Review: Down With the Shine – Kate Karyus Quinn

down with the shineThere’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…

Rating: 4/5

The perfect, uh, tonic – pardon the pun – to aid me in the midst of a massive reading slump. I was impressed with the weird yet compelling nature of the author’s writing in her previous book, Don’t You Forget About Me, and she steps up her game in Down With the Shine.

The world isn’t a horrible place I thought it was. The world is great. It’s awesome and full of possibility that I was simply never drunk enough to see before. 

The concept itself is pretty intriguing – what if the wishes you made really did come true? And were granted, unwittingly, by a wish-granter who doesn’t know her own power? Such is the premise of this novel, where protagonist Lennie Cash gatecrashes the start-of-term party, armed with her uncle’s moonshine, and begins reenacting the family’s drinking ritual, whereby participants make a wish before downing the potent alcohol.

There is something about the male brain that makes it particularly susceptible to the threat of being called a chicken. They will do the dumbest shit to disprove it. 

Of course, everything goes downhill from there, as the silly, inane and dangerous wishes made by her classmates come true at dawn the next morning, and utter chaos reigns. Lennie is in the thick of things, dealing with her resurrected best friend, being physically stuck to another dude, and trying to undo all the damage she has wrought, which appears to have no easy solution.

There’s also the matter of her dangerous criminal father to deal with, whose presence looms over the reader and Lennie from the very first page. More than the fantasy aspect of the wish-granting scenario, however, the book focuses on family and friendships – Lennie’s three gruff uncles who care about her more than she thinks; Dylan, Lennie’s dead best friend and the aftermath which has left her with substantial emotional baggage, and the awkward interactions with Smith, the twin brother of Dylan.

“No, the shit storm has passed. We are now up shit creek without a paddle. Which means we’re stuck and might as well go gently down the stream.”

While I’m not entirely satisfied with the ending and the way things were resolved, overall this was a strange but fascinating, well-written and at-times humorous take on the genie-in-a-bottle trope set in contemporary YA.

ARC received from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from uncorrected proof and may differ from final publication. 


10 thoughts on “Review: Down With the Shine – Kate Karyus Quinn

  1. OH I have this for review as well! And I’m glad you really liked it! Down With The Shine reminds me a lot of A Criminal Magic, now that I think about it. Except that wishes seem to come true in this book. Wow.

    Awesome review 🙂 Sad you didn’t like the way it ended, but I’m glad you loved the book overall!


  2. I have to review this soon as well! This will be my first novel by this author, so I’m really curious to see how great her writing is. I drink moonshine, so hopefully this book and I will get along lol


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