Years ago, a reclusive mega-bestselling children’s author quit writing under mysterious circumstances. Suddenly he resurfaces with a brand-new book and a one-of-a-kind competition, offering a prize that will change the winner’s life in this absorbing and whimsical novel.
“Clever, dark, and hopeful . . . a love letter to reading and the power that childhood stories have over us long after we’ve grown up.”—V. E. Schwab, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
A WASHINGTON POST AND SHE READS BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
Make a wish. . . .
Lucy Hart knows better than anyone what it’s like to grow up without parents who loved her. In a childhood marked by neglect and loneliness, Lucy found her solace in books, namely the Clock Island series by Jack Masterson. Now a twenty-six-year-old teacher’s aide, she is able to share her love of reading with bright, young students, especially seven-year-old Christopher Lamb, who was left orphaned after the tragic death of his parents. Lucy would give anything to adopt Christopher, but even the idea of becoming a family seems like an impossible dream without proper funds and stability.
But be careful what you wish for. . . .
Just when Lucy is about to give up, Jack Masterson announces he’s finally written a new book. Even better, he’s holding a contest at his home on the real Clock Island, and Lucy is one of the four lucky contestants chosen to compete to win the one and only copy.
For Lucy, the chance of winning the most sought-after book in the world means everything to her and Christopher. But first she must contend with ruthless book collectors, wily opponents, and the distractingly handsome (and grumpy) Hugo Reese, the illustrator of the Clock Island books. Meanwhile, Jack “the Mastermind” Masterson is plotting the ultimate twist ending that could change all their lives forever.
. . . You might just get it.
Shaffer blends tragedy and triumph in a whimsical and gratifying debut romance about what makes a family. At 13, Lucy Hart ran away from home to escape neglectful parents, wishing instead to live with Jack Masterson—the bestselling author of her favorite children's books, the Clock Island series—on the real-life counterpart to Clock Island. That dream didn't pan out. Now, 13 years later, she's a kindergarten teacher's aide desperate to adopt seven-year-old Christopher Lamb, an orphaned former student of hers, but she needs more money and greater stability in order to make it happen. Hugo Reese, Jack's illustrator and surrogate son, is concerned when Jack abruptly comes out of a six-year retirement to invite Lucy and three other former runaways and superfans to Clock Island, where they'll compete for the only copy of a brand new Clock Island book. Jack puts the contestants through a series of challenges and riddles designed to mimic the adventures in his books, and along the way, readers will come to root for all four to succeed—and for Hugo and Lucy to fall in love. Shaffer doesn't shy away from the darkness in her characters' backstories even as she delivers childlike wonder in spades. This is wish fulfilment in the best way.
This is a first-rate story, told with first-rate storytelling. It binds failure, hope, kindness, estrangement, whimsy, abandonment, loss, and renewal with sharks. Lots of sharks. Oh, and ravens.
First let me say, I searched for the Clock Island Adventure books, to purchase for my Grands, just in case they did exist. Loved this story! Deeply moving in places, yet light and fun throughout. “When you gotta scream, you gotta scream.”. I sincerely hope all those who truly need a wish, get that wish. Excellently done.