‘Sometimes Getting Everything Is More Difficult (And More Delightful) Than You’d Expect: Reviewing ‘Three Little Wishes
by Richard Bruton
Clever, heart-warming, funny, quirky, and quite delightfully quaint – Three Little Wishes’ gives you a new take on the old question of what you’d wish for if you were the one uncorking the bottle. But what would happen if those three wishes came to the world’s worst overthinker? Well, that’s the perfect tale being told here, with wit and warmth in spades.
A modern re-working of that classic question – what would you do with those Three Little Wishes, Paul Cornell and Steve Yeowell create something smart, heart-felt, and absolutely delightful.
Three Little Wishes is just a wonderfully quaint book, and I mean that in the proper sense of the word quaint – something attractively unusual or old-fashioned rather than the slightly derogatory meaning of quaint that’s become more in vogue these days.
Because Three Little Wishes is both attractively unusual and old-fashioned in all the BEST ways.
It’s old-fashioned perhaps most of all because it’s something that’s unashamedly feel good, a whole graphic novel from start to finish that’s designed to make you feel better, to have a little time away from the world absolutely engrossed in something lightweight and lovely – although, as we’ll get into in a moment, something that does make you think at the same time. It’s also old-fashioned in the sense that yes, it’s a lovely play on the idea of the three magic wishes from a fantastical being freed from captivity in a bottle, and that’s about as old-fashioned as you can get.
And as for the attractively unusual, well that comes from the way Paul Cornell twists the idea of the three magic wishes and then does make you seriously think about what you’d do with them and just how difficult wish fulfillment can really be. Because we’ve all thought about it, all read the stories, but when you actually properly think about it, really properly get into the nitty gritty of wishing world peace or making something monumental happen, there’s all sorts of problems that suddenly crop up.
All the while, to go with this attractively unusual and old-fashioned tale, we have Yeowell on artwork, doing something that (and I trust you or he won’t take this the wrong way either) is also rather old-fashioned with the art here.
There’s no playing with the form, no reinventing the page, no jumping through artistic hoops, just good old-fashioned artist as simple storyteller.
Again, I’m using simple as a compliment – amongst the many definitions of simple that exist, I’m going for readily understood or performed. By which I mean Yeowell’s just doing the perfect job of carrying the weight of the storytelling with his art, not being showy, not being flashy, just doing the job and doing it beautifully.
As for what’s going on, well that too is simple, and best summarised by the PR for Three Little Wishes…
“Kelly Castleton is the most detail-oriented, by-the-book contract lawyer you could ever wish to have on your side – unless of course you happen to be an immortal fairy with three malicious wishes to grant!
Of course the day Kelly decides to be spontaneous on One Little Thing, she stumbles upon an ancient magic with the power to change everything! What to do – world peace? Win back her oh-so-perfect ex? Well, if underthinking got her into this mess, her habitual overthinking should be able to get her out of it!
When the fairy king Oberon is released from his enchanted imprisonment, he offers Kelly the simplest of gifts: Three Little Wishes. That’s all, no need to think too hard about it. Just wish for what you’ve always wanted and he’ll give you exactly that. Exactly, to the T… what could possibly go wrong?”
So yes, Kelly gets her three wishes from Oberon, King of the Faeries, released from centuries of confinement and immediately realises just what a tricky situation she’s walked into.
Her whole nature is uptight, difficult to get along with, obsessed with detail, and not really good at anything other than her job – as shown in one of the quickest, worst, and funniest first dates ever. Sure, she’s a genuinely nice person but all that gets hidden behind her detail-focused life. Thank God she’s got a best friend to at least point out that she really does need to lighten up and loosen up.
So, when she gets her three wishes, she immediately understands the importance of it and sets to work not to be tripped up by any of the pitfalls she suspects Oberon of wanting to pull. And of course, she’s quite right, as Oberon’s been a tricky bugger in the past.
Anyway, there’s little more of the plot you need to know bar that, let’s just leave this little summary with telling you just how she spends her first wish, something that will, or should, both immediately make you realise just how cleverly written this is, make you want to read more, and chuckle at the obsessive nature of Cornell’s lead.
That first wish – in all its six main clauses and thirty-four sub-clauses – means that the entire world changes overnight, socially and politically, and the effect is both immediate and monumental.
As for wishes two and three? Well that’s up to you to read on. Suffice it to say, there’s trouble from the US president, heartbreaking moral dilemmas as she just might be falling in love (again) with someone who could really do with a wish, not to mention being tracked by the world’s greatest assassin who’s suddenly not able to do the only thing he’s good at.
In short, Three Little Wishes is that most glorious of things, something that, yes, happens to be unusually attractive and old-fashioned – a wonderful light-hearted romp, a caper almost, yet one that’s got smarts and a heart, one you’ll enjoy enormously whilst always asking yourself, what the hell would my three little wishes be?
And in that, with a smile on your face and thoughts in your head after reading it, I reckon Paul Cornell and Steve Yeowell have done exactly what they meant to do.
Three Little Wishes – written by Paul Cornell, art by Steve Yeowell, colours by Pippa Bowland, letters by Simon Bowland
Published by Legendary Comics, 2022.