Crispell, Susan Bishop. 2016. The Secret Ingredient of Wishes. New York, NY: Thomas Dunne Books, a division of Macmillan Publishers.
Who can resist a novel where secrets are baked into pies and wishes can some true (with unpredictable results, natch)! Susan Bishop Crispell’s debut novel is hard to resist, indeed.
Rachel Monroe has been given an unusual gift (or is it a curse?): she can grant wishes. When she wishes for her annoying little brother to get lost, she discovers the devastating consequences of her ability. Unable to convince her parents that their other child ever existed, and scaring them with her insistence, she experiences years of therapy and commitment to a mental facility through her teen years.
Driven to resist reading the little pieces of paper containing random people’s wishes which float around her constantly, she lives a lonely life. When she accidentally grants an unintended wish that could hurt her best friend’s family, she impulsively packs her bags and leaves town, ending up in a place called Nowhere. There she meets a woman who has the ability to bake secrets into pies and embarks on a new life that provides her a new home, new friends, a new love and the possibility for redemption.
I’ve always been drawn to books with elements of magical realism, perhaps because I remember wanting to magically change things about my own life as a child. Ms. Crispell has created wonderfully engaging and wounded characters that are fully realized and realistic in their emotions, even if their magical abilities are of the fantastical bent. Readers who enjoy books by Sarah Addison Allen and Cathy Lamb should find this book irresistible and will find themselves suspiciously hungry for a piece of pie……