Despite having read this over a month ago, I don’t think I am quite over how beautiful it all was. I recently discovered retellings and the more I read, the more I fall in love with this genre, which makes me re-live all of my favorite stories with twists and turns and just takes me away in a whole other world. The Forbidden Wish did not fail in doing that – on the contrary, it was gorgeous from beginning to end, taking me in a whole other world I can’t quite seem to forget.
AN IMPRESSIVE WORLD-BUILDING
“You can’t choose what happens to you, but you can choose who you become because of it.”
I know Aladdin’s story despite not having read or seen it or anything for a while – at least I think I remembered the key points when I started reading this. I was pleasantly surprised to be thrown, from page one, into a vivid world-building, rich with descriptions and sensations and feelings that I was there, inside of the pages, into this world I only read about in books. Everything felt gorgeously alive, the author’s writing style taking me away with every beautiful description it managed to give. Yet the world here isn’t only description – which would make it for a boring sort of retelling, if you ask me. It’s fast-paced, it’s witty, it‘s just everything you can expect from a story like Aladdin’s: it’s filled with adventure and emotions, ups and downs like a roller-coaster. I’m not such a fan of big sensations like the ones you get on roller-coasters, but damn, that one, I’ll go back again and again for it.
GORGEOUS CHARACTERS AND STUNNING DEVELOPMENT
“As the poets say, stories are truth told through lies.”
What makes this story stand out from the usual Aladdin’s retelling, is that this is not Aladdin’s journey. It’s the jinni’s, the girl in the lamp (yes, girl), a magical creature drawn so complexly into the story that you can’t help but falling in love with her. From the beginning, Zahra is so well-shaped, three-dimensional, and with every page turned you get to know a little bit more about her, her feelings, her identity, her past and what makes her get up in the morning and so on. As the story goes on, you get to see her develop, change with her surrounding, as her motives change and weave as her feelings grow. Despite being a jinni, Zahra felt so human with her emotions. She was strong yet flawed, and I could feel every single one of her emotions as I read her story – everything, really, helped me relate to this character and root for her from page one.
Aladdin was one character that I quickly grew fond of as I read, because just like our main character, he was very, very three-dimensional, with his own insecurities hiding behind his self-assured attitude and every single thing he did. Reading about these characters and adventures made my heart burst with happiness at times – and I think that’s how you realize that you’ve grown so fond of the characters in a book. Also, maybe that’s when you realize that they are just characters on pages and when you cry – but well let’s leave that emotional breakdown for another time, shall we?
LOVE, FRIENDSHIPS & FEELINGS
“The things that were once sweet to me are now bitter. The sun is not half so bright. The stars seem dimmer. All this wealth and luxury feels meaningless. All the world is in your shadow, Zahra. I cannot help but see you when I close my eyes.”
If The Forbidden Wish holds a love story at its heart, it did not overshadow what we are looking for in an Aladdin retelling, or in this kind of book for that matter, which is really an adventure. I was looking for an adventure when I opened this book, and boy, did I get one. However, since the little marshmallow in me has to talk about romance, I will just as well, so bear with me because IT WAS PERFECTION. As I read, I could see feelings change and grow, just as it happens with two people who might start feeling some kind of connection between each other. It was not insta-love at all, nor did it take a thousand pages out of the story for slow and boring moments where they are just two little love-birds. It was complicated, it was terrifying, it was forbidden, it was growing and taking each other apart and back together again and it gave me SO MANY FEELINGS, I loved it. If there was some drama with their relationship as it grew and changed, it wasn’t unnecessary drama and was well-brought because of the plot and circumstances, which once again, I was grateful for.
Another thing that made my heart burst with happiness here, was the importance of friendships and other family bonds in the book. There are girl – squat goals in here, but what retained my attention the most was how Zahra’s relationship to Habiba was depicted: strong bonds, sisterhood bonds I can totally relate to and love seeing in my books.
I think I might have ranted enough about The Forbidden Wish now. There’s only one thing left to say here: if you love adventures, retellings, Aladdin’s story and / or just overall incredible story-telling, I would definitely advice you to read this gorgeous book. And come fangirl with me afterwards.
Final rating: It’s a hurricane!
Do you want to read The Forbidden Wish? Share your thoughts in comments!
Jessica Khoury, The Forbidden Wish, Published by RazorBill, February 23rd 2016.
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?