The Night of Wishes

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The Night of Wishes: Or the Satanarchaeolidealcohellish Notion Potion is a book by the German children's book author Michael Ende that was first published in 1989 and awarded with the Swiss literary award "La vache qui lit" in 1990. The original German title was Der satanarchäolügenialkohöllische Wunschpunsch.


The evil sorcerer Beelzebub Preposteror has contracted with His Excellency the Minister of Pitch Darkness to perform a certain number of evil deeds each year. This year, however, he did not meet the requirement, because the High Council of the Animals has sent the cat Maurizio as a spy, which forces Beelzebub to be more cautious.

On New Year's Eve (called, not unimportantly for the plot, St. Sylvester's Day in Germany) he joins forces with the evil witch Tyrannia Vampirella, who has the same problem due to the raven Jakob who is spying on her. Together they try to brew the eponymous Notion Potion that will grant them all wishes, in order to fulfill their part of the contract before midnight. If they succeeded to brew the potion they wouldn't even have to keep it secret from the animals, because due to the nature of the potion every wish they make will have the exact opposite effect - i.e. if they wish someone good health, he'll become sick instead.

The plot starts on New Year's Eve at 5 pm and the chapters each represent one hour until midnight to illustrate the increasing time pressure that the characters are under. On the one hand, the sorcerers have to complete a five-meter-long recipe to brew the potion, while constantly getting in each other's way. On the other, the cat and the raven must find a way to stop their evil plan while tackling their own problems, namely the obesity of the cat and the chronic diseases of the raven. Nevertheless, they devise a plan to exploit a weakness of the potion: when the potion has not been fully drunk up before the first ring of the bell at midnight, the potion won't reverse the meaning of the wishes - as expected by the two sorcerers - but instead grants them as wished.


German title read out

The word satanarchäolügenialkohöllisch is a portmanteau from the German words Satan, Anarchie, Archäologie, Lüge, genial, Alkohol and höllisch (Satan, anarchy, archeology, lie, ingenious, alcohol and infernal). The English word Satanarchaeolidealcohellish is a similar portmanteau of the words Satan, anarchy, archaeology, lie, ideal, alcohol and hellish.


The book inspired an animated series, Wunschpunsch.


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