My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Publication Date: February 23rd 2016
Point of View: 1st Person & Feminine
Recommended Age: 12+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Revenge, Royalty, War Setting, Magic, Fairy Tale Retelling
She is the most powerful Jinni of all. He is a boy from the streets. Their love will shake the world…
When Aladdin discovers Zahra’s jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn’t seen in hundreds of years—a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra’s very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes.
But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?
As time unravels and her enemies close in, Zahra finds herself suspended between danger and desire in this dazzling retelling of Aladdin from acclaimed author Jessica Khoury.
My, my, what an enchanting retelling of Aladdin brimming with magic, humour, villains and good kissing!
‘‘Give me thy hand,’’ said the Queen, ‘‘and let us be friends. For does not the poet say, one true-hearted friend is worth ten thousand camels laden with gold?’’
This the Jinni pondered, before replying, ‘‘The poet also says, woe to the man who befriends the jinn, for he shakes hands with death.’’
Zahra is a jinni. For thousands of years, she has granted wishes. Freedom is something she knows is impossible, but that doesn’t keep her from trying to break her curse and quit being a slave. When Aladdin finds Zahra, she is given a choice: betray him and forever be free of the lamp, or let his city, Parthenia, fall to ruins and everyone inside it die.
Is that really a choice?
I’ve read thousands of books, and I’ve met thousands of characters, but I can easily say that Zahra is a new favourite heroine of mine. She stands out. It’s not her beauty that makes her special, or her hidden kindness, but her determination. She believes herself to be a monster; after all, she did kill her most trusted friend, Habiba. Zahra puts on a hard and sturdy mask, but deep inside herself, she is not a four-thousand-year-old magical creature of nightmares, she’s just… a… a girl. With unreachable hopes and dreams.
The desert ripples, throwing the boy onto his back. I shift to human form and stand beside him, staring at the ground that held me captive for centuries. When the dust clears, there is nothing but a glinting blue stretch of sand, pure and virgin, coursed with wind ripples. The only evidence that there ever was a garden of wonders, the only testimony to the great city lost beneath the sand, is a single pale coin that lies on the surface, winking at the moon.
And, of course, there is me.
There is forbidden love. There is adventure. There is betrayal. It’s one of the best fairy tale retellings I have ever read. Aladdin retellings are quite rare; in the minority. The last one I perused is called A Whole New World and, if we compare its greatness to this one, The Forbidden Wish would be the sand and A Whole New World a plain and small rock buried by it. I loved this book.
We know of cases of beautiful covers/bad books, but I’m so relieved to say that this retelling never, at any point of the story, falls into that category.
‘‘Even a thief may have honor, and even a jinni may have a heart.’’
The only thing that keeps me from giving it a five-star rating is the stalling. There are days and days of stalling at the beginning of the book, when Aladdin and Zahra enter the palace and are waiting for the Fahradan celebration day.
Regardless, this is a winner.
‘‘Love is a path lined with roses,’’ I say bitterly. ‘‘But it leads to a cliff’s edge, and all who follow it tumble to their doom. You will not find your happiness there.’’