Publication Date: February 23, 2016
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 340 (ARC)
Source: From Publisher For Review
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.
I did not know what to expect going into this book. I've enjoyed Khoury's previous works, but I didn't love any of them, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that this is her best novel yet. Khoury takes the tale of Aladdin and twists it and turns it into something so awesome that I read all through my flights instead of taking the precious time to sleep. She had me hooked with the magic of her writing.
One of the coolest things about this book is that it is told from Zahra's perspective. We are getting the story from an all powerful jinni! How cool is that!? It gives Khoury the ability to explore unexplored territory because a human like Aladdin--whose perspective we typically get--cannot compare to this. She also takes advantage of this by telling the story to Zahra's friend, Habiba, who we slowly discover the identity of. It makes the story more personal, and makes such a strong figure even more real.
Khoury's writing experiences great growth in this novel as well. It's just beautiful. She threw herself into describing vivid worlds...deserts, palaces, jewels, what it feels to experience magic, and I was 100% enthralled. I could picture it all, I could feel it all, and it made me really focused on the story she had to tell.
This can also be attributed to the killer characterization though. This story is all about girl power, and I am totally behind that. We have Zahra who fights to the end, takes no crap from nobody, but is still supremely flawed and even scared because of the life she lives. We also have the Princess who is extremely strong and capable, but bound by her laws so she fights against them silently. And then we have her Watchmaidens who surround her, all also powerful and very skilled. Each of these girls are strong in their own right, and it is even better that they are friends. They bond. They have a sisterhood that cannot be broken. It is nice to see no petty squabbling among female characters and instead see them come together against an evil vizier.
The last thing I want to mention is the romance. This book is super romance heavy, even if I didn't think it would be. I am satisfied with that because I am all for romance when it advances the plot, and it totally does so in THE FORBIDDEN WISH. Khoury weaves a ridiculously tangled web with a forbidden romance and its heart, and as a reader you become so wrapped up in the story that you will hold your breath until the very last page. I never thought Aladdin could turn into a romance quite like this before, but I am oh so happy that Khoury explored this new territory.
Fun, inventive, and beautifully detailed, I think every retelling nut like myself needs to give this book a chance!
FTC Disclaimer: I received no compensation of any kind in exchange for my honest review.