cover image A Comb of Wishes

A Comb of Wishes

Lisa Stringfellow. Quill Tree, $16.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-06-304343-5

In her debut, a folkloric fantasy set in Caribbean-inspired island St. Rita, Stringfellow manifests magic strong enough to grant the wish of a grieving heart. Twelve-year-old artisan Kela Boxhill, who is Black, copes with her grief about her mother’s death by turning sea glass into jewelry. When Kela hears a hum in the wind one day that leads to a sinkhole in a protected (and off-limits) nature park, she finds a battered box that “breathed a strangeness she couldn’t shake,” and, inside, a comb that she believes—based on her mother’s stories of the island—could be magical. Mermaid Ophidia, the box’s owner, becomes enraged when the box is taken, knowing that its absence could lead to her death. But lore requires that Ophidia grant Kela a wish in exchange for the comb, posing a moral quandary that’s further complicated when the comb breaks. Stringfellow brings a fantastical approach to one character’s processing of grief as, with the support of secondary characters, Kela begins to truly navigate her pain while unearthing the stories and lore that are her heritage. Ages 8–12. Agent: Lindsay David Auld, Writers House. (Feb.)