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.
Description taken from Goodreads.
Of all the books to break my book slump, I didn’t think The Forbidden Wish would be the one to do it. I mean–I love Jessica Khoury, but it seemed like such an unlikely read.
Long story short, I ended up loving The Forbidden Wish a lot more than I thought it would. I think part of the reason why I was surprised by it was that this isn’t like the original Aladdin. At all.
Okay, I mean, names and basic character structures, but Khoury has weaved a world all her own in the making of this book, and it’s got me thinking that she seriously has to venture into fantasy more. For one thing, the world-building was brilliant. For another, the overarching plot kept me interested. I was fully invested in Zahra and Aladdin’s story. In my mini-reviews series, I mentioned somewhere that this whole book slump thing was basically a test to see who could get me to care about the characters again, and Khoury did that.
Okay, I’ll admit: Aladdin left something to be desired for me.
He seemed so… average? I don’t know, the two of us just didn’t click. I felt nothing toward him, except maybe the occasional bit of humor. Zahra was who truly drew me in.
I’m a sucker for great friendships within stories, and I was caught off-guard by the relationship between Zahra and her best friend within this novel. I won’t explain too much about it because I think it’s better to go in not knowing, but Zahra had a really good friend who she ended up betraying. The Forbidden Wish is very much about Zahra overcoming her guilt and coming to terms with the end of that friendship. I’m not doing justice to the relationship, but I ended up loving this sub-plot.
And the story slowly lost me over time. I almost gave up in the middle, but I continued reading. The bitter truth of it is that the book’s best part is in the beginning. I also really enjoyed looking back at the book as a whole, but the middle and the end lost its grip on me. I continued because I wanted to see what happened, and it was entirely worth it. The ending ties up nicely (if a little bit cliché?) and it was great to see this cast of characters over time.
All in all, I would recommend. The Forbidden Wish surprised me at every turn with its lovable, diverse cast of personalities and motivations, and I was rooting for the characters through every twist. Zahra’s growth was perfectly executed, and I was thoroughly impressed with how Khoury managed to spin this tale. The only thing I would say is, if you want to read this because if you’re a huge fan of the Disney Aladdin, I wouldn’t go for this one. Or approach with caution, because it’s very different from the original story. 4 stars.
Series: The Forbidden Wish #1fair