I received this book for free from First to Read in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury
Published by Penguin on February 23rd 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Love & Romance, Other, People & Places, Middle East
Format: Electronic ARC
Source: First to Read
Beautifully written retelling of the Aladdin story told from a unique perspective. I loved the luscious landscapes, the mythology, and the political intrigue but I wasn’t sold on the romance, which was a central part of the novel. I received this ARC from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review. It will be released on February 23, 2016.
“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?”
After being trapped in a jinni lamp for five-hundred years, Zahra is released by Aladdin, a young thief. Zahra is bound to grant her new master three wishes. Before Aladdin has had the chance to make his second wish, the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to finally secure her freedom from the lamp. Zahra is able to manipulate Aladdin into helping her with her mission, but she begins to develop feelings for him despite strict rules that forbid a jinni from loving a human. Is her freedom worth betraying her heart?
I chose this book because Aladdin has always been one of my favorite Disney animations. (As a side note: It is crazy how ingrained those cartoon images are in my head!) The Forbidden Wish has some familiar elements, but it is not a rehash. It is unique enough to be a fun adventure for fans of the story. The writing is beautiful and the descriptions of the world are breathtaking. The action sequences were also fantastic, which are sometimes tricky for me to keep up with when magic is involved! The danger is real and I really didn’t know if it was possible for them to get out of some situations unscathed.
“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.”
This version of the story is told in first person present from Zahra’s point of view. She is most compelling when she is recalling her history, especially with her previous master. She really struggles the mistakes of her past, which are slowly revealed throughout the story. She also struggles with who she is versus who she is supposed to be. Though I liked his backstory, Aladdin was the least interesting character for me. It is a little unfortunate because so much of Zahra’s angst is tied to him. He was really outshined by the women in this novel. Princess Caspida and her Watchmaidens were my favorite characters, even though they played supporting roles. They are badass! I would totally read a novel about their future escapades!
I’ve said in the past that I don’t like romantic plots, but I actually rate them pretty evenly. It’s just that when I don’t like the romantic parts, my enjoyment plummets quickly. I didn’t buy the romantic love between Zahra and Aladdin at all. I would be completely transported into the story, but then Zahra would start pining over Aladdin or the “I love you, but it can never be!” declarations would start and I was suddenly aware that I was in the middle of a young adult novel. I think I would’ve preferred their bond to be rooted in friendship. The dialogue would become distinctly modern at points, which was jarring in contrast with the exquisite nature of the rest of the book.
“If you’re not free to love,” I whisper, “you’re not free at all.”
The author ties all the loose threads together nicely and there are many great elements in this retelling. If you enjoy fairy tales and the previous paragraph of this review doesn’t bother you, it will probably be a 4-star+ for you.