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Literature / The Night of Wishes

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The Night of Wishes (or The Satanarchaeolidealcohellish Notion Potion; German title: Der satanarchäolügenialkohöllische Wunschpunsch) is a comic fantasy novel by Michael Ende (author of The Neverending Story). A sorcerer and a witch, finding themselves on New Year's Eve and both behind on their annual evil quotas, team up to concoct the Satanarchaeolidealcohellish Notion Potion, which grants wishes to anyone who drinks from it and will give them unimaginable power for evil. All that stand in their way are a conceited cat and raggedy raven. Hilarity (and much wordplay) ensues.

Inspired an animated series, Wunschpunsch.

This book provides examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming: It's Mr. Maggot, not Mr. Larva, if you please.
  • Affably Evil: The emissary of Hell, Maledictus Maggot, is extremely polite.
  • Animated Adaptation: Not only the Wunschpunsch series in general but also the episode "Night of Wishes".
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: The "Büchernörgele" is too well-read to believe in supernatural beings like elves or fairies, despite being in a room full of them.
  • Black Speech: The language of the fourth dimension is a variation on this - it literally cannot be translated, because it describes things and actions of that dimension that don't exist in ours.
  • Broken Pedestal: Maurizio, the cat, starts out worshipping his master and is heartbroken to find out said master's true intentions.
  • Carnivore Confusion: A cat and a raven teaming up. Justified in that both work for the High Council of Animals and will stop doing so as soon as they reach their goal (stopping the two evil wizards).
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  • Cast from Money: Liquid money was one of the ingredients needed for the Notion Potion.
  • Cats Are Mean: Subverted, as the cat is probably the kindest and most compassionate character in the book (if a bit of a dunce at times).
  • Celestial Bureaucracy: Saint Sylvester can't simply perform a miracle for the heroes because he would have to put in a request and get approval first, and they don't have the time.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Par for the course with an evil wizard and a just-as-evil witch - the second they're finished with brewing the punch, they try to take each other out.
  • Clever Crows: Jacob.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Saint Sylvester, due to being from a higher plane of existence.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The required amount for one of the potion's ingredients depends on the drinker's favorite color. This causes an argument between Beelzebub and Tyrannia over who will drink the potion until they learn that their respective favorite colors require the same amount.
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  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Saint Sylvester initially believes that Jacob and Maurizio wanted to play a bad joke by ringing the bells before New Year, and considers turning them into stone figures till morning as a punishment. However, he changes his mind once they explain their intentions to him.
  • Crocodile Tears: Evil magic users can't cry, but Tyrannia fakes it to manipulate Beelzebub. It doesn't work.
    • The potion requires literal crocodile tears.
  • Cowardly Lion: Jacob constantly complains that he should have stayed in the nest with one of his wives, and yet the world is ending so he must press forward and save it.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Jacob the raven.
  • Deal with the Devil: How evil wizards and witches get their power. And woe to you if you don't manage to hold up your end of the bargain.
  • Determinator: Maurizio is introduced as a laughingstock, a fat little tomcat who has to draw on his heroic drive just to refain from eating or sleeping. Next thing you know, the same thing pushes him to climb up a church tower in a snowstorm to seek divine aid in spite of all Jacob's objections.
  • Deus ex Machina: Saint Sylvester, but only after a lot of prodding from Jacob.
  • Dragged Off to Hell: The fate the villains are attempting to avoid. They fail, of course.
  • Dub Name Change: In Brazil, Beelzebub Preposteror became Belzebu Errônius and Maledictus Maggot became Maledictus Vérminus (Worminus)
    • Beelzebub's oirignal German name is Beelzebub Irrwitzer (translates roughly and freely to madness maker.)
  • Dysfunction Junction: Beelzebub and Tyrannia come from a whole family of villains, though most of them are dead by the time the story starts.
  • Evil Orphan: Beelzebub's parents died in a shipwreck they caused themselves.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Beelzebub Preposteror, mixed (since the book appears to take place in modern times) with a hefty dose of Mad Scientist. For one, the cauldron mentioned under Technicolor Fire? He produces that by spraying anti-time particles onto the flames.
  • Extranormal Institute: Beelzebub is a graduate of "Sodom and Gomorra Gymnasium"note  and "Ahriman College".
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The story starts at New Year's Eve and ends a few minutes after midnight.
  • Feed the Mole: Beelzebub knew all along that Maurizio was an agent of the Animal Council and kept him in the dark with a facade of kindness (and tranquillizers).
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: Subverted. Beelzebub and Tyrannia only feel this way because church bells have sacred powers, including the power to counteract the potion.
  • Fountain of Youth: Tyrannia and Beelzebub accidentally turn each other young with the potion, which leads to some weird moments when they notice how gorgeous the other one is.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Lucifer's Salto Dimensionale.
  • Gargle Blaster: The titular Notion Potion. It curls your hair, makes smoke rise out of your ears, and even its preparation is so demanding that no punch bowl in the world could withstand the process, even if it were cut from a single diamond. This last property leads to the creation of the bowl mentioned below under Technicolor Fire.
  • Good Is Bad And Bad Is Good: The outlook of Beelzebub, Tyrrania, and their ilk.
  • Green Aesop: Evil magic is said to be partly responsible for the pollution of the environment.
  • Higher Understanding Through Drugs: The notion potion's recipe has a part that can only be understood when read in the 4th dimension. To get there, each wizard needs an injection of Lucifer's Salto Dimensionale
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Beelzebub's parents died in a terrible maritime disaster that they caused.
  • I Do Not Speak Nonverbal: Jacob's winking to hint that he's a fellow spy goes right over Maurizio's head.
  • Kavorka Man: Jacob is an ugly old bird, but has so many wives he can barely keep their names straight. It becomes a Running Gag.
    Jacob: If only I'd stayed in the nest with (Klara, Amelia etc) ...
    Maurizio: Another one?
  • Kid with the Leash: Beelzebub keeps a collection of elemental spirits trapped in jars. As soon as they get free, chaos ensues.
  • Large Ham: Tyrannia enters the house vie the chimney in a shower of gold coins, singing and demanding applause. When she's mad, she conjures a giant camel. Beelzebub isn't much better.
  • Last of His Kind: It's outright stated that Tyrannia and Beelzebub are the last living members of their family.
  • Long Title: The Night of Wishes doesn't seem too bad... until you've read the subtitle: The Satanarchaeolidealcohellish Notion Potion. (And in the original German, Der satanarchäolügenialkohöllische Wunschpunsch was the main title.)
  • Lost in Translation: The translators did their best, but not all of the wordplay survives in English. In particular, the Wunschpunsch, around which the whole plot revolves, has no equivalent in English that preserves both the concise description of its nature and the neat rhyme.
  • Lying Finger Cross: Early in the book, there's an illustration of Beelzebub and Tyrannia where Beelzebub does the finger cross behind his back and Tyrannia is implied to be doing the same. That was the first clue to their Chronic Backstabbing Disorder.
  • Made of Explodium: As mentioned under Thought-Aversion Failure, the potion is extremely unstable until it clears up. It's mentioned that it would explode with enough force to take out the whole city.
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory: Beelzebub has one.
  • Magic Mirror: Beelzebub Preposteror was warned by a magic mirror about the cat seeking shelter actually being a spy.
  • Married to the Job: Beelzebub, in a throwaway line. Not that any sane woman would want him.
  • Meaningful Name: All the villains.
  • Mushroom Samba
  • Nephewism: Tyrannia is Beelzebub's aunt and former guardian.
  • New Year Has Come: And Tyrannia and Beelzebub need to fulfill their evil quota until then or else...
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: The potion grants the reverse of what the drinker wishes out loud, which is why the villains planned to use it to commit all the evil deeds in their contracts in one night. However, with Maurizio and Jacob's intervention, all those hypocritical wishes for peace, prosperity etc. end up literally coming true.
  • Never Learned to Read: Jacob can't read human writing.
  • Odd Friendship: Maurizio and Jacob become this.
  • Oh, Crap!: By the time the villains realize the potion causes their wishes to become literally true, it's too late for them to do anything about it.
  • Old, Dark House: Nightmare Villa, custom-designed by Beelzebub.
  • Plot Tailored to the Party: A rare villainous version. For some odd reason, that potion recipe seems to require the skills of both main villains.
    • To start with, both of them have only half of the recipe, which is useless without being used in its entirety.
    • The recipe itself is written in code both understand, but the instructions are a mixed bag calling alternately for money magic or lab wizardry, which are the respective specialties of Tyrannia and Beelzebub, and they are each ignorant of the other field, to the point where Tyrannia couldn't even have made the cauldron required to take the extreme stress of the process.
    • One instruction in particular calls for an ingredient and says to measure out as much of it as half of your favourite colour. The only reason aunt and nephew don't tear each other apart over whose colour to pick? Both their favourites (venom green and sulphur yellow) just so happen to be the exact same length.
  • Portmanteau: The more words become part of a potion's name, the better.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: The only reason Beelzebub didn't kill Maurizio was his fear of the Animal Council's response.
  • Predator-Prey Friendship: Jacob (a bird) and Maurizio (a cat) become friends while trying to stop two evil wizards in spite of cats being bird eaters.
  • Security Cling: Maurizio and Jacob do this with each other several times.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Tyrannia Vampirella, the second villain, is described as a Money Witch. Apparently, "unlike the witches of old", having this kind of power includes an immunity to fire. She also invoked this trope to get Beelzebub through college, by bribing the administrators.
  • Secret Message Wink: Jakob, raven pet of the witch Tyrannia, keeps winking at Maurizio, cat pet of the wizard Bubonic, to clue Maurizio in on the fact that both are sent from the Council of Animals and were told to keep an eye on their masters. Of course it goes straight over Maurizio's head, who is flummoxed as to why the strange bird is trying to act all chummy. Bubonic, though, is the one who asks what is wrong with Jacob, and not Maurizio.
  • Security Cling: Jacob and Maurizio do this to each other without realizing it.
  • Take That!: The "Büchernörgele" ("book nag") is a Take That to literary critics, especially a famous German one named Marcel Reich-Ranicki, whose face he has in the illustrated German version.
  • Technicolor Fire: Beelzebub and Tyrannia create a bowl from cold green fire for the Notion Potion.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: The two villains lave each other with sickeningly sweet compliments that they both know are lies as they each wait for the chance to take the other out. In contrast, the good guys don't hide their mutual hatred and viciously assault each other almost immediately. This actually works out to their advantage, as it gets them both apologetic and ashamed enough to give working together a shit.
  • Thought-Aversion Failure: The final instruction on the recipe scroll is to simply wait until the potion has become completely clear. The tricky bit? You can't ask anything or even think a question while you wait, because at that point, the punch is so unstable that any doubt about getting it right will make it explode. The book subverts the trope, first by having the two villains sit and think about other things, and then, when that stops working, by having them descend into a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown that keeps them busy until the punch is clear.
  • Unusual Chapter Numbers: The Night of Wishes is told more or less in real time on a New Year's Eve, so the first chapter is 5:00 pm and the last is 12:00 am.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Maurizio, who claims descent from Neapolitan cat nobility. He's really just a stray cat, but his mannerisms are still the same.
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: The deadline. Also, the wishes granted by the potion would only come in reverse if they were made and all of the potion has been drunk before the first strike of the bells announcing the New Year. Saint Sylvester helped the heroes by giving them a strike to be tossed at the cauldron because even if the animals could have rang the bells before, it wouldn't have been the bells of new year, just some random noise.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Maurizio, in contrast to Jacob The Cynic.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: Knowing Beelzebub and Tyrannia can't make the Notion Potion without their enchanted parchment, Jacob and Maurizio try to destroy it. The parchment is able to defend itself.