"The Last Wish" is a collection of stories about Geralt Rivia, the Witcher, whose occupation is to deal with monsters. This is a frame story in which other stories are the memories that the protagonist recalls as he recovers from a nearly fatal wound.
Readers who enjoy dark fantasy, fables, and fairy tales will love this book. The author retells some well-known fairy tales with ingeunity, such as "Beauty and the Beast" , "Sleeping Beauty," "Rapunzel", and "Snow White", and he also offers unique twists on ancient Eastern European legends such as the strigoi and rusalka, jinn, and even the Fair Folk, Fae or Elves. Some stories are pretty scary, and some are fairly humorous. Some have a little of both. All are written with loving care, with emotional depth, and plenty of action scenes.
This was a nice little short story about a cursed merman shifter and a prince. It did a good job with the world building, but unfortunately it lacked in the romance department.
I liked the description of Seree's family, his magical knives, as well as the sea-influenced dialogues:
"The reason he has no interest in sanding me-"
"Language!" Seree snapped.
But I missed some relationship development. The MCs where hardly together on-page. The ending was also very abrupt.
But if Megan Derr decides one day to turn this into a full novel, I would definitely read it.
I can't put my finger on it, but this one wasn't a five star read for me. I think part of it's that I'm so sick of the Dark Man storyline. I just want him to be dealt with so we can move on. It was cute, how the Fables are forming a Team of heroes to fight the Dark Man, but it wasn't a strong enough concept to hang the story on. Also I didn't find the leads as compelling as Snow and Bigby are. I do like the twist with Fran Tottenkinder, but she's less present in this book as well. I just wasn't feeling this like I have past books. It's still really good, just not as good.
I can freely admit that I was just happy to have more Bigby and Snow, and that's a huge part of my generous rating. But this was genuinely good. It's very dark and noir. There is some bad language and sexual situations, and the killer is really depraved. Convincing as a murder mystery set in Fabletown can be. The examination of class distinctions and the vulnerabilities of certain groups in society is prescient and delivered in a way that is far from preachy.
I liked the flashback to when Bigby first goes 'straight' and ends up on a little village called Salem during a very important time of history. Sturges interjects content from The Crucible, including John Proctor, and gives a plausible look into the situation and someone who might have helped engineer the situation. Ichabod Crane is the temporary acting mayor. A nastier little bureaucrat couldn't be possible. His hands are dirty since way back. Unfortunately, Bigby has to take orders from him. Bigby's only friend and secret love Snow expects him to play nice, when 'nice' isn't really his thing, and certainly not 'politics'.
I love how this series takes popular and lesser-known fairy tales and integrates them into an ongoing story. The sad tale of Donkeyskin takes on an even deeper poignancy in this story when it's related to a missing persons case that Bigby takes a personal interest in. There's even Mister Toad from The Wind in the Willows and so involved in the mystery.
I am Team Snow/Bigby for reals, and so even though this is a prequel and it's not written as a romance, I can see the spark and the chemistry between them from a mile away. But also that they respect each other. Frankly, Snow seems more open and friendly with Bigby than she did in the first Fables episode, Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile.
I'm absolutely thrilled my library had this, and I'm hoping they continue to get it! I should try to get a copy of the video game.
Overall rating: 4.5/5.0 stars.