And Then I Read: WISHING SEASON by Esther M. Friesner

WishingSeasonCover and interior illustrations © Frank Kelly Freas

Khalid is attending Genie school in the mysterious land of the Genies, and is very skilled in magic, but not so much in understanding the humans he will need to deal with when granting wishes. Khalid is admired by his classmate, the lovely Tamar, and envied by another classmate, Gamal, who covets the attention of Tamar, which Khalid doesn’t seem to notice. Khalid is sure he knows everything he needs to know about being a Genie, and their teacher Ishmael decides to give him a trial run in a magic lamp to see how things go. Unfortunately for Khalid, they can’t possibly go worse. When he emerges from the magic lamp in the hands of his new master, Haroun, he forgets to tell him a crucial rule: you can’t use one of your three wishes to get more wishes. When Haroun asks for unlimited wishes, Khalid finds he is bound to grant that wish, essentially making him a permanent slave to Haroun’s every greedy thought and desire.

When Khalid doesn’t return to class as expected, Tamar goes out to help him, but finds that challenging. Meanwhile, Gamar is also on hand to make Khalid’s life as difficult as possible. New allies like a very smart alley cat are some help, but Khalid is so mired in trouble, it seems he’ll never get out. Before long the ruling council of Genies is involved in this mess, and Gamal is upping his evil plans, and things go from bad to worse.

This is a fun book, and the art by Kelly Freas is a delightful bonus. Friesner’s writing is light and humorous, but her characters are appealing and her plot reasonably believable (at least while you’re reading). It is a bit hard to get one’s head into the Arabian Nights world the book takes place in, since the real world now occupying that space is so different, but once you do, the story carries you along on a nice magic carpet ride.

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