Narrator: Michael Lesley
Length: 18 hours, 27 minutes
After losing his mentor and almost losing his beloved to the dark wizard Myrin, Sam of Wilds retreated to the dark woods to study under the guidance of the Great White dragon. Sam left behind so many of those he loved almost a year ago and walked into the woods, and now that he is finally returning, he knows much has changed while he was gone. With Sam away, Myrin has taken over, destroying the City of Lockes and most of Verania, taking the king prisoner, and enslaving many others. Everything that they feared seems to have come to pass, and Sam feels guilty knowing he was gone while his people suffered, even if leaving was necessary.
There are some bright spots, however. A resistance has formed, led by Ryan and Prince Justin. No one has given up hope, and they are still fighting the dark wizards. Even more surprising, the animosity towards Sam by many people seems to have faded, and he is being welcomed back with open arms. That is not to say that Ryan, Tiggy, Gary, and his parents are willing to let the fact that he left pass without mention. But the tide definitely seems to be turning.
But after consuming Morgan’s magic, Myrin is even stronger than before, and the darks have more power than ever. Defeating them will not be easy, but this is what Sam has been working toward all his life. With the help of five dragons, a trusty unicorn, a half giant, a stubborn prince, an old wizard, and the dreamiest knight of all, Sam is ready to take on the battle of his life and save Verania before it is too late.
A Wish Upon the Stars is the culmination of the Tales from Verania series and oh what a ride it has been. I am lucky enough to read a lot of books in this job, and I have read so many wonderful things, but there are some books and series that just seem to transcend the others and this series is one of them. Here Klune manages to do something that not many authors can achieve, and that is combine side-splitting, laugh out loud humor with a story that can also make you cry, grieve, cheer, and feel the most intense of emotions. With this final book of the series, Klune brings this epic saga to an end just perfectly, with humor, excitement, and so much heart.
For all the silliness, and at times over-the-top hijinks, at the core of these stories are the relationships. There is obviously the connection between Ryan and Sam, a couple I just adore in the way they just fit together. It is clear how intensely these guys feel about one another, how strong a connection they have forged. Here we see even more clearly how Ryan grounds Sam, both as his cornerstone and his partner. We also have the trio of Sam, Gary, and Tiggy. When Sam returns, his best friends are angry that he left them behind, but we can see how much they all care for each other. Yes, they are crazy and even absurd at times, but there is an underlying sweetness to their interactions, the way they unconditionally love on another. And of course, there is Sam’s connection with his mentor Morgan, a man whose death crushed Sam, and he is still dealing with the repercussions.
What I particularly enjoyed here are two other relationships, ones that don’t get as much focus, but are so pivotal, and in some ways, my favorites. First is Sam and Randall. I noted in the last book, The Consumption of Magic, how much I enjoyed their connection and we can see it here as well. The men started out the series at odds and Sam felt constantly judged by Randall and he acted out in return. But these last two books, we can see how much Randall truly cares for Sam and how much of a connection they have with each other, especially now that Morgan is gone. And what has turned out to be one of my favorite relationships is Sam and Justin. Once again, these guys are sort of enemies turned friends and I just loved the quiet moments where we can see how much they mean to each other, even as Justin rolls his eyes and denies it.
And of course, there are so many other key relationships here as that is what really is the foundation of this series. Seeing how these people all love and care for each other, how they bond together and risk their lives to protect one another and fight the evil that is among them is one of the key elements of the books. As exciting and funny and crazy as this story is, without these incredible relationships, the story would not be nearly as rich as it is.
Of course, no review of this story or this series would be complete without mentioning Michael Lesley, the fabulous narrator. Truly, I think Lesley’s narration of this series is one of the premiere audio narrations out there and I feel lucky to have had a chance to experience this books in audio. Lesley’s performance is like listening to a one-man play; he gets the voices just right and really embodies each of the characters. It amazes me how creative and clever his depiction of these folks is, especially with so many characters to portray. What is even more impressive is how Lesley matches Klune’s tone so perfectly; he is able to capture the humor right along side the more poignant moments. I really think the audio here is a crowning achievement and I would encourage everyone to consider listening.
So as sad as I am to see this series come to an end, it came together just exactly as I would want. Klune has pulled together all the elements from the series and given us a great resolution for our merry gang. Just as it starts, we end with humor and with heart, and I have been totally captivated by this series.
P.S. If you want to give yourself a giggle, listen to Lesley read the credits at the very end where he acknowledges all the sound effects he uses in the audio. I loved listening to him amuse himself up as he reads!
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.