The Wishing Game by Meg Shaffer

Literary Loop

Lucy Hart is a 26-year-old kindergarten teacher’s assistant, desperate to adopt her orphaned former student, Christopher Lamb. Unfortunately, she lacks the funds. When she wins a chance to compete in a game devised by reclusive children’s book author Jack Masterson, she hopes the competition will be the answer to her problems.

Jack has finally written the next installment in his Clock Island series, and he decides whoever wins his competition can do whatever they like with the only copy of his book. Four competitors descend on the eponymous Clock Island — all of them former runaways who had gone to Jack’s island as children seeking reprieve from less-than-idyllic circumstances, and all of whom, in adulthood, have problems that only Jack can solve.

His game starts off as a series of riddles (ones that readers will enjoy solving alongside the competitors) but quickly turns into something deeper as Jack, acting in the role of the Mastermind from his books, makes the competitors confront their traumas.

“Our list of must-read fiction books wouldn’t be complete without this novel that reminds readers of the power books hold between their pages,” says Reader’s Digest.

“Shaffer blends tragedy and triumph in a whimsical and gratifying debut about what makes a family. This is wish fulfillment in the best way,” says Publishers Weekly.