A few months ago, I read ‘The Replacement’ by Patrick Redmond. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was quick to order another of his books…hence why ‘The Wishing Game’ ended up in my letterbox a few weeks ago.
I want to make it clear from the start, that although they both fall under the psychological thriller category, they are completely different. The Wishing Game requires you to have an open mind to the powers of evil, whereas The Replacement was an everyday dark thriller – that in my mind, is a story that is more likely to happen in real life.
That’s not to say I’m putting down The Wishing Game, I’m just highlighting that my mind is a little sceptical when it comes to the power of wishes and the devil.
The main story is a tale of Jonathan befriending a rebellious loner; Richard and dropping his group of friends (including his faithful best friend Nicholas) because that’s what Richard wants. At the beginning, Jonathan believes he’s becoming stronger because Richard teaches him to stand up to his bullies but unfortunately, as the tale unravels he realises he’s becoming weaker as Richard’s controlling instincts over him become too powerful. Jonathan eventually becomes scared of Richard, but because of Richard’s evilness he feels he can’t escape him and therefore continues to go along with Richard’s plans.
Whilst that story unravels, there are also plenty of side stories which touch on the teachers’ and headmaster’s dark secrets – a regretted affair, an unexplained suicide and a painful loss.
Richard is incredibly smart and observant. That’s pretty clear from how he doesn’t struggle in any lesson and the way he can sense when Jonathan begins to try and pull away. Or perhaps another example would be the note sent after a fleeting glance between the headmaster and his wife’s cousin was witnessed by Richard. And finally, how he begins to connect the dots between Mr Stewart and an unlikely suicide, from a photo and Jonathan’s thoughts.
So far…pretty standard stuff…you’re wondering why I thought it was far fetched? It turns out Richard’s controlling behaviour links directly to him being evil. The unfortunate accident that led to his stepmother and unborn sibling dying, can be linked back to his hatred of her and subsequent wishes made. The madness that takes over James (who had bullied Jonathan) which leads him to his death, links back to mind games that Richard played on multiple characters. His tormenting of Mr Ackerley about an accident he was involved in years ago (…how did he know about that?!…was Jonathan right when he said, he felt like Richard could read his mind?!), lead to Mr Ackerely lashing out at his wife in a moment of madness. And finally, Richard’s mysterious death links to the evil inside of him becoming so overpowering it kills him.
Even Nicholas couldn’t become the hero that Jonathan so desperately needed… He also suffered the consequences of being in Richard’s presence.
Would I recommend this book? Yes, it definitely keeps your mind working until the last page and reinforced my belief that Patrick Redmond is an incredibly talented writer and one to watch.
Is it in my top ten? Unfortunately no, I preferred The Replacement.
Until next time, Chloe x
P.S. I’m now reading John Grisham’s latest addition to the Theodore Boone series; The Fugitive, a series I’ve been particularly fond of in the past few years…