Review: The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

My Thoughts

Wonderfully romantic, imaginative, lush and bright.
A must-read twist on the Aladdin story we all know and love.

4halfstars

Synopsis

The Forbidden WishShe 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.

My Review

Jessica Khoury re-imagines the story of Aladdin with a bright, lush and spellbinding tale of forbidden romance. It’s a story of friendship, sacrifice, love and an inescapable longing to be unshackled from a past which only brought regret. From the sands of the Mahali Desert to the cobbled streets of Parthenia, Khoury draws us into the story of Zahra, jinni of the lamp.

“For the first time in centuries, I stir. I am smoke in the lamp, and I curl and stretch, shaking off the lethargy of five hundred years. I feel I have half turned to stone. The sound of his footstep rattles me like a clap of thunder, and I bolt fully awake.”

For over 500 years, Zahra has been forgotten in a cave dripping with magic after she betrayed both her kind, and her closest friend. She helped destroy a kingdom in a way that’s now cemented in lore, sung in verse. We don’t know exactly what happened, but quickly we learn there is more to the story than meets the eye as Zahra continues to grieve for her friend whom she calls Habiba.

But when a magical ring leads a thief to unearth the magical lamp, Zahra awakens to a new master. Zahra and Aladdin are quickly thrust into necessary escape as the son of Vizier hunts down Aladdin to take back both the ring and the lamp.

As these two fugitives run from peril, they get to know each other in a way Zahra never expected. The story unravels through Zahra’s eyes—a first-person narrative that made the story feel fresh and flipped. We see how Zahra longs for freedom and connection despite knowing that her desires are strictly forbidden. She learned that lesson long ago.

“Freedom. It’s a dream I never dared to dream.”

Soon, however, Zahra is offered a deal impossible to refuse when freedom is suddenly in her reach. She must convince Aladdin to marry the princess while she carries out her plan.

“I’m a very good jinni, and that’s a very bad thing.”

The trouble is, best laid plans are often disrupted when the heart comes into play and it’s clear Aladdin has fallen for Zahra, just as Zahra has fallen for him. She thinks she has no heart to give, he thinks he has no resolve to fight for what’s important, but first, they must find a way to defeat the power esurient Vizier before they choose their fate, especially as history unexpectedly repeats itself.

“He is the sun and I am the moon. We must stay apart or the world will be thrown out of balance.”

I loved everything about this book. The lyrical writing, the story, the slow burn romance. It was immersive and vivid, full of magic and intrigue. You’ll be drawn in from the very first page and you’ll be wanting more as soon as you’re done. A must read.

“Loving someone is never wrong… It’s not a choice. It just happens, and we’re all helpless in its power.”

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