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A Wish in the Dark
Book cover depicting a boy standing in a boat, a girl on the pier behind him, against the backdrop of a luminous mansion
Author Christina Soontornvat
Cover artist Ji-Hyuk Kim
Country United States
Language English
Publisher Candlewick Press
Publication date
March 24, 2020
Pages 384
ISBN 978-1-5362-0494-0
OCLC 1127828873

A Wish in the Dark is a 2020 children's fantasy novel by American author Christina Soontornvat. It is a retelling of the 1862 novel Les Misérables by Victor Hugo, and contains elements inspired by Thai culture. The book received positive reviews from critics and won a Newbery Honor and a Jane Addams Children's Book Award.


After the city of Chattana was ravaged by the Great Fire, plunging it into darkness, it falls under the tyrannical rule of the Governor who is the only person capable of magically creating light. Pong, a nine-year-old boy who was born in Namwon Prison and who has spent his entire life, finally escapes and longs to live freely, though his prison tattoo identifies him as a fugitive. He seeks refuge in a distant monastery, where he is taken in by Father Cham and the other monks.

Four years later, the monastery is visited by the family of the former warden of Namwon Prison, who was dismissed after Pong's escapes. Pong narrowly flees after he is recognized by Nok Sivapan, the warden's daughter, who vows to bring him to justice to restore honor to her family. Pursued by Nok, Pong returns to Chattana, where he reunites with his former friend from prison, Somkit, and becomes involved in a movement to protest the social inequality in the city. Nok attempts to warn the Governor about the planned protest, but is harshly rebuffed; she begins to question the Governor's motives and eventually comes to realize the oppression in the city. She unites with Pong, Somkit, and the other protestors in the march, which successfully results in an end to the Governor's rule. Though the future seems uncertain, the people of Chattana can live more freely, and begin learning to create their own light.

Background and publication

A Wish in the Dark is a retelling of the 1862 novel Les Misérables by French writer Victor Hugo. The book was published by Candlewick Press on March 24, 2020, and the audiobook version was narrated by Greta Jung.

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