Hey you all. It’s been a while since I last posted something. My new job and the start of a new college year have left me with very little time to blog, but I’m going to try to make up for that by posting more in the weekends. Today I have a review for you guys and girls about a book that I really loved. It’s called The Forbidden Wish written by Jessica Khoury. Before I start my review let me first tell you what this book is about.
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 probably told everybody already how much I love retellings of fairytales and myths, but in case I haven’t: I LOVE RETELLINGS!!! So, when I came across the description of this book I was really excited. The story of Aladdin isn’t often retold and it is one of my favorite stories. I’m still wondering where this story originally came from and would love to find its origins someday. However, that’s a story and quest for another day. Today I’m going to convince you to read this particular retelling because it is awesome!
Let me start with the writing style. Normally I don’t really focuss on this aspect, but the writing in this book blew me away and deserves mentioning. Khoury’s writing is poetic and lyrical, reminiscent of the oral storytellers of old. It is not hard to imagine somebody relating this story to you (sometimes it even seemed as if somebody was reading it to me). The scenes seem to come alive before your eyes without effort. For example:
The air is thick with old jinn magic, a vestige of the great war fought here many centuries ago. It clings to the walls, drips from the ceiling, puddles between the golden roots of the jewel trees. It fills the empty ruins already half sunk into the desert, the long crumbling corridors that branch like roots, linking the towers and halls and storehouses. The city is a breath away from collapsing entirely. For five hundred years this magic has churned and coiled in its chambers, building up like gas beneath the earth, waiting for a spark to set it on fire.
Another aspect that makes this story so beautiful is the main character Zahra. The book is told from her perspective. As a jinn that has lived for over four thousand years, but was made immortal at the age of seventeen (or sixteen I can’t exactly remember which it was) the reader experiences the weight of Zahra’s long life while at the same time her innocence and wonder in normal everyday occurences. The contrast between these two is written really well. On the one hand you can feel Zahra’s hopelessness and her will to be free of immortality. On the other hand you see how she (re)discovers the simple pleasures and the things that make life worth living. Because of the way the story is written (present intermixed with parts about Zahra’s past) you can’t help but feel for Zahra and hope for the best. Hope that she will eventually be free of her life of servitude.
Of course love interest Aladdin is written just as well. He wants revenge for the murder of his parents, but doesn’t want to follow in their footsteps as leader of a rebellion. He is not exactly selfish, but just really focussed on his vengeance. Along the way he will discover that there are more important things than avenging past wrongs and being proven right. He will learn these lessons from a sweet, but slightly broken girl in a lamp. At the same time Aladdin teaches Zahra important life lessons. In particular a lesson about the power of true love.
The worldbuilding in this book is also really well developed. The story world has been based on Middle Eastern history and mythology and is blended into a unique fantastic realm. Especially the history of the jinn and the ways they can come into being are beautifully unique and thought out. The blending of the world of the Gods, the world of the jinni and the world of man was gorgeously written and really made sense in this story. Nowhere did I feel like I didn’t understand how and why things were happening.
If you are looking for a romantic fantasy novel look no further! This book has a sweet and realistic romance, a well-developed world and lyrical writing style that will keep you hooked from start to finish. Furthermore, the two main characters are really likeable and will have you rooting for them throughout the story. This is one ya-novel every lover of fantasy, retellings and/or romance should have in his or her bookcase!