Title: The Forbidden Wish
Author: Jessica Khoury
Publication: February 23rd 2016 by Razorbill
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Retellings, Romance
Pages: 352 pages
Format: Library book
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.
Shelf it on Goodreads
So here’s the alphabetical run down:
Aladdin’s character just feels right. I know that the Disney version of Aladdin isn’t “official” or anything, but it has always been my favorite Disney movie, so the fact that this Aladdin feels true to that character is just perfect. He has all the charisma and flirtatious smiles, but this Aladdin is the real-life, grown-up version. I adore Aladdin, he’s cocky at times and seems to not know how attractive he is at others.
Zahra as the jinni, I thought I would have trouble with (since it is a jarring difference from the Robin Williams blue tailed genie of the lamp), but she really wins you over. Zahra’s ongoing conversation in her head with “Habiba” (the Queen Roshana that according to legend she betrayed) is such a great detail that gives you insight into Zahra’s character as well as her hundreds-of-years-ago relationship with the queen.
Caspida is the badass princess of Parthenia with her band of butt kicking Watchmaidens. I applaud Khoury for making the princess into a character with true power and knowledge of her people and the needs of her city.
This is not my favorite cover. It has good components, but they just didn’t add up. I love the purple sparkly smoke and the original Aladdin looking jinni lamp with the title font coming out of it, but the girl’s profile at the bottom is not at all how I picture Zahra and somehow just doesn’t seem to fit.
For the most part, I adored this book, so any criticisms are really just me nitpicking. There was one circumstance that I felt a character was too quick to forgive a very large deception and move on to trust a little too easily.
The setting is one of the best qualities of this book. It was richly detailed and pulled you in completely, making you feel the streets of Parthinia, the courtyards of the castle, I can picture all of it as if I watched it instead of read it.
The climax of the story was more complex than I expected, but the author did a great job of making sure the laws governing her fantasy world were airtight before throwing in a loophole. So although it is a fantasy and obviously not “believable” in the real world, it was believable within the fantasy world of the book, which is important.
The phrase “a thousand and one” is cleverly used by Zahra throughout the book anytime she is exaggerating. A detail that was not lost on me, since this story originally comes from One Thousand and One Nights.
“Wishes have a way of twisting themselves, and there is nothing more dangerous than getting your heart’s desire. The question is, are you willing to gamble? How much are you willing to lose? What are you willing to risk everything for?”
“There is no secret to happiness. Because happiness itself is a mythical construct, a dream you humans tell yourselves to get you through each day. It is the moon, and you, like the sun, pursue it relentlessly, chasing around and around getting nowhere.”
“And what do you know of love?”
“That it must be a choice.”
“Oh, my naive thief. ” I pause briefly to meet his gaze. “Love is rarely a choice.”
I really enjoyed The Forbidden Wish. In my opinion it deserves a solid four hearts. There seems to be a theme recently in YA fiction of One Thousand and One Nights retellings and this book holds it’s own as a stand alone amongst them.