Down With the Shine by Kate Karyus Quinn

down with the shineSynopsis: There’s a reason they say “be careful what you wish for.” Just ask the girl who wished to be thinner and ended up smaller than Thumbelina, or the boy who asked for “balls of steel” and got them-literally. And never wish for your party to go on forever. Not unless you want your guests to be struck down by debilitating pain if they try to leave.

These are things Lennie only learns when it’s too late-after she brings some of her uncles’ moonshine to a party and toasts to dozens of wishes, including a big wish of her own: to bring back her best friend, Dylan, who was abducted and murdered six months ago.

Lennie didn’t mean to cause so much chaos. She always thought her uncles’ moonshine toast was just a tradition. And when they talked about carrying on their “important family legacy,” she thought they meant good old-fashioned bootlegging.

As it turns out, they meant granting wishes. And Lennie has just granted more in one night than her uncles would grant in a year.

Now she has to find a way to undo the damage. But once granted, a wish can’t be unmade…

I received an ARC of this book from HarperCollins through Edelweiss! A big thank you to both of them!

How to describe a book as zany as Kate Karyus Quinn’s Down With the Shine? I didn’t know quite what to expect when I picked this one up, but I’m glad that I took a chance on it. It’s kind of magical realism meets contemporary meets murder mystery meets romance. I know, I know… That’s quite a lot for one average-length book, but Quinn actually does a great job of keeping it all together. I understood what was going on the whole time.

I really liked the beginning of the book. It hooked me from the get-go and made me feel invested in Lennie and her life. Then, as the story progressed, the beginning made more and more sense and tied-into her current predicament in unexpected ways.

There are a lot of odd characters in Down With the Shine, and it works. I’m not sure a cast this diverse would mesh in any other world, but here they all come together in a fun way, and it adds a rich level of character-development to the story. I especially liked Lennie, because she’s not your typical heroine – she’s completely clueless about what she’s about to unleash on the world, but that doesn’t mean she’s dumb. In fact, by the end, I had to admit she was pretty brilliant. Her relationships with her best friend, Dylan, and her crush, Smith, were richly drawn and easy to follow, and her familial relationships were very very juicy. Her family is no ordinary family, that much is for sure. I got very invested in her relationship with her parents, especially, and found their dynamic to be beyond fascinating.

I really love magical realism, and Down With the Shine is bursting with it, which is one of the reasons that I wanted to pick this book up in the first place. From the second I read the description I thought it’d be a book I’d enjoy. My only real complaint is that some of it is pretty crass, which, if you’ve read some of my reviews in the past, you know I don’t feel comfortable with the majority of the time. Luckily, Quinn is a brilliant storyteller, and the twists and turns were so plentiful that I couldn’t help but get caught up in the thick of things, which made it pretty easily to ignore the parts I found a bit too profane for my tastes.

But by far, my favorite part of this book was the ending. It is PHENOMENAL! Well thought-out, original, and I DID NOT see it coming from a mile away. I was so pleased by how Lennie was able to turn things around at the end that I was practically jumping up and down for her. The entire last few pages have so many clever tie-ins and parallels with earlier parts of the story (I don’t want to say anymore lest I give something major away), and I was tickled pink by how fun and quirky it was.

This is definitely a book for anyone who likes to walk (and read) on the wild side!

Rating: 4/5 stars 

Have you read Down With the Shine yet? Did you enjoy it? Do you like YA that’s supernatural in a contemporary setting?

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