundless and ridiculous at all that so many men wanted to be with this pretty, young and noble girl! She is considered high class. She has a father who has fallen on hard times so that makes her basically protection-less! What does that mean in this society?! Lower class men will pursue her like they are a lion and she a gazelle... If they can take her down and seal the deal then they just rose in the world, because they've been with a woman above their class level.

Now what shows that Sarah Fine is a great author is that she didn't state any of this outright! She didn't talk about how women of a higher class are held to a higher standard. That they do slut shame their higher class women because their virtue is what is for sale. And the poor... they resent her! They know their men will be out for her if they can get her and more than likely one of them will be successful and one of their women will be on the losing end. That is all part of the world building in the book and it was ALL SHOWN! WOW!

Now obviously whoever marketed this to teenagers in the YA market didn't consider that YA readers wouldn't give a rat's ass that this is historically accurate and actually well written world building!! So if you only want to see modern themes, even in historical stories then this will probably make your blood boil. As for me, I accepted that this is the world that Wen lived in... I took the opportunity to feel what she did. I actually didn't see how any of the men in her life (her father, Bo or Melik) could protect her. In this culture she'd have eventually been raped or forced to leave.

-The adult ending.
In the real (i.e. adult) world there are no happy endings. Difficulties get in the way of people staying together and social problems aren't solved by love. This is how many adult books read (though there is chick lit, YA stories written for those who disdain YA fiction, hence they have happy endings most of the time!) The more extreme a person the more effect they have on their world! This is NOT how YA readers like their endings... Cliffhangers are fine but ONLY if there is a sequel... Blessedly there is (and yes, I'm dying to read it) BUT...

I didn't mind the ending at all... it was right in line with the tone and plotting of the rest of the book. It was messy and real and sometimes all we've got are the best times even as we go on with what we can do! If this sounds good to you then like me you'll LOVE this book...

As a Writer...

The writing is quite good and it sucks you into the story despite the fact it has ZERO of the elements normally to be found in a YA book, well except for the fact Wen is 16 years old. These kinds of books are hard to rate and review because they are being pushed on an audience that is going to either love the book despite it being written for an adult audience or hated because it lacks the elements that most YA readers love! And if you look at the ratings and reviews that is exactly what happened!

Of Metal and Wishes is a dark but uplifting retelling of Phantom of the Opera which took on a life of its own. Set in a historically dystopian Asia in a claustrophobic slaughterhouse we meet a monster, a noble and a slave and read on as the paths of their lives cross and intertwine. The explosion that is the end of this story is powerful but oh so adult!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Authenticity
⋆ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Writing Style
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Plot & Pacing
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ World Building

You can find this review and many others on my book blog @ Perspective of a Writer. See my special perspective at the bottom of my reviews under the typewriter...
Profile Image for Rashika (is tired).
976 reviews714 followers
August 1, 2014
***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

When I first found out that Sarah Fine had a new book coming out, I was over the moon. My expectations soared as I read the blurb, and I knew I needed this book in my life. It was only a couple weeks before reading this that I found out that this book was actually a retelling of The Phantom of the Opera. I don’t remember much from the movie (and I’ve never read the book) but I remembered the haunting atmosphere and the chills and how absolutely scared I was at some points (I was also 8 when I watched the movie, so there is that) and I was definitely curious to see how Fine would incorporate all the elements of the tale into this retelling. She aced. While this was not a 5 star read for me, it was definitely a memorable one.

Wen was a very likeable character. I’ll admit there were moments when I wasn’t her biggest fan, but for the most part, she was pretty likeable. After her initial prejudice, she quickly realized that everything she has been told about the Noor wasn't true and perhaps they weren't the savages people make them out to be. She started seeing the injustice they suffered. When she made these realizations, she did her best to compensate for the mistakes she has made and the pain she has caused and that was what made her so likeable to me. She was compassionate, but at the same time, she was guilt-ridden which made her more human and real.

One of the things that really stuck with me throughout the book was the injustice the Noor suffered. To say it broke my heart is an understatement. I was genuinely terrified at times at the ignorance and how easily judgement could be passed to a whole group of people. I was horrified at how at every turn, there were so much bad treatment done against them just for who they were. The sad thing about this is that it isn’t as uncommon in our own world as one might think.

But what really made me happy was how in spite of all the injustices they suffered, they remained strong. They kept their heads up, but they also didn't go out of their way looking for fights because they realized that they would become targets and endanger themselves further.

Melik, their leader, stole my heart. Melik was the kind of love interest I love. He was incredibly sweet, but at the same time he was strong. He stood up for what he believed in and would always protect his own. I am not going to say more about him because I don’t know what to say, except that he was an INCREDIBLE character and a swoonworthy love interest.

The romance between the two could be considered slightly insta-love, but in all honesty, I didn’t mind in the slightest. It was just so sweet. It's the kind of romance I enjoy and the best thing is that it didn't take over the plot. There were so much more going on than just the romance even though it did play an important role, considering the position of the Noors in the society.

Take note, though, that in my mind, there wasn’t a love triangle in this story, although there were hints of one. If you’ve seen or read The Phantom of the Opera you’ll already know what I mean and if you haven’t, I hope you have fun finding out!

What really made this book so incredible was the atmosphere the author created. It was gloomy and there were times while reading the book I felt so overwhelmed, especially in the beginning, but the author weaved in other things to make this book the masterpiece that it is.

Fine marvelously entwined elements of the original tale into this book, and at times I almost wanted to jump up and clap my hands when I noticed something. The world she built based on the original tale shined and I was definitely not disappointed.

Especially in terms of the plot. Fine managed to create something thoroughly original with this retelling and I was always on my toes. I devoured the book and I was so surprised when it came to a somewhat abrupt end.

All I want right now is a copy of the sequel in my hands.

With all that said, I haven’t even mentioned one of the most important characters in this book, the ghost (who shall not be named for fear of spoilers). And I will not be discussing the ghost further because this is a character you need to get to know yourselves. The ghost was exquisitely developed and was definitely a fantastic character. Whether or not I liked the ghost… well, that’s another story.

This is a gloriously written book and I was not let down in the least. With a great set of characters, a gloomy atmosphere and an almost chilling plot, this book is not something you would want to miss.
Profile Image for ♥ Sarah.
539 reviews127 followers
September 30, 2014

I was tricked by the enchantingly dreamy, beautiful cover. And the promising luster of the strange, eerie, and wonderful: a dash of steampunk, a tour de force romance, and a magical re-telling of The Phantom of the Opera. It was the perfect set up. Needless to say, I had very high hopes.

There were parts that were tolerable about this book. After all, I read this in only a couple of hours. It had the whole, “re-telling” (albeit, a very LOOSE retelling) thing going on. It did succeed in capturing a SMALL piece of the marvelous darkness the Phantom of the Opera oozed. But I'm afraid that’s where my compliments end.

The lush mise-en-scene of the Opera House was reduced to a shabby old factory. And ugh, the details were lost in my RAGE at the characterization of the cast. I was eager to see what FINE would do with her choice of diverse characters, how she would mold and capitalize on Wen’s “otherness” – but I think that was part of the problem (and why this book was a HUGE FAIL – for me).

In trying to create that otherworldly, exotic, strange, and mystifying character/story, FINE made Wen “the other.” FINE pushed the stereotype of ASIAN characters and didn’t break any boundaries. She enforced those boundaries, perpetuated them, actually. She did nothing creative or unique with Wen’s otherness, except to use it as a clutch – a deformity. It was embarrassing to read.

I was personally offended at how Wen constantly degraded her own culture and people - the "Itanyai." NONE of her “people” with “almond-shaped eyes” and “thick” or “course black hair” and “dark brown/black eyes” (please keep in mind that I’m paraphrasing here), had ANY redeeming qualities. It was obvious from these descriptions – and from the cover – that FINE was referring to Asians.

Basically, long story short?
Wen mentioned how her people were:
SHORT (or at least, shorter than the Noor people...these Noors were people with "copper" colored hair, "jade" colored eyes, with brave, courageous men - one of whom she falls madly in love with. Puke.);
and so, so much more.

Wen constantly complained about how her father was "scared" and how detached he was; how he didn't even know how to communicate with her. Mkay, typical "Asian" stereotype. Great. Want a cookie? How about a virtual PUNCH in your ignorant face?

Also, Wen was under constant threat of rape by her own men, and her boss. She found them repulsive and creepy, and she wished to be a Noor woman who could openly touch and kiss and love her -- wait for it -- NOOR man, Melik. [I have no words, perhaps a sigh and an eye-roll will suffice?]

I really don't particularly feel like going IN DEPTH on how much FINE subtly degraded Asians -- but, actually, it was quite GLARINGLY OBVIOUS to me. I was SO SO SO offended!

Also, the "romance" b/w Wen and the Noor boy, it was some bullshit *instalove* with no real depth. His one-liners, "Wen always has medicine" was not very romantic, endearing, or cute. Sorry, but no. They barely spoke each other's languages. I don't know why FINE wanted to create an interracial love connection/couple, but it just didn't work here. Especially because the two cultures were so POLARIZED, whereby ONE (the Asian one) was wholly demonized, and the other, exalted.

Oh, and what's new? Poor, self-loathing Asian chick getting rescued by yet another Strong White Man!! WHEEEE! Soooooo original...

I don't even want to get into the Ghost. His name was, "BO" (wtfomg)... His character had so much potential. He could have been the POWER CARD; it could have redeemed this whole piece of shit story for me. Yet, FINE didn't do a single fantastic, creative thing with his character, except to reduce his POTENTIAL DARK MAGNIFICENCE to some mechanical toy invalid. Another poor, pathetic, jealous monster. Just another face of the Asian Man.

I'm still fuming. Such a waste.
Profile Image for Keertana.
1,126 reviews2,162 followers
August 5, 2014
Rating: 3.5 Stars

First and foremost, you should know that I've never read or seen "The Phantom of the Opera." Secondly, you should know that I read Of Metal and Wishes not even knowing it was a re-telling of the above classic. So. If you're looking for a comprehensive review comparing these two novels, you've come to the wrong place.

Nevertheless, despite my lack of insight into the re-telling aspect of Of Metal and Wishes, I enjoyed it immensely. Wen assists her father in a medical clinic located in a slaughterhouse--a slaughterhouse where a ghost resides. The Noor, a cast hired on as cheap manual labor, begin working at the slaughterhouse. When one humiliates Wen, she impulsively makes a wish to the Ghost and is shocked when it is granted in a violent manner. In an effort to ease her guilt, she befriends the leader of the Noor, Melik. But before long, Wen is torn between her growing feelings for Melik and her friendship with the Ghost. After all, nothing but brutality and violence are certain in the slaughterhouse and if Wen isn't careful, the two just may follow hot on her heels...

Where Of Metal and Wishes shines is in creating a palpable atmosphere. I don't usually gravitate towards horror/thriller novels--so I can hardly compare Fine with connoisseurs of the genre such as Stephen King--but the tension throughout the narrative reminded me distinctly of the impending sense of doom one feels when reading Rebecca or Nine Coaches Waiting. It doesn't overwhelm the senses but, rather, it lingers, festering until the dam breaks and the plot finally reaches its peak. Fine paces her tale impeccably, adjusting the background sensation in tune, and I found this to enhance the experience of the novel memorably.

Of Metal and Wishes, moreover, features a sympathetic heroine in Wen. Not only is she compassionate and considerate, but her blunders early in the novel prove that she isn't above mistake or reproach. Thus, it is impossible not to feel a connection with well-meaning Wen. Where I grow weary of her character, however, is in her distinctly damsel-in-distress portrayal. Now, perhaps this is my ignorance speaking and Fine is simply sticking to integral plot points as she re-tells "The Phantom of the Opera" but I found myself disturbed by the treatment of women in Of Metal and Wishes. If a young girl is seen alone with a man, it instantly means she is "loose" of morals, or a prostitute. Seriously, the number of times Wen, our protagonist, was forced to ward off unwanted sexual attention became tiresome. It did little for the setting--which I will discuss in a bit--and even less for the character growth. Additionally, I'm not a fan of dilemmas which are created to be solved with violence. For the romantic interest to prove himself by beating up the men who wanted to sleep with Wen seems far too reminiscent of Beautiful Disaster to me. It isn't a flaw, exactly, as Fine handles the issues she brings up with aplomb, but I had hoped YA was moving away from the artificial love stories of fists and helpless maidens.

Fine's tale further lost me with its setting. The Noor are--I believe, but do feel free to correct me if I'm wrong--a fictional group whose physical characteristics are similar to those of Asian origin. Yet, the novel contains a distinctly historical feel to it which threw me off on more than one occasion. The conflicts within this novel are merely fictional, as is the political turmoil, but it felt as if it lacked a true historical thread to tie it back to reality--mainly because aspects of the Noor culture are, certainly, derived from historical origins in Ancient China. What I did enjoy about this twist was the fact that Fine pitted two opposing social classes of people--neither of which were Caucasian--and I found that the commentary she was able to make as a result was thought-provoking. Nevertheless, I feel as if Of Metal and Wishes could have benefited from a slightly more concrete--grounded, if you will--historical air to it, particularly as the treatment of women alludes to a much older time period in history though Wen's father's dreams of sending her to medical school allude to far more recent times. It continued to plague me as the tale went on and, let me assure you, confusion is not a sensation I welcome.

Of Metal and Wishes is ideal for lovers of thriller/horror novels, especially as its genre contains just a hint of steampunk, romance, and hints at a sequel (though, as far as I know, a follow-up has not been confirmed). So far, none of Fine's works have been able to compare to her debut--for me, at least--but I can easily see her latest becoming a favorite among many. If there's anything Fine has proved with this one it is that no genre can deter her--she is, well and truly, a versatile writer.
Profile Image for Krys.
732 reviews170 followers
October 2, 2014

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.

- review courtesy of www.bibliopunkkreads.com
Profile Image for Mlpmom (Book Reviewer).
2,976 reviews362 followers
July 7, 2014
I have been a huge fan of Ms. Fine's beautiful and sometimes dark and emotional writing since picking up her very first book. She is one of those authors that completely gets you immersed in the world she has created and before you know it you are completely lost to it.

Her beautiful and poignant writing is something to be revered and cherished. Something that can't be rushed or hurried as you dive into the breathtaking prose and soak it all in.

The almost steampunk Phantom of the Opera feel to this is so well done, so captivating that once you start you don't want to stop reading. You are immediately drawn right into Wen's world.

The darkness to this is just wonderful and yes, I know how that sounds but let me explain, Fine has a way of making even dark worlds full of hopelessness and despair, beautiful. You can see them, they become tangible so much so that it seems like you can reach through the very pages and feel the world around you and experience it for yourself. That bleakness, that hopelessness is Wen's world and because of it, it makes those rare happy times, those rare moments of sunshine so much brighter and so much better.

You want to cheer on the good guys and boo at the bad guys and even the monsters, you will find irresistible.

This was so well done I am dying to get my hands on the second book and so very glad that Wen's story isn't over yet, in fact, I have a suspicion that it has only just begun.
Profile Image for Lindsay Cummings.
Author 13 books5,145 followers
January 30, 2014
AMAZING BOOK...a horrific, gorgeous, haunting, perfectly told rendition of Phantom of the Opera.

I finished it in just a few days! I had no idea what to expect when I started this one...especially because the characters lived in a completely different culture than what I'm used to in the United States. Sometimes, as a reader, that can be uncomfortable...but the characters and the story sucked me right in, and I didn't want to come back out once I started.
What a fantastic writing style---beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I loved it!! Congrats to Sarah Fine. I am sure this book will mesmerize readers in the same way it did for me. I can't wait for this one to hit shelves. Will recommend to any and all readers.
Profile Image for Beth  (YA Books Central).
415 reviews115 followers
August 9, 2015
So first of all...I have loved each and every book that Sarah Fine has co-authored or written. Every story she writes is so full of heart and suspense. I find myself completely intertwined in every story......SO....when I found out Sarah had written a new novel called Of Metal And Wishes that was supposed to be a re-telling of The Phantom of The Opera...then of course I had to get my hands on it!!!!! and I was not disappointed. Of Metal and Wishes is a phenomenally written YA Romance and Suspense with a touch of Horror added in. Keep in mind that this book is not for the faint of heart....it is close to being in the adult genre in my opinion and this only makes it better!

“So I take a few steps into the dark hallway, until the light around me turns from gray yellow to brown black, stopping before I sink into inky obsidian darkness. I’ve never been afraid of the dark, though now I wonder if I should be.”

Of Metal and Wishes is the story of Wen and her life at Gochan One, which is the slaughterhouse where her father works as the clinic doctor. Wen is her father's assistant and they moved to Gochan One after her mother passed away from cancer and her father could no longer afford the middle class life. Wen and her father are honorable, kind people who treat every person at the slaughterhouse regardless of class level. Her father, Guiren, is a kind man who is just trying to survive in the horrible world while trying his best to protect his daughter, Wen.

One day a new set of workers arrives at Gochan One called The Noor. The Noor are poor citizens who have come to Gochan One in hopes of making enough money to help their families back home and rebuild their lands.... but little do they know....the plant manager, Mugo, has different plans for the Noor. Mugo is a horrific man who steals money from the workers and when they begin to lose their usefulness he sends them off to even worse labor camps.

One of the Noor is a young man named Melik. Wen finds herself immediately attracted to Melik and the feeling is mutual...Melik and Wen's love story is beautiful and develops over time which is so much better than "insta-love."

“Something inside me has shifted, and now part of me is not my own.”

After spending time with some of the Noor people...Wen begins to realize that the portrayal of the Noor has been completely incorrect....All the Noor want is to live in peace and be able to feed their families.

Amongst the people of Gochan One there lives a legend....a legend who has been named "Ghost." Ghost is worshiped and the people build him an altar where they can leave "wishes" for the Ghost and he chooses which ones he wants to answers. Sometimes the wishes are good and noble and sometimes they are bad and can be hurtful to others. Wen has never believed in the Ghost before....until something happens to Wen that makes her want to get revenge on the ones who hurt her...so she makes a wish at the alter....and the Ghost grants it......

This begins the suspense-filled horror story Of Metal and Wishes....There is so much action and intensity through-out this entire book. I found myself flipping pages late into the night just to find out what happened next. Wen is beautiful and young....and in a factory full of men...well....this could be a bad thing..if you get my drift. BUT there are lots of people that take care of Wen and defend her when you least expect it. I absolutely loved this book and all the characters. Each character is special and unique and will do things that just grab at your heartstrings. There were some I absolutely loved and some I hated so much I wanted to scream.....

If you have never read a Sarah Fine book....this is a great one to start!!!! Get ready....Sarah Fine takes you on a intense, surprise-filled thrill ride with Of Metals and Wishes....
Profile Image for Katherine.
759 reviews346 followers
March 30, 2019
”They give up their hard-earned money and food to make offerings to the Ghost of Gochan One. They write their silly prayers and leave them at his altar at the front of the factory. They truly believe that he responds. I think he is nothing more than the bundling together of the useless wishes of the people who must spend their days in a terrible place like this.”

I love retellings of stories. But I tend to see the same stories retold over and over again: Beauty and the Beast. Cinderella. Anything by Jane Austen. So when an author thinks outside the box and writes a retelling of a lesser known tale, it makes my little heart happy. Because there are so many interesting classics tales out there (fairytales, folktales, myths, literature) that deserve a chance to be retold. When it’s done right, it’s even better. And this haunting reimagining of Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera can be added to the illustrious list.

Wen lives with her father in a meatpacking factory in the medical clinic above the factory. It’s hard work, the conditions are deplorable, and the atmosphere is one of absolute despair. Most of the labor is acquired through the Noor, whose relationship with the Itanyai people is fraught and strained. But this isn’t any normal meatpacking factory. This is a factory haunted by a ghost; or so the tales go. Make an offering and leave a wish, and if the Ghost so decides, he’ll grant it for you. Wen has never believed in the ghost before, but when a Noor worker humiliates her, she makes a wish out of spite.
”’Ghost, show me what you can do. Prove yourself to me. I want to be impressed.’”
But when the Ghost responds in a less than kind manner, and more accidents continue to happen, Wen must come to terms with the fact that maybe this ghost isn’t so imaginary after all.

A science fiction retelling of The Phantom of the Opera set in a Chinese inspired meatpacking house. I mean, does that not sound totally badass or what? This book was haunting, ethereal, darkly, and brutally beautiful. The world and different ethnicities of people created by the author for her steam-punk inspired world was done magnificently. The writing had an almost cinematic quality to it, as if it would easily jump from the page to the screen if Hollywood ever decides to come calling. The moral questions the characters ask are done wonderfully. The novel perfectly captures the essence of not only The Phantom of the Opera, but of The Jungle by Upton Sinclair and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Monsters versus humans, what is fair treatment of workers, and acceptance all play their part here.

Wen was a character of contradictions, but also a character who grows tremendously from when we first meet her. In the beginning, she is mild, meek, and timid. She’s more likely to hide behind a person when in trouble than confront it head on. But as she progresses, her relationship with both Melik, a Noor worker, and the infamous Opera ghost will help her become a much more strong, brave character. And I liked that. The character development in all of the characters was done quite well. Her romance with Melik was bittersweet, and while it had shades of instalove, it wasn’t enough to become excruciatingly annoying. Melik was OK, but apart from being brave, he was a little bit bland. On his own, I might have a different opinion. But he’s just a blip in the wind compared to Bo.

Bo, the Opera Ghost. Quite possibly my favorite character in the book. The tortured, disfigured antihero of the slaughterhouse factory. Who has a very thwarted view on right and wrong. He’s extremely complicated to figure out, and you’re never quite sure what side he’s on. Wen describes is best; he is a menagerie of opposites fused together to make something potentially terrifying.
”He is human, he is a boy, he is evil and good fused together. My Ghost. My rescuer. My enemy, my friend.”
And at times, he can be terrifying. Terrifyingly good at justifying his behavior and twisting the explanation to fit his own purpose. And yet underneath his disfiguring metal armor and mercurial temper, is the desire to do belong, to have a friend, someone who understands him and accepts him for who he is. And the person he’s deemed for this to happen is Wen.
”’I only wanted to know you, Wen. I’ve wanted to know you for so long. Ever since your father talked about you, I’ve been living on that wish, that one day you would come to me, and you would see me for what I am, and still you would not leave.’”
His interactions with Wen are at times some of the most infuriating yet heartbreaking interactions of the entire story. Because though we as readers know it, and Wen knows it, it takes a long time for Bo to come to realize that his wish for Wen to accept him and be his companion, to stay with him, will never come true.
”’I wanted to give you everything,’ he says. ‘I wanted to build a world where you and I could play and live and where no one else would harm us, ever.’”
**All the tears.** In his character, the author perfectly captures the original character of Erik the Phantom.

A haunting retelling of a lesser known take that deserves all the attention. I can’t say it for the second book, though, so just pretend that this is a standalone and you’ll be able to enjoy it for what its worth, and not what the publishers wanted it to be.
Profile Image for Alexa.
350 reviews286 followers
August 5, 2014
My review can also be found on my blog Collections.

As soon as I finished reading chapter one, I just knew I was going to love this book. The eerie setting gave me a feeling similar to what I get when I look at photos of old buildings and factories. Wonder and awe. I felt this way not only with the setting but the entire story. It wasn't at all a surprise though because Of Metal and Wishes is the fourth novel I've read by Sarah Fine and her stories are some of my absolute favorites.

Of Metal and Wishes revolved around Wen, a sixteen-year-old girl trying to adjust to living with her doctor father at the local slaughterhouse Gochan One. Although she was friendly with many workers at the factory, it didn't stop the loneliness and sadness that consumed her ever since the death of her mother. Her responsibilities as her father's assistant kept her busy and were a comforting distraction, but life at Gochan One became complicated and dangerous for Wen once the barbaric Noor were hired to work there and she challenged the ghost haunting the factory.

While Wen seemed unsure of herself and what she wanted in the beginning, there was a quiet fierceness to her that was hard to miss. Her compassion and bravery were traits I really admired about her. When most of her people treated the Noor horribly, she took care of the Noor and stood up for them. Sometimes she made mistakes or acted impulsively, but she always tried to do the right thing and didn't allow others to influence her decisions. She went through a lot in this book and grew immensely, and I found her to be such a great and relatable character.

The Noor, specifically their leader Melik, had quite an impact on Wen. To most of Wen's people, the Noor are considered lower than dirt. Wen was quick to judge them too, but she eventually saw how wrong she was. Melik was honorable, hardworking, and treated his people with respect, which fascinated Wen because it didn't match what she had been told about the Noor at all. Melik had me swooning with his words, his actions, and the attention he gave Wen. I loved their tentative romance and how comfortable and protective they were of each other. What they shared was sweet and slow-burning, and I was always so happy when they had moments alone together. Being around Melik and the other Noor really helped Wen to see the world in a different way.

The mysterious Ghost was another important part of Wen's journey. He brought life to the factory, granting wishes to the workers and making Wen feel less alone. However, he also brought fear and death, and I didn't know whether or not to trust him. His obsession with Wen was a curse, but I admit, in a way, it was a blessing for her as well. If it weren't him, Wen wouldn't have gone through all the guilt that she did, but without him, she wouldn't have survived many of the things she experienced. I guess that's why I found myself sympathizing with him. He did some pretty horrible things in the factory, yet I thought he proved that redemption was possible. It even made me wish things had ended differently for him all those years ago, and I know Wen felt the same way.

I really liked that Of Metal and Wishes showed the importance of kindness, trust, friendship, and love. For Wen and those she cared about, the final chapters of the book were a bit heartbreaking and bittersweet. But it was also full of hope, which made it a fitting end to the story. With its beautiful and fluid writing and characters that were remarkable and inspiring, Of Metal and Wishes easily became one of my favorite books this year. I can't recommend it enough, and I can't wait to read the sequel!
Profile Image for Heather *sad DNF queen*.
Author 17 books430 followers
October 20, 2014
This started out a surprising four stars for me, but the stars quickly dropped off somewhere around the halfway mark. That's when the book took on a weird, judgmental sort of tone. You know, virginity is good, whoring is bad and deserves contempt. Virginity is treated as a prize. It's very subtle in this book, but clear.

The main character, Wen, is in constant danger of being raped, and not just from one bad guy. The majority of men in this book leer at or threaten her at some point. I read a couple reviews calling this book "futuristic" and "steampunk." I didn't feel this book fit into either of those categories, but maybe that's just me. Even so, the way Wen was treated as a female seemed an unnecessary way to victimize her and add drama.

I haven't noticed other reviews mentioning these particular things, so maybe it's just me. But even though Wen eventually recognizes that sometimes people have to do what they have to do in order to eat (like become whores), the rest of the book was soured for me. I realized how blah the love interests were, and how every man who wasn't a love interest was described as "greasy" or toad-like" or as having a "soft middle" (paraphrasing). Stuff like that. Because if a guy isn't handsome or a love interest, he's gross.

So, yeah. I can't say this was a huge disappointment, and I'm not exactly surprised not to have liked it, but after a fairly strong beginning, this book was definitely a letdown.
Profile Image for Shelley.
5,103 reviews458 followers
September 5, 2015
*Genre* Retellings, Fantasy, Young Adult
*rating* 3.5-4

*My Thoughts*

Of Metal and Wishes is the first installment in the Of Metal and Wishes series by Sarah Fine. Sixteen-year-old Wen, an Itanyai, assists her father in his medical clinic at the local slaughterhouse. Wen and her family were once high class society, until her mother passed away, and was sent to live with her father at the factory. Wen has heard about a ghost that supposedly grants wishes to those who leave offerings to him.

*Full Review Posted @ Gizmos Reviews*


Published August 5th 2014 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Profile Image for Minni Mouse.
595 reviews949 followers
May 20, 2017
It should be a requirement that one needs to have the soundtrack to The Phantom of the Opera on in the background while reading this book. Certain parts of the book demand the same loneliness and dark desperation as "Music of the Night" and "Down Once More."

What a wonderful, wonderful book. An easy read you can get through in one sitting.

1) Maybe it's because this is my first steampunkish book, but I thought the world building was terrific. The metal and piping and rust...you could hear the clinging and clanking of the factory at night as well as smell the sweat and dirt off the workers. I also thought the animosity surrounding the Noor was well done. Their plight and revolution wasn't the main center of the story, but it certainly gave the plot a stronger backbone.

2) The relationship between Wen, a privileged member of the middle class and Melik, a grunt from the lower class Noor, was so reminiscent of Kestrel and Arin from The Winner's Curse, and we all know how much I loved the taboo social hierarchy relationship from The Winner's Curse.

3) Bo was exactly like the pitiable Phantom. He's a bit eccentric and dangerous and mad, but he's also a genius. In this case, Bo is a genius with his inventions versus the Phantom with his music. He's also certifiably creepy with the way he keeps tabs on Wen, as he is heartless with the way he exacts an unnerving sense of justice on people he deems deserving of it.

Does everyone and their buddy really need to lust after 16-year-old Wen with their rapey eyes and mushroom fingers?

I absolutely would recommend this book. Sarah Fine knows how to write and tug at our heartstrings, but know that she also seems to like dangling our female characters in front of male predators.

Oh, and thumbs up for the Eastern Asian setting. My people are now just ten steps away from making it into mainstream media. Now. Does anybody want to make this into a feature film and cast me in it?
Profile Image for starryeyedjen.
1,640 reviews1,231 followers
June 3, 2015
Re-read/listen so that I can get to the sequel posthaste! :D

Original review here.

Loved it just as much upon the second reading. All the Wen and Melik feels right now. CANNOT WAIT to start Of Dreams and Rust! And I'm mulling over whether to read Of Shadows and Obsession, but I'm not sure yet. After re-reading, I'm still kind of pissed at Bo, though I know he redeemed himself in the end...
Profile Image for Alyssa.
1,069 reviews838 followers
July 29, 2014
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine
Book One of the Of Metal and Wishes series
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss

Summary (from Goodreads):

There are whispers of a ghost in the slaughterhouse where sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic—a ghost who grants wishes to those who need them most. When one of the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor, humiliates Wen, she makes an impulsive wish of her own, and the Ghost grants it. Brutally.

Guilt-ridden, Wen befriends the Noor, including their outspoken leader, a young man named Melik. At the same time, she is lured by the mystery of the Ghost and learns he has been watching her … for a very long time.

As deadly accidents fuel tensions within the factory, Wen must confront her growing feelings for Melik, who is enraged at the sadistic factory bosses and the prejudice faced by his people at the hand of Wen’s, and her need to appease the Ghost, who is determined to protect her against any threat—real or imagined. She must decide whom she can trust, because as her heart is torn, the factory is exploding around her … and she might go down with it.

What I Liked:

I remember watching The Phantom of the Opera in elementary school - I think it had just come out, so I must have been in fourth or fifth grade. I don't remember the movie very much, to be honest, but I remember LOVING it. So when I saw this book, I thought two things: 1) Another Sarah Fine book, yay! and 2) a book based on The Phantom of the Opera, COOL! This book was stunning, people. I liked it a lot!

Wen lives in a factory with her father. Years ago, they used to be of the upper class, better off, not in need of food or money. But after Wen's mother dies, Wen joins her father in the factory, and assists him in tending to injuries. Wen, her father, and the people of the factory are Itanyai. When a trainload of Noor come to the factory to work, things are set in motion. The Noor speak a different language, look different, and are treated like barbarians. They are poor and skinny and weak, but all they want to do is work. I haven't mentioned the Ghost yet - there is a Ghost that everyone prays to/leaves wishes. He is a dead worker of the factory, but is he really dead? He seems to have taken a liking to Wen, punishing a Noor boy after the boy pulled up her dress and humiliated her. Curious...

I'm not sure I've read a book like this. It kind of reminded me of the idea of The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (I haven't read that one, but the IDEA of it), with the factory, the unsanitary conditions, the life in cities, etc. Not necessarily the meatpacking, though the slaughter house of the factory is pretty gruesome.

That's just it though - the setting of this book is so well-constructed. It seems like this book is set in a time period similar to the early 1900s. Obviously this book is fantasy, with the two different races of people (Itanyai and Noor). I LOVE how well the author creates the setting and builds the world. The poorness of the Noor, how even the factory doctor and his daughter are overwhelmed with debt, the horrible, disgusting underboss, Wen's fear of being taken advantage of... everything that makes up the setting of this book is so vivid and well-described. I kept thinking as I was reading, dang, this lady sure knows how to construct a world, a setting, a story.

The story is really well-crafted as well. It's not just about Wen and her fear of Mugo, the pedophile underboss. It's not just about the horrible way in which everyone treats the Noor, blames the Noor for things that they obviously can't control (like sickness, or impoverishment). It's not just about figuring out the secret of the Ghost. It's not just about Wen and Melik and their growing feelings... it's all of those things. There is so much going on in this book. The world of the factory is complicated. The lore of the Ghost is complicated. It seems like everything is complicated and not given without a fight.

Wen is such a likable heroine. She is intelligent, and not just in terms of medicine. She knows better to think that the Noor are all savages. She knows better than to walk right up to them and expect to be friends with them, but she doesn't treat them like they are dirt beneath her feet. While she feels guilt for a wish to the Ghost that backfired and hurt the Noor boy, she always felt bad for the Noor. I love that she gave the Noor (and Melik) a chance, from the beginning.

I LOVE Melik. We know that he is the silent, unofficial official leader of the Noor, even though he is young. He is well-built, strong, tall, and able to speak the Itanyai language (and therefore, translate into the Noor language). He is quiet and observant, clever and contemplative. He knows how and when to fight his battles, and when to step aside or back away. He and the Noor are never broken, their spirit always strong and defiant, despite the harsh conditions of the factory, the treatment of the underboss and guards, and the injustices handed to them left and right.

The Ghost is an interesting part to the story. Not only does he prove to Wen that he exists, but he does it in a brutal and saddening way. I love the slow, progressive way in which Fine introduces the Ghost to the story, and then bit by bit, the Ghost himself. The Ghost is so strange, and all of his... companions. I LOVE Fine's take on the Ghost. She made him similar to the Phantom, but so very different.

That being said, this book isn't a retelling (though I marked it as such). It's based on The Phantom of the Opera, but I wouldn't say it's a retelling. The role of the Ghost is different - he doesn't try to make Wen marry him. He DOES want her to stay with him. He worked hard to make a place for Wen in his life... but like the Phantom, he messed up badly. You'll have to read this book to figure out what the Ghost does. I love how Fine twists the story to her own measure.

The romance is sweet and painful and bittersweet and beautiful. Wen and Melik work so hard for each other, though it doesn't seem like it. Wen buys medicine for the Noor, and shows them so must kindness, but she's always thinking of Melik. Melik guards her from the Noor (not they are going to attack her or anything - but he keeps her name in a good light among them), as well as from the guards and Mugo. The two of them are so brokenly perfect for each other, and they fight to find their way to each other. There is no love triangle in this book, though I was legitimately afraid for one. We know the Ghost cares greatly for Wen, but Wen's heart belongs to Melik. She cares about the Ghost very much though, and I really respect this.

The ending is crushing, in so many ways - good and bad and wonderful. It's so fitting, and feels really *right*, despite having a touch of bitterness. If this book weren't part of a series, then I might have been a little saddened by the ending, because that couldn't be it, could it!? But there is another book to follow. The ending of this particular book is excellent, knowing that there is a sequel. And that, my friends, is how being a part of a series versus being a standalone novel can change your perception of a book's ending.

Overall, I'm really pleased with this book. Going into the book, I didn't really know what to expect. I did not expect a novel set in a harsh factory, a poor world, a terrible society. I loved this book! I know others have had mixed feelings, saying that they couldn't get into the novel, or it didn't grab them, but this one worked for me. I love Fine's books!

What I Did Not Like:

Hmmm, I don't think I have much to say here. I know, I only gave this book four stars, but I have nothing to say about what I did not like. I'm really happy with this book, and so glad I had the chance to read it! But it's a four-star read from me. And there is nothing wrong with that!

Would I Recommend It:

Yes! I would recommend this book to fantasy lovers, historical fiction lovers (though this book is technically not historical fiction), and mystery lovers. This book has a solid mystery foundation to it, though I didn't really mention that in the previous sections of my review. Basically... I would recommend any of Sarah Fine's books (this one, Sanctum, Fractured, Scan).


4 stars. It's official (if it wasn't already) - I am hooked on Sarah Fine's books! This is my fourth novel of hers read - and I am four for four! Bring on the third Guards of the Shadowlands book, Burn, Marked, and the sequel to this book!
Profile Image for Heidi.
1,395 reviews153 followers
July 31, 2014
Five stars: A brilliant retelling of The Phantom of the Opera.

Wen tucks her head down and scurries to the depot. The Noor are arriving today, the latest recruits to work the killing floors of the slaughterhouse where Wen now lives with her father who is the physician. Wen is curious about the Noor as she has been told her whole life that they are dangerous barbarians. Yet when they disembark, they don't seem barbaric. A tall, skinny young man with rust colored hair catches Wen's eye. Wen has never seen hair that color before, and in his eyes, spark with intelligence. Later after a humiliating encounter with one of the Noor in the cafeteria, shame and anger drive Wen to make a wish to the factory ghost, but Wen doesn't expect much to happen since she doesn't believe in ghosts. However, Wen is soon to learn that perhaps everything she knows regarding ghosts and the Noor is wrong. Wen quickly finds herself in a deadly fight for what is right, with many lives in the balance. Can Wen escape the horror of the slaughterhouse?
What I Liked:
*Gritty, beautiful and stunning are words that come to mind when trying to describe this novel. I wasn't sure what to expect going into Of Metal and Wishes, when I read the blurb saying this book was a blend of The Phantom of the Opera and The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. Past experience has taught me that more often than not, these comparisons are shaky at best. That is not the case with this book. It is indeed a imaginative and exciting blend of both novels. You have the mysterious elements of Phantom in the ghost that supposedly haunts the slaughterhouse combined with the horrible conditions the workers in the slaughterhouse endure which is right out of The Jungle. Having read both novels, I could see how Fine masterfully took elements from both novels and reimagined them into something fresh and original that completely captured my heart and imagination.
*I know with Ms. Fine's work from previous experience (Guards of the Shadowland) that she excels at world building. Ms. Fine delivers another stunning world in this one. She captures the horror and dire circumstances of the slaughterhouse workers. Forced to work in foul conditions for unfair wages, toiling away day after day, never getting ahead, instead falling further and further into debt. The only hope many have are the fervent wishes they leave along with small offerings to the ghost in hopes that he might grant their wish. Yet, amidst all the gore and bleakness of the slaughterhouse, a young girl dares to question long held prejudices and in doing so, she finds a tenuous chance at love which shines brightly in the darkness. Then in the depths of the factory, a whole other world awaits. One built in metal and mechanics by one who was lost. Well done Ms. Fine!
*Wen is a heroine I truly admired. She is newly transplanted to the slaughterhouse, accompanying her father who is the doctor. She left behind the small cottage, the only home she ever knew, locking the doors and with them the memories of her dead mother. Her new life is one of endless labor and debt. Wen refuses to wallow in her grief, though, she pulls herself up and throws herself into her new life by assisting her father and learning all she can about medicine. She is caring and compassionate, and she makes tremendous sacrifices in order to assist others in great need. I loved how she quickly learned to set aside prejudices and see the Noor for who they were. Wen is brave, compassionate and determined. I loved her. She isn't without her flaws, though, and I liked seeing her make mistakes. I especially liked the difficulties she had with her relationship with her father. All in all, Wen comes across as genuine.
*Melik, the red headed Noor, is the perfect romantic interest. He is also kind and caring and willing to make great sacrifices to protect the people he cares about. He works tirelessly, but he refuses to let the conditions break him. He is fierce, proud and compassionate. I couldn't help but to fall in love with him.
*The romance is everything you hope for in YA but rarely get. It is slow burning, genuine and built on friendship. It takes its sweet time building, and when it blossoms it is lovely and beautiful.
*I can't write a review without addressing the ghost. I liked how the ghost kept my emotions in a tangle. He is capable of great good or evil, and often resorts to violence as a means to deliver an act of kindness. On one page, I felt sympathetic toward him and on another, angry. He is good and evil personified. I loved this tragically flawed character and I am interested to see where he will go from here.
*The overall pace is quick and enthralling. Once I picked this one up, I couldn't put it down. I wanted more and more. There is never a dull moment in this one since it never lets up. The end left me breathless and agonizing for more. I was thinking this was a stand alone, but the end is open to many new possibilities, and I just learned there will be a sequel. I can't wait!
And The Not So Much:
*While I thought the world building was excellent, my one hesitation was that it comes across early on as a novel set in the early twentieth century with rather primitive methods used in the slaughterhouse, but then later, the reader encounters strange, complex mechanical/robotic creations. There is a small discussion on a war and a government that utilizes highly advanced machinery, but there is very little to glean on the world beyond the slaughterhouse and the small surrounding village. I was curious to learn more about the outside world and about the government. I have a feeling this will be addressed in the second book.
*This isn't a book for those who are faint at heart. There is violence and gore, and plenty of disturbing scenes when it comes to the work in the slaughterhouse. If you have read The Jungle, you will know what to expect. It is tragic, haunting, dark and gritty.
*I was itching to know more about Wen and her relationship with her mother. Even though it is only briefly mentioned, it plays a big role in the novel. I kept expecting for flashbacks in order see the relationship. I was disappointed that there wasn't more as I thought a bit of the emotional impact I should have felt when Wen had to let go of her mother a piece at a time was missed because I didn't have more peeks at Wen's past with her mother.
*The ending is sweet and brutal as it left me hungering for more. I need the sequel now!

Of Metal and Wishes is a book that sucked me in and held me captive until the final pages. Ms. Fine is a master at creating memorable worlds and genuine characters. This is poignant, haunting and beautiful story set in a bleak and dire world which makes the hopeful moments shine even more brightly. I cannot recommend this one enough. It is truly an astonishing book that you should read.

Favorite Quotations:
"There's nothing wrong with being scared. It only means something important is at stake."

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.

Posted@Rainy Day Ramblings.

Profile Image for Alexandra Christo.
Author 9 books4,711 followers
January 1, 2022
In the most basic terms, this is a Phantom of the Opera re-telling, but it stands on its own in a way that allows the original story, and everything you may have known about it, to fade into the background while Fine weaves her own world. One that is utterly compelling.

The story has an air of dystopia, the old mixed with the new, and hints of Asian culture circling through the chapters. It's non-specific and the reader is left to determine when and where, exactly, the story takes place, which adds to the surreal nature of the tale and is a really effective way of telling such a whimsical story.

Wen was so different from any character I've read about before. She's a lot more internal – a quiet, thoughtful protagonist who says so much without ever needing to say it. That's not to say she wasn't strong, because she was. Thoughtful, does not mean weak and Wen showed that by remaining brave in the face of all the dangers around her.

The ghost was a surprisingly disturbing character, in a different way than I anticipated. He had a warped view of justice, and thought the horrific acts he committed were okay if it meant protecting Wen. It was a chilling and heartbreaking devotion, coated in obsession and melancholy.

Another thing worth a mention, is that the ghost has free-reign of the factory and with years spent in solitude, he's had time to Frankenstein some pretty creepy pets. His mechanical spiders, for one, were brutal and had a fantastic steam-punk element that was more than welcome in this gorgeously indecisive world.

And as if a eerie wish-granting ghost wasn't enough, there's the Romeo-Juliet aspect. Wen and her people are Itanyai, and so when the brutal and barbaric Noor are hired to work at the factories, tensions splinter. After Wen's wish is granted, leaving a Noor being seriously injured, she devotes herself to being compassionate to them. She takes care of them, stands up for them, and tries her best to make sure they're treated as equals.

This touches the Noor's resolute leader, Melik. He watches with wonder as Wen tends to his sick comrades and shows them kindness the Itanyai never bother to extend. He was rough, yet sweet, and a completely fearless leader who wanted nothing more than to protect his people. And, let me tell you, every time Melik utters the words 'Wen always has medicine' your heart will die a thousand deaths.

Melik and Wen's relationship was tender, intense and with that oh-so-forbidden tang there wasn't much I couldn't love. Their flame was slow-burning and then, all at once, a rapid fire. It was marvellous. The romance spurred the story on and amid all the injustice and death, it was beautiful to see something so pure come to life.

This re-imagining is enigmatic and vividly beautiful. It's a story that manages to be haunting; sending a creep through your veins, and gorgeously romantic; sending a smile to your lips. From the fiercely kind Wen, to the dauntless Melik, to the forlorn ghost, each character captured me completely and left me with an aching as I turned that last page.

Favourite quote:
"There's nothing wrong with being scared. It only means something important is at stake."
Profile Image for nick (the infinite limits of love).
2,119 reviews1,326 followers
July 25, 2014

I read Of Metal and Wishes together with Sam over at Realm of Fiction one weekend and I was entirely smitten throughout. I tried to read the book as excruciatingly slow as possible, but it had such a hold over me that I absolutely couldn't not read it faster. While I was out doing my daily chores, my thoughts would easily wander to Of Metal and Wishes and even now, two weeks after I finished the book, I'm still reeling from the aftermath of reading a brilliant book.

Sarah Fine knows how to craft well-fleshed out characters and the characters in Of Metal and Wishes were simply put, gorgeous. Wen, our protagonist, was absolutely brilliant. I loved her from the very first instance I met her and as I got to know her over the course of the book, I fell even more in love with her personality. She was the kind of main character that I wish every main character was like : strong, driven and level-headed. She began the book as someone who was blind to the cruelty of the society around her, but once the blindfold around her eyes started to lift off, she began to make amends to her treatment of the Noor, laborers hired by her people. Wen was also an aspiring doctor, which automatically meant she had a kind and nurturing soul. Melik, her love interest and a Noor, was also amazing. He was also a character that was effortless to become attached to. He was kind, loving, but definitely rough around the edges. He was somewhat of a leader to the Noor who came with him and you could tell that he was completely devoted to them. Whenever something would happen to either of them, he would be ridden with guilt. Then you have Ghost, a Phantom of Opera-esque character, who was entirely fascinating. I can't really say much about him, but he was enigmatic, interesting and you can't help but feel all kinds of emotions towards him. You need to read the book in order to experience his character and go through all these emotions.

Of Metal and Wishes had an intriguing setting that was initially hard to grasp because it's a world that I had never come across, with it's almost historical background with elements of Asian history and a slaughter factory setting to it, but once the pieces started to come together, it was riveting. The romance in Of Metal and Wishes was also tactfully written. It was beautifully paced and it was a slow burn romance that made me feel along with the characters. The tension between Wen and Melik was so palpable and intense, especially with the forbidden element it had. I found myself rooting for these two characters and I hoping for them to get the happily ever after they deserved. Some of you may be worried about a love triangle, but I assure you that there's absolutely no reason to be worried about that. Sarah Fine is also a masterful writer. She weaved together all these gorgeous words and threaded them into an even more gorgeous story line that reeled and hooked me in from the very first page. I honestly don't think there was anything I remotely disliked about this book. It was the perfect book for me and I will continue to write everything this author writes, even if she writes a boring paper. She just has a way with words which makes it easy to immerse myself into her story. Even her description of the dresses that Wen wore was so vivid. She deserves all the hype for being such a cinematic author.

Of Metal and Wishes is a book I want everyone to read. It was original and beautifully written and if you're going to skip out on this one, you're going to miss a story that would most likely have amazed you. If you haven't read anything by Sarah Fine, change that immediately because she's a force in the YA community.
Profile Image for Jo.
1,097 reviews59 followers
October 16, 2015
Good the second time around! I love Sarah Fine's writing.
July 23-26, 2014
4.5 stars
So, so good! It was the perfect blend of plot, characterization and beautiful writing. Oh, and did I mention that it was based loosely on The Phantom of the Opera? Anything to do with Phantom is a must read in my book, and I am so glad that this one lived up to my expectations. I cannot wait to read the sequel to this one! I want to see more of this world. Sarah Fine did a great job of creating a world within a world with the Slaughterhouse. I want Wen to explore more of her world though. I want more history of the two races - why they hate one another so much, how the Noor were conquered and why.

I read some reviews that criticized the book for using the threat of rape. My only problem is that it seemed that all of the men (with the exception of Melik and Sinan) were just looking for any excuse to rape. This is not a fair representation of men. I would have liked to see some more men step up and say that Mugo's treatment of women was despicable. I understand why the workers could not, but at least have some characters object in a conversation. Even the women seem to accept that this is their lot.

I feel that Wen was a strong character. She had the courage to reach out to the Noor and accept them. I felt her remorse at what she feels was her fault was a great display of character, and her forgiveness showed strength.

I wish I had the second book because I would absolutely read it right now - publication date notwithstanding. This is a great read for fans of fantasy and classical story re-tellings.
Profile Image for rin.
411 reviews491 followers
February 14, 2016
I've been thinking about the book and now I'm reducing my final mark to 2 stars.

Well, first of all, I understood that I didn't really like anything about this book. Wen is one of the most bland female MCs ever, the romance is dull and boring, there is barely a likable character, world building is nonexistent, first-person POV ruins the book, the writing is weird and it has lots of disturbing things.
I think the book is either a hit or miss and it's obviously a miss with me. I hated all the rape culture stuff going on here (with a mix of some racism, slut shaming, victim blaming, etc). I perfectly understand that it was used to show how horrible and miserable Wen's life at the factory is but JESUS CHRIST it was so hard to read. Almost every chapter had people teaching Wen how to behave and how to dress not to be raped OR people actually trying to rape Wen OR people sexually harassing Wen OR people treating Wen like slut OR justifying the rapist stuff OR OR OR. That was just too much. It's a real problem and it should be discussed, but it shouldn't be so heavily used.
I also hated how there was almost none world building. Everything was narrowed to the slaughterhouse Wen lived and worked in (and I can get why), but we should've had more glimpse at the real world! It will be resolved in the next book (I think), but I'm not reading this series further.
Also I've noticed some racist stuff, but it may be me seeing things, and I'm totally not sure, so I'm not discussing it hahaha.

Total miss.
Profile Image for Book Mitch.
670 reviews17 followers
August 24, 2015
Loved it! Light on the steampunk, just right on the ghost story, great job on the triangle, nice asian flair to Phantom! I have been 'next in line' for the second book for what feels like years. Can't wait to read it. Hope it's as good as this one!
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