Book Review: The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury
Number of Pages: 352
Date Published: February 23, 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?
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.
I have no form, I have no name. I am the Slave of the Lamp, and your will is my will. Your wishes are my commands.
Where do I even begin? I’ve loved retellings ever since I read Cruel Beauty and A Thousand Nights, albeit having given the latter a lower rating. I’d readily dive into retellings of any kind, and I’m so glad the Forbidden Wish, a retelling of one of my favorite stories, did not disappoint.
The first thing I really have to commend is the writing style. My goodness gracious, Khoury’s writing simply draws me in. It is descriptive and magical, as if every page is capable of creating some sort of illusion in my head. I was captivated from page one; hardly following the usual reading experience progression of utterly confused to “okay that makes sense” to “I totally get it” to “ holy crap, that is genius.” This one surprisingly started with “I totally get it. Hmm this is good.” and ended with “Damn it. I want my own freaking love story.”
From the blurb, you’d notice that this story is focused on the relationship between Aladdin and his genie, Zarah. Yes, it may come off as weird at first because the girl is a thousand years old, but hey, this is fantasy we’re talking about. If it isn’t obvious yet, yes, folks, this is a love story. However, do not close the tab just yet. I’m happy to announce that although it is not entirely the type of slow-burn that I’d easily devour, it is still free from the instalove most of us hate. Tbh, I was not entirely sold to the romance between the two until I felt (and I mean really felt) the brewing (not to mention forbidden) passion between them. That scene from page 183 had me screaming into my pillow. Oh, yeah. Now you have to check that out. Ha.
No, really. The romance was so good. If this was a crappy insta-love based novel, then these lines would have made me cringe (mild spoiler).
“Have I told you I love you?” he whispers.
I smile. “Not since this morning.”
“Unforgivable. I will tell you every hour of every day.”
“My lady,” says Aladdin, extending an arm toward the sun, “I give you gold as a token of my love.”
“All I want is you,” I reply. I turn and kiss him, pulling him against me, feeling the warmth of the dawn in my hair.
But no. I reacted like any normal shipper would – banging my fists on pillows, lying down while suffocating an innocent plushie, and of course, rereading lines over and over. I know right. WHAT HAPPENED TO ME.
And can we all just stop to think about the glorious power given to Caspida and her watchmaidens. This is girl power at its finest. I love Caspida, and I love how her character has exuded the queenly vibe from the very beginning. Her character is so flawless to me. I remember hating her for a chapter thinking, “sheesh, everything’s going to be ruined,” and then the next time she appeared, I’m bowing thinking “all hail, queen Caspida.” Her watchmaidens are an enigma. I would have wanted more background and development, but there’s only so much we could get from a 300+ paged book. Is it too much to ask for a novella or a spin-off though? That is the question.
Why not give it a perfect rating though?
I’m not so sure myself. I did not feel the villain vibe from Sulifer or Nardukha and did not quite understand the relationship between the two. Darian was so lame; I just want him thrown out of the window from scene 1. Not once did I fear for the main characters’ safety; thinking that they’d get caught sooner or later. I was somehow more afraid of their (Zarah and Aladdin’s) individual actions (i.e. Aladdin blurting out the forbidden wish or Zarah surrendering herself to Nardukha) – situations which are more capable of breaking my heart. My brain always, always suspects a tragic ending for forbidden romances such as this.
Rest assured, it did not follow my deranged thoughts and ended as beautifully as I never would have imagined. Then again, I have the imagination of a cynic so I guess it would have a different effect on romance fans. All in all, the Forbidden Wish was such a delightful read. I could only hope every young adult/romance/fantasy fan would be quick to pick up this gem of a book.
Favorite Quotes from The Forbidden Wish
“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.”
“Nothing is worth betraying someone you love.”
“If you’re not free to love, your’re not free at all.”