Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:
Synopsis for The Forbidden Wish (from Goodreads):
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.
Author: Jessica Khoury
There is a prequel novella on Wattpad: #0.5 The Jinni
Genre: Young Adult, Retelling, Romance, Magic
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: February 2013
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook
Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:
My all time favourite Disney movie is Aladdin. The music is great, the animation is superb, the Genie is one of a kind, Jasmine is kickass and Aladdin is a street rat who grows up along the way. So I was very excited for a retellling where things were a little different than that.
The Concept / The World:
So before I start any retelling of a story that has been done by Disney I try my best to clear all my preconceived notions. It’s easy to forget that the Disney version isn’t always the “true” version because it usually the most well known. Disney has taken some artistic licence to great a story to appeal to its audience and that’s what authors do too.
I liked this world we get here a lot. It’s rich in politics and turmoil. You’ve got some villains and magic so that gives a bit of a darker edge to the story. Jessica Khoury’s writing prose is lush and has a great flow (honestly, if you like Renee Ahdied’s writing you’ll love hers!) so it’s a pleasure to read (or in my case, listen to).
I really enjoyed the rich history of the Jinni and the everyday people. And Zahra’s backstory was also great.
I’ll admit I probably wasn’t in the best headspace when I started this book so I might have just missed some key sentences while listening to the audiobook. BUT, some of the logic for the dramatic events escaped me so I had a hard time fully understanding what was happening and why.
I will say that all of the events that I thought would be “big deals” didn’t have as large of an impact as I expected but perhaps my focus was on the wrong devices.
While I enjoyed Zahra’s lush history as a Jinni, I found her to be kinda bland as a character. I know why–she’s been trapped in her lamp for centuries, lamenting over past mistakes–but I still wanted a larger than life character.
Aladdin was about as thrilling as a wet blanket and had the personality of one too. I found him to be super underdeveloped and shallow. Not the charming clever street rat I wanted him to be.
Caspida really stole the show for me. I could have easily read a whole book about her, she was fascinating!
People (other readers) rave about this but I was seriously underwhelmed. Besides a physical attraction and being within a certain radius of each other (seriously, while Aladdin had her lamp, Zahra couldn’t be a specific distance away from him) I didn’t get the love between these two at all! Not even the forbidden nature of a jinni and a human could get me interested.
When to Read The Novella?
I didn’t read the novella but it is noted that there are some minor spoilers in it if you do decide to read it first. So perhaps, read it second.
My Rating: 2/5
Leave your ideas at the door and go in with a fresh mind.
Read if You Like: retellings, magic
Avoid if You: want a stronger romance
- The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh (The Wrath and the Dawn #1)