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A Wish in the Dark

4.42  ·  Rating details ·  1,850 ratings  ·  464 reviews
A boy on the run. A girl determined to find him.

All light in Chattana is created by one man — the Governor, who appeared after the Great Fire to bring peace and order to the city. For Pong, who was born in Namwon Prison, the magical lights represent freedom, and he dreams of the day he will be able to walk among them. But when Pong escapes from prison, he realizes that the
ebook, 384 pages
Published March 24th 2020 by Candlewick Press
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Lillian I am currently reading A Wish in the Dark and have previously read Les Mis. I have seen Jan Val Jean in the character Pong, Inspector Javer is a girl …moreI am currently reading A Wish in the Dark and have previously read Les Mis. I have seen Jan Val Jean in the character Pong, Inspector Javer is a girl named Nok, Bishop Myriel is a monk named Father Cham. A baby was just introduced and I am assuming she is Cosette. (less)

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Average rating 4.42  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,850 ratings  ·  464 reviews

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may ➹
4.5 stars

A Wish in the Dark is a middle grade fantasy that follows two children: Pong, a boy who escapes the prison he was born in, and Nok, the prison warden’s daughter who has become a warrior. As Nok tries to track him down, Pong discovers how the rich of Chattana thrive while the poor struggle, and he and his friend Somkit band together to bring justice.

I’ve said before that I felt like this book was flawless, and I still stand by it. Immediately after I finished it, I remember smiling broad
Sep 04, 2020 marked it as to-read
Recommended to Melanie by: may ➹
this sounds amazing and the ebook is only 99 cents on amazon US! (9/4/2020)

Blog | Instagram | Youtube | Ko-fi | Spotify | Twitch
May 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully told story about privilege and humility with a middle grade Les Misérables twist.

Pong was born in a prison and therefore automatically condemned behind bars. Finding his life unfair, he manages to escape prison and start a new life elsewhere. However, the consequences of his escape has been felt by Nok's family. She is the daughter of a prison warden who is being blamed for Pong's escape. Desperate to restore her family name, Nok makes it her mission to find Pong and put him back beh
Erin Kelly
Apr 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I love everything about this book. Seriously, everything.
chloe ♡
i received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. all opinions below are my own.

"you can't run away from darkness," pong whispered. "it's everywhere. the only way to see through it is to shine a light."

the french novel les misérables is famous for exploring the topics of poverty, wealth disparity and justice, and these are all handled equally well in a wish in the dark, which has been dubbed “a retelling of les misérables set in a thai-inspired world”.

in the book, social st
hi I loved this omg, I don't read a lot of middle grade but this book makes me want to pick up more, because it was just so delightful. it balanced a lot of social commentary and big themes with the whimsical hopefulness of middle grade and I'm just AHHH warm fuzzy feels ...more
Camille Oquendo
Mar 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book has been on my radar for over a year, so to be fortunate enough to receive an ARC, I was beyond happy to get a chance to read it early. Upon finishing it, I can definitely say it's become one of my favorite reads of 2020 so far.

Cleverly written, absorbing. I enjoyed the fact that AWITD wasn't info dumpy which I feel a lot of fantasy books fall victim to; the flow of the story felt very easygoing. I'm amazed by how many things Soontornvat's done well with this book-- her use of sym
Sep 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
A middle grade fantasy set in Thailand, following a common trope of rich/privileged versus the downtrodden/poor. Set in the divided city of Chattana, which is under the iron rule of the Governor, who has brought peace by banning the fires that almost destroyed the city and selling magical lights. The protagonist Pong, lives in a prison, because his mother was incarcerated. He is a strange boy, listening to the world around him, including mangoes ripening so that he and his BFF, Somkit, can get t ...more
ash ♡
ahhhhh this was so beautiful!! the characters had such great growth and the themes were actually PERFECT. i also loved the Thai rep!! 10/10 recommend.

4.5 stars
Jenna (Falling Letters)
Mar 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade, arc, 2020
Review originally published 27 March 2020 at Falling Letters. I received a free copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Content warnings:(view spoiler)

Of all the books I’ve read this year, A Wish in the Dark feels most keenly relevant to today’s world. (…I mean that in a broad sense, not a COVID-19 sense). Soontornvat has penned a moving story about the importance of believing in positive change and standing
full recommendation now up on my blog.

@ skye & may i hope u are both happy now because i’m crying into my pillow at 1 am
* I received a physical ARC of this book from its publisher in exchange for an honest review.

🌻 My links: Blog | Instagram | Twitter
Sep 06, 2020 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Romie by: may ➹
the way my heart needs this
May 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This story of Pong, of Nok, of a Thai-inspired fantasy city called Chattana completely captivated and carried me away. This book is an adventure with depth, a book about light that illuminates inequalities and moral quandaries, full of compelling characters to follow and feel for.

"You can't run away from's everywhere. The only way to see through it is to shine a light."
Livia Blackburne
This book was so magical and had so much heart. Usually, when I’m reading, I’m picking up on techniques that I love about the book, but here I just soaked in the themes of friendship, grace, forgiveness, redemption, and freedom. One of those books that just leave you feeling hopeful about the world.
Leonard Kim
Jul 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
Listened to audiobook at 1.2x. Combines elements of Les Mis, fantasy, and social issues. I do have a problem when books concerned with social issues lean heavily on a few individual characters who wield outsized influence on the course of events and are thus constantly and improbably thrown against each other. For example, it's fine to have the march, and have Pong, Nok, and Somkit all present for it, but I think it's a concession and weakness for all three to be such literally front-and-center ...more
Jan 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
ALL THE STARS!!! This is my favorite read of 2020 so far; in fact, it's been a VERY long time since I've loved a book as much as I loved A WISH IN THE DARK. Thank you to the author for sending an ARC to #bookportage for review.

I'm not going to try and review this book. Others can tell you how it's masterfully written, inspired by Les Miserables in a Thai-inspired world with a touch of magic. I've never read or seen Les Mis, I can't tell you how it compares, but I will tell you I'm convinced it w
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
It's the Governor who has created all the light in Chattana. Pong and his friend, Somkit, were born in prison, and they both eagerly look forward to the day when they will have freedom. It's the Governor Pong looks for as inspiration in the world. But then Pong actually meets the Governor and his hopes are dashed. An opportunity appears, and Pong can't wait; he escapes, making his way to a monastery. There he meets a true inspiration in the form of a monk, Father Cham. But the monk is growing ol ...more
Shaye Miller
Feb 08, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible, newbery
A Wish in the Dark was a Newbery medal nominee this year and I read this one with my ears through Audible. 🙂 The story focused on three main (young) characters (Pong, Somkit, and Nok) while balancing between opposites: light and dark, the rulers and the imprisoned, the rich and the poor, the young and the old, the granting of larger blessings or smaller blessings. I have to be honest, I was not familiar with Les Misérables, therefore everything in this story was pretty fresh for me. There seemed ...more
Laura Janette
Jul 14, 2020 rated it liked it
I didn’t realize until I finished reading, this is a creative take on Les Miserables. I don’t know why, but I struggled to get hooked. It was a good read, but I wanted to like it more than I did.
Dan Allbery
Jul 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
"Well, sometimes light shines on the worthy. But sometimes it just shines on the lucky ones. And sometimes . . .” He looked over his shoulder at the East Side, glittering like a rainbow across the river. “Sometimes good people get trapped in the dark."

As a school teacher in Thailand, I teach many Thai students. All students should be able to see themselves within the books they have access to and read. I especially appreciate Christina Soontornvat's writing not merely set in a Thai-inspired worl
Oct 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Such a heartwarming and beautiful book!
I had no idea this was a retelling of Les Miserables, and I am not sure if that’s a good thing, but I loved this book! It seemed so fitting for our political climate right now and is such a heartbreakingly beautiful tale of standing up for what’s right.
What a beautiful story.
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it

Middle grade fantasy?? is a genre that's usually a hit or miss for me. A wish in the dark is definitely a hit because it combined all the good elements of middle grade and fantasy and gave us a book that truly SLAPS.
A wish in the dark, set in a Thai-inspired fantasy world, is about a boy named Pong who grew up in a prison because of the crimes of his dead mom (wtf right?). This world he lives in is ruled by a Governor who is practically a walking talking torch or in other words he creates li
Dec 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes the sheer rightness of a book reminds me so overwhelmingly that people are mostly good, and that my faith in humanity is neither naïve nor misguided, that it inspires both a wave of universal love and a fierce sense of affection and gratitude toward the author for leaving such a gift where I could find it. A Wish in the Dark is like that. Soontornvat enspells us with exactly what we came for—a Les Miserables-inspired story in a Thai-inspired fantasy world—but if you’ve read other books ...more
Deva Fagan
May 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful and compelling adventure that grabbed my heart right from the first pages and didn’t let go. Set in a meticulously-detailed world full of sparkling luminaries and powerful magic only the wealthy can afford, this story doesn’t shy away from delving into questions of law and justice, poverty and inequality.
Nicole M. Hewitt
This review and many more can be found on my blog: Feed Your Fiction Addiction

This book absolutely blew me away! Right off the bat, I was hooked by the premise: a middle grade fantasy retelling of Les Miserables set in a Thai-inspired world. I mean, how cool is that? Now, I have to say that Les Mis the musical is an absolute all-time favorite of mine and I’ve seen it a bunch of times. Someday I will actually read the tome it was based on, but … I haven’t managed to get through it yet. All that i
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

At first I was skeptical of how A Wish in the Dark could pull off a Les Mis re-telling for middle grade audiences, but I had no reason to be. A Wish in the Dark tackles the same issues of privilege, justice, and corruption in thoughtful ways for middle grade audiences. It asks us the price of staying quiet, of being complicit in a system that is unfair. Retaining elements of Les
Kris Patrick
Feb 07, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Wish in the Dark has been marketed as for kids ages 8-12. And yeah, I know I know, those numbers are only numbers. It’s my opinion that elementary age readers would need a sophisticated toolbelt of reading comprehension strategies to enjoy. And I think Wish in the Dark would get lost in a middle school library. Yet another Newbery pick where I wonder whether we chose with adults or kids in mind?

As for the text following Les Miserables, I don’t know. When I saw Les Mis at Butler’s Clowes Hall
May 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, this is one of those books where when it's described to you, you have to do a double take. Middle grade novel set in a fantasy Thailand that's also a retelling of Les Miserables? It shouldn't work, but oh boy does it. The story is sweeping and gorgeous, the fantasy world is stunningly beautiful and the characters are so absolutely delightful and human they feel like real people. Nok and Pong are delightful foils of each other and even the side characters like Father Cham, Ampai and Somkit ...more
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Christina Soontornvat grew up behind the counter of her parents’ Thai restaurant in a small Texas town with her nose stuck in a book. She is very proud of both her Thai and her Texan roots, and makes regular trips to both Weatherford and Bangkok to see her beloved family members (and eat lots and lots of Thai food!). Christina is the author of the fantasy middle grade series, The Changelings, and ...more

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