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The Wishing Game by Meg Shaffer

Contemporary fiction

The Wishing Game

BOTY FINALIST

Each year thousands of members vote for our Book of the Year award—congrats to The Wishing Game!

Debut

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Meg Shaffer, on your first book!

by Meg Shaffer

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Quick take

This moving, transportive story follows four bookish souls competing for a rare book from their favorite author.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Quirky

    Quirky

  • Illustrated icon, Puzzle

    Puzzle

  • Illustrated icon, Buzzy

    Buzzy

  • Illustrated icon, Underdog

    Underdog

Synopsis

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.

Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of The Wishing Game.

The Wishing Game

PROLOGUE

May

Every night, Hugo went for a walk on the Five O’Clock Beach, but tonight was the first time in five years his wandering feet spelled out an SOS in the sand.

He traced the letters carefully, drawing them large enough that they could be seen from space. Not that it mattered. The tide would wash the Five clean by dawn.

It had been a bit of whimsy on Jack’s part naming it the Five O’Clock Beach. Destiny, Jack said of finding this little patch of Atlantic forest twenty-odd years ago. These ninety acres right off the coast of southern Maine formed a near-perfect circle. Jack Masterson, who’d created Clock Island on paper and in imaginations, could now build it in real life. In his living room, Jack kept a clock with the numbers marked by pictures of places on the island—the lighthouse at the twelve, the beach at the five, the guesthouse at the seven, the wishing well at the eight—which led to conversations like . . .

Where are you going?

Five O’Clock.

When will you be back?

By the lighthouse.

Places were times. Times were places. Confusing at first. Then charming.

Hugo found it neither confusing nor charming anymore. One could go mad living in a house like that. Maybe that’s what happened to Jack.

Or maybe that’s what happened to Hugo.

SOS.

Save Our Sanity.

The sand was so cold on his naked feet it felt wet. What day was it? May 14? May 15? He couldn’t say for sure, but he knew summer would be here soon. His fifth summer on Clock Island. Maybe, he thought, one summer too many. Or was it five summers too many?

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Why I love it

It is rare to come across a heroine that feels like a tiny part of me put into words. But Lucy Hart felt immediately very close to home. A love for word games and logic puzzles? Check. An extreme emotional attachment to her favorite childhood books? Check. A deep-seated desire to pass along her love of reading to those closest to her? Check.

Unlike me, though, Lucy gets to go on the adventure of a lifetime when the mysterious and elusive author of her favorite book series invites her to a competition on his isolated private island. The chance of winning a rare book means that Lucy might finally get to adopt Christopher, an orphan who already feels like family to her. But this contest involves scarier things than just puns and riddles, and meeting her idol forces Lucy to confront some uncomfortable truths about herself and her fears.

The Wishing Game is full of fun twists and turns, childhood whimsy, and quirky characters who’ll surprise you. But behind all the fun and games, Meg Shaffer craftily reminds all of us grownups about the power of wishing, and how much bravery it takes to chase a dream. For anyone looking for a warm hug in the form of a book, read on!

Member ratings (31,027)

  • Lydia C.

    Indianapolis, IN

    What an absolute gift of a book! I haven’t felt this emotional or hopeful in a story since I read The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune a few years ago. Loved everything about this book!⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Abby D.

    New Haven, CT

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️!! This book was the best I have read in a while! It brought back all the nostalgia of my childhood and waiting for my Hogwarts letter or a satyr to take me to Camp Half Blood. A must read!!

  • Amanda G.

    Saint Louis, MO

    To put it simply, I adored this book. It was a warm hug, a fun adventure, a great escape. It made me feel like a kid in the best way and reminded me why I’ve loved reading my entire life. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Jennifer J.

    Neenah, WI

    This book was an absolutely magical read! I was very unsure about this book but ended up adoring every last detail of this book! Lucy, Christopher, Hugo & Jack were such lovable characters! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Stephanie E.

    Casper, WY

    For me, this book started off really slow, I was struggling to keep reading….but something happened and I just couldn’t put it down! A really great story, that brought sad and happy tears!! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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Contemporary fiction
View all
The Last Love Note
Anita de Monte Laughs Last
Honey
The Leftover Woman
The Same Bright Stars
Bye, Baby
Swan Song
The Connellys of County Down
Joe Nuthin’s Guide to Life
Jackpot Summer
Adelaide
The Collected Regrets of Clover
Again and Again
Evil Eye
Black Cake
Maame
Romantic Comedy
Someone Else’s Shoes
Once There Were Wolves
We Are the Brennans
The Bad Muslim Discount
What Comes After
Olga Dies Dreaming
Last Summer at the Golden Hotel
Monster in the Middle
My Dark Vanessa
Nine Perfect Strangers
The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany
The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes
Honey Girl
In Every Mirror She's Black
Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband?
Sankofa
The Unsinkable Greta James
The Love of My Life
The Five-Star Weekend
The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto
The Wishing Game
Behold the Dreamers
The Mothers
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk
Little Fires Everywhere
The Music Shop
Queenie
Where’d You Go, Bernadette
The Reckless Oath We Made
Dear Edward
When We Were Vikings
The Girl with the Louding Voice
Anxious People
A Good Neighborhood
Big Summer
All Adults Here
Happy & You Know It
Friends and Strangers
The Comeback
True Story
The Last Story of Mina Lee
Troubles in Paradise
White Ivy
This Close to Okay
The Chicken Sisters
The Prophets
The Kindest Lie
In a Book Club Far Away
The Other Black Girl
Apples Never Fall
A Quiet Life
We Are the Light
The Most Likely Club
The Fortunes of Jaded Women
When We Were Bright and Beautiful
The Hotel Nantucket