Rebels of the Lamp coverRebels of the Lamp

By Michael M. B. Galvin and Peter Speakman
Disney Hyperion, 2015

A Review by
Colleen R. Cahill
October, 2015

Genies and wishes; these conjure up either Arabian nights or Barbara Eden, depending on your background. For fantasy literature they also offer a rich resource for good story material and that is what you find in Rebels of the Lamp by Michael M. B. Galvin and Peter Speakman from Disney Hyperion.  Here is a tale of the wonder and cost of having your own wish machine, for as the back cover says, “Find a lamp. Make a wish. Start a war.”

When Parker Quarry becomes master of a jinn he does was most twelve-year-olds would do: wishes for a red Porsche and the skills of a Nascar driver. Two weeks earlier, life was much different for Parker: he was living in Los Angeles with his overworked mother and a father in jail for embezzlement.  Parker is having issues, so his mother decides  to send her troubled son to live with relatives in Cahill, New Hampshire.  Parker’s desire to be popular leads to some tall tales which get him hot water with bullies, but what really gets him in trouble is when Parker steals a metal cylinder from a professor’s office at the University where his uncle works.  His cousin Theo tries to return the purloined piece, but both boys are waylaid by a sinister group men with guns.  Only Parker’s opening the sealed metal tube saves them, as he frees the jinn Fon-Rahm who becomes Parker’s servant for life. Both boys realize this has to be kept secret, but as Reese, a brainy girl in their class stumbles across the pair just in time to see the newly released and strikingly powerful genie, the duo becomes a trio.

Now Parker has unlimited wishes, although with some limits, such as he cannot be changed physically, nor turn back time.  He can possess an item or knowledge but only for a limited time and wishes cannot make someone love him.  While Theo tries to rein in Parker’s wilder wishes and Reese offers advice on the consequences of these, Parker does get a few dreams fulfilled, hench the crazy ride in the Porsche, much to Theo’s, Reese’s and Fon-Rahn’s discomfort.  But the thorn in this rose shows up quick when the men in dark car reappear, planning on killing Parker to get the Jinn.

As would be expected in a story with wishes, this is a book about choices.  Parker’s choices seem the most important, as he is the master of the jinn, but while less flamboyant, both Theo and Reese are equally fascinating, as they are also making choices. Theo has to decide if he will help his troublemaking cousin and Reese is trying to find a way to rebel against her over-controlling mother without losing what she really wants.  

Also intriguing are the interspersed chapters in the book of a translation of an old manuscript. This explains how over 3000 years before as a poor peasant loses his family and makes a choice that could lead to a world of very dark magic.

This book is not only a good one to give to any young reader in your life, it is a fun read for you, too.  I recommend you add Rebels of the Lamp to your wish list.