The Forbidden Wish
by Jessica Khoury
**Retelling based on Aladdin from One Thousand and One Nights
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.
One of the things I have loved about the few Jessica Khoury books I’ve read is how well she imbues life into her setting and her story. While her characters aren’t the most outstanding, they are readily likable, propelled by the story to be that main hero or heroine we’d love to relate with.
The Forbidden Wish is no different, but in Zahra, she not only creates a readily likable main character, but a unique twist on a well-known character’s story.
I have never read the original Aladdin tale from One Thousand and One Nights, and probably like a lot of other people am only vaguely familiar with that original story through the Disney make of Aladdin. Even so, it was one of my more favorite Disney movies, and so I was delighted to find a retelling with such a different take on the story.
Aladdin is the same--a street rat and a thief. But when he chances upon his magical lamp, he discovers that his genie is a girl. The princess he is compelled to marry, making his “I wish to be a prince” wish for, is a warrior woman, with a strength and independence that I found pretty awesome--especially since the Disney version, for all it’s supposed forward thinking, really displayed Jasmine as a trophy to be won with nothing else really going for her.
I found the new take on this tale quite lovely. In fact, I kind of prefer this new spin to the Disney adaptation, if only because Disney has a penchant for instalove that I’m not a big fan of. And again, in this story, the princess is a woman who can fend for herself and rule a nation. In this story, the romance is developed over time spent together between Jinni and master, creating a partnership and friendship that becomes stronger over time.
In this story, there is more than just the romance between Aladdin and Zahra, even if the entire story is actually based upon the romance in the first place.
The characters in The Forbidden Wish were all created wonderfully, even Aladdin who almost teetered on the edge of carbon-copy if not for his goofiness and his strength in friendship with Zahra. I also liked that he had his faults of weakness for women, drink, and thievery. It’s a pretty nice touch, not having a broody, perfect YA hero.
I wish we could have seen more of the people surrounding the Princess Caspida, especially her Watchmaidens. But as this story seems to be a romance, first and foremost, between Zahra and Aladdin, I’m content with the way things progressed.
I mean, sure, the ending felt a little rushed and overwhelming, but at the end of the day, I really just found that this was a highly enjoyable and delightful read.
2016 Reading Challenges:
• Goodreads Reading Challenge
• BookLikes Reading Challenge