Publisher Website - Penguin Random House
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 352 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received for honest review from the publisher**
She is the most powerful Jinni of all. He is a boy from the streets. Their love will shake the world...My knowledge of the Aladdin tale begins and ends with the Disney version. Horrible, I know. I was immediately intrigued by the twist of having the jinni who aids Aladdin be female, and in doing so adding a delicious complication to the plot. The Forbidden Wish is a entrancing tale that not only pays tribute to it's source material, but creates a rich mythology all it's own.
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.
The jinn mythology is rich and layered. Zahra, herself, comes with a complicated past that weaves together with the mythology to deepen and enrich the story. This is where the novel truly shines. Jessica Khoury has created a vivid setting that only compliments this mythology. Her writing is filled with lush descriptions, and breathing sequences of magic and wonder. The setting is perhaps the strongest aspect of the story after the mythology that has been created.
Zahra is a complicated character. She's steadfast, resolute, resourceful, impulsive, and both strong and weak. She is ruled by things that bind her and longs for freedom. She desperate for the freedom that she's been denied for so many years and is willing to be a little ruthless to get it. She struggles with a lot of the choices she has to make. She doesn't instantly do the right thing, or even know what the right thing is. She figures it out as she goes along, and learns what is truly important to her. This was especially relatable because none of us always know what to do in various situations. We stumble, make mistakes, and learn from them. That is something Zahra is desperately trying to do - learn from her mistakes and not repeat them. It makes this mythical being seem human in a very real way.
Caspida, the Princess, is used to be underestimated. She, like Zahra, is used to those around her thinking her incapable of making decisions on their own. She is a capable, strategic future Queen, and one whose intelligence is evident from the moment we meet her. This story has a pulsing undercurrent of feminism to it. It's focus is two women struggling against those who wish to rule them. It's two women claiming their voices, and forging their own path in hierarchies primarily dominated by men. This subtle aspect to the story is incredibly well done, and done in a way that feels organic to the story.
The romance is surprising. The initial pitch made it sound like a love triangle would grace these pages. There is the barest hint of one, but it is obvious where everyone's hearts are leading them almost immediately. Instead we are treated to a story about love in all it's forms, and the how powerful it is. Love has the power to do many things. It can heal, hurt, inspire and be a source of strength. People often allow their hearts to rule their decisions, and that speaks to the power it holds over us. This novel celebrates both the good and bad things that can result from love, and how sometimes sacrificing for those you love can be the most selfless thing imaginable. The love between friends, romantic love, family bonds, and the love a ruler holds for their people are all found within these pages, and all given equal weight and significance. It truly celebrates love, and is the heartbeat of the story.
A dizzyingly spellbinding retelling that is as romantic as it is magical. This will please fans of the Aladdin tale and ensnare new fans with it's lush setting and delightful characters. Jessica Khoury adds a little extra magic to the jinni that aids Aladdin, and her story is not one you're likely to forget.