The Forbidden Wish has easily became one of my favorite retellings! The narration was captivating that it left me delighted. Here’s my full review on the beautiful Aladdin retelling.
TITLE: The Forbidden Wish
AUTHOR: Jessica Khoury
GENRE: Fantasy, Young Adult, Retellings, Romance
DATE READ: June 7, 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.
A strong and incredible novel that has a beautiful story outside the romance.
First let us appreciate the detailed and wonderful cover! omg! I’ve read it in eBook and I can’t wait to purchase the paperback. (It’s not available in our local bookstore still. Grr rude. )
This book is breathtakingly exquisite and I loved every bits of it. Jessica Khoury has
managed to craft a beautiful retelling of a story that we once knew, the Aladdin but with a twist. What would it be like when the owner of the lamp, falls for the jinni inside it? Jessica has written a story that felt real; The history of how jinnis were made and the old tale of powerful jinn and about wishes that should never be spoken because it’s the worst mistake a jinni could ever make, all felt vividly real.
The story follows a boy name Aladdin who got the lamp in the ruins of the desert. He called out the jinni inside the lamp but to his surprise, it was a girl. Zahra, is an immortal jinni who is about four thousand years old. She was made into a jinni by Nardukha, the King of all the Jinns. And since then, she had been granting wishes for anyone who found the lamp. She has been trapped in the lamp for almost 500 years and has been hidden in the ruins as a punishment for the incident that happened hundred years ago. Aladdin found her and him being her new master, she must stick with him ’til his 3 wishes has been granted. Unexpected twists happened and they faced a much more stronger forces along their way that will determined whether their feelings are worth risking or if their love will stand against the test of time.
Zahra and Aladdin are equally interesting characters and I like the fact that what’s going on between them is not insta love! They slowly grow and they have their own dilemmas to deal with and also there is a beautiful story going on outside the romance. Though this book has a romance-driven story, it offers a deeper and wider aspect of the story line that makes it enticing. It’s not just about enchanting magic and a tale of romance. It’s about heroism and sacrifice for freedom and love and most of all, friendship. It’s about fighting for what you truly want. It’s about having a choice and taking it.
“You can’t choose what happens to you, but you can choose what you become because of it.”
All the elements in this book are well balanced. And I tell you! The girls in this book are all bad ass like Zahra. The characters are well written and have their own special traits that you’ll either love or loathe. The setting is fresh and it’s really picturesque that I can see it in my mind as a vibrant, beautiful and happy place to be in. I really recommend this to anyone. I’m a bit sad that this was a stand alone but even it was one, it felt complete and perfect.
The story opened where a jinni was watching a boy walk around a hall which was once sanctum deep inside the Nerubyan palace. She was narrating the story. But the style is like she is narrating the story to her “habiba” or old friend.
I could picture out this place as an abandoned palace but still recognizable as one. I wasn’t sure at first how a trap went in there but that trap, when stepped by anyone would cause the whole palace to explode. It was later then revealed that the jinni inside the lamp was exiled there by the King of The Jinns for hundreds of years, setting traps to prevent anybody from entering it. Since then, the sanctum was never visited by anybody until this day. Luckily, the boy didn’t fall on the trap and he found the jinni’s lamp on a throne-like chair that used to be the Queens.
The whole country of Parthenia believed that the jinni had caused the Queen’s death. So for hundreds of years, tales and myths resurfaced about a Queen who trusted her Jinn and treated her as a friend but then that Jinn betrayed and killed her. People condemned Zahra and make haunting tales and illustrations about her; Killer/soul eater or worst, a demon.
Aladdin was lead there in the ruins by the enchanting ring he’s been wearing which he had stolen from the prince. For some reason, the ring specifically called Aladdin and took him to this place which is why, the two crossed paths. Like the old tale we know, the owner of the lamp gets three wishes and when he finally finished all three, the jinni would come back inside the lamp and wait for her new master. But their story is no typical, it’s surprising to see the developments of the characters and the unexpected twists that I really didn’t see coming. The forbidden wish that shouldn’t be spoken, because it’s the same wish that ruined the Queen’s life, it’s the same wish that cost an empire.
- Zahra’s Mission
When Aladdin wished to be home after that frightful encounter with Prince Darian, Zahra and Aladdin were taken in an abandoned place and he was badly injured and Zahra was forced to healed him. One night while Aladdin was sleeping, a Ghul came and approached Zahra, I can’t exactly picture out what the Ghul looks like but I think they’re creepy creatures that don’t have a mouth.(**lol**) The Ghul and Zahra talked through something like a telepathy since Zahra mentioned that their kind has some way of communicating through emotions. (**that was cool!**) The Ghul approached offering Zahra a deal which came from the King of Jinnis. Zahra was one of the strongest living Jinnis and she was called the Curl-of-the-Tiger’s-Tail, Smoke-on-the-Wind,Girl-Who-Gives-The-Stars-Away. So much for a title but it was cool, I suddenly remembered Daenerys’ Posthumous Title.
So the deal was if Zahra manages to free the jinni prince who was trapped by humans, the King of the Jinn will grant her total freedom from the lamp. I never, not even once, trusted Nardukha’s words but of course, Zahra wanted to be free so she decided to take risk.
The next day Aladdin said they needed to go but before the could, they need to pass over the walls of Parthenia. But its gate was guarded by glyphs (symbol of Eskarr, language of scorsmoths to bind magic to object) it was put to repel and take away her kind so that they cannot enter. I was astound by how Jessica made stuff like these and they all sound realistic. I was nervous at this part because who wouldn’t be? It’s like trying to pass through a lion’s den. Good thing Zahra was witty, she pretended to be pregnant by conjuring a baby bump on her tummy. Zahra weakened as they pass through the glyph gate but Aladdin aided her, it was quite difficult in Aladdin’s part because he was injured. Nevertheless they managed to get out.
- The Phoenix
One night, Aladdin and Zahra went into a Tavern. In there, they have heard rumors about the phoenix who saves people from disease and free them from prison. The Phoenix is like robinhood in the eyes of the people and the people wore symbols as a sign that they are supporting phoenix. The king is a puppet of Sulfier, who acts haughty as if he’s the king. The people are sick of the monarchs and wanted change and they are clinging into a hope that the Phoenix will lead them. Smells like rebellion! But little they know, the phoenix was none other than Princess Caspida nez Anadredca of Parthenia. She is basically the Jasmine in this story. She moved like whirlwind of sword and she can really kick some ass. The princess disguised as an ordinary warrior in the tavern looking for Aladdin because she believed that Aladdin had stolen something that belongs to her.
Aladdin being a playboy bet on her, took her in the alley thinking she was an ordinary warrior-contestant in the tavern. He even tried to kiss her but he was kidnapped by this girl and her crew. She is the descendant of Queen Roshana Mithraya nez Anadreca. Zahra disguised as a cat after and followed them. Go girl!
Caspida wanted the ring since it belonged to her ancestor Queen. Somehow, Prince Darian got it and the Princes wanted it back to her. She said she was the boss of Xarxos, the one Aladdin worked for and was the one who ordered the ring to be stolen from the prince. She said it belongs to her. But when Alladin asked her whether she had worn the ring before and felt something, she said no. Aladdin then told her that he felt something as if a pull that wanted to take him somewhere, he arrived in the ruins of Amulen but spare the detail of finding a jinni in the lamp. Zahra saw a girl named Nessa and she was holding a flute. She’s a jinn charmer, capable of hypnotizing zahrA’s kind. She has eskarr glyphs to trap them in the bottle. Zahra now gets the vivid idea where the Jinni Prince Zhian is. The Palace.
- Aladdin rai Mustapha as Prince Rahzad rai Asnam
It was Zahra’s idea to make Aladdin as prince. Aladdin expressed his deepest desire on taking revenge on Sulfier and Prince Darian for being the cause of his parents’ death. Being a prince and marrying Princess Caspida is the only ticket to this. Though it was a a heavy decision to make because she didn’t want to use Aladdin to fulfil her mission, but she had no other choice. Aladdin then wished to be prince. This is a nerve-wracking scene because we don’t know how are they going to pull it off. But recalling the disney version I think it’ll be fine.
Zahra conjured a huge ship which is distance from Parthenian Port. She wrecked the ship after to make it look like it had been to a terrible accident. In an instant, Aladdin became a prince, the youngest son of the Shah of Istarya who set out to explore and make his fortune. After a terrible run-in with a tribe of vicious maarids, only he and his servant, the lowly Zahra, survived. They would seek refuge in the king’s court.
Nobody has ever heard of Istarya, but Zahra has glamoured the papers proving Istarya’s existence to make it look like it’s really an existing place. She also glamoured Aladdin’s appearance. The palace was kind of cool actually especially during the part wherein peacocks could roam around the royal hall!
Their whole stay here in the palace was one of the most intense and vital part of the novel. This is where they slowly learned the enemies plan and in here, Zahra also managed to locate Prince Zhian. Every night she shapeshift into different creatures in order to roam around the palace and her shapeshifting ability is really cool. But the lamp has certain perimeter and if she go beyond, she’ll be swallowed back inside the lamp. That was an amazing concept and this made the jinnis’ powers limited.
Zahra also she realized that she’s growing an affection for Aladdin. As Aladdin and Caspida grew closer, Aladdin too felt that he misses Zahra’s presence and he too realized that he has feelings for her. I felt sad for them because they are in a really difficult situation. Their differences is not a typical one but a massive and like a forbidden mountain. Everyone hates the Jinns and Prince Darian has killed many using his Jinn charmers. There is no room for Jinns in this world so what more for their love. Nardukha forbids the jinn to love humans and vice versa for this will lead to their own demise.
- The Forbidden Wish
The battle was waged, while Caspida fights Suriel and his followers, Aladdin and Zahra sets to fight the evil king of the jinns. Throughout reading the book, we probably have heard it from Zahra, the forbidden wish is when a person who owns the lamp wishes for the jinni to be free but in return it would cost his/her life. This happened to Queen Roshana when she tried to free Zahra. Nardukha came and made Zahra kill the Queen using her own hands. And since that, it has been an ill-wish to free a jinni from the lamp because it will end in death. When Aladdin grew feelings for Zahra, it’s obvious that he would make this as his third wish, that is why, Zahra has been constantly avoiding this topic and told Aladdin that it would cost his life. Zahra didn’t want any of this because she believed that anytime, she’ll be free as what Nardukha promised if she managed to save Prince Zhian, and besides. Aladdin should marry Princess Caspida to save her kingdom.
“In sacrificing my own life for Aladdin, I unwittingly triggered the Forbidden wish. the bond between the lamp and jinni is severed.”
Zahra has done something that she had never done before. She made a choice. She sacrifice her life in order to save Aladdin’s. Sacrificing for freedom is the Forbidden Wish. I don’t know how it was possible but the gods somehow grant her a new life but an unending thread of power was also unleashed as she severed ties with her lamp. She had defeated Nardukha hence restoring peace on earth and in Ambadya. I’m not really sure if Zahra became immortal but she certainly is not a jinn anymore.
- Girl Power
The girl power on this novel is quite strong. Caspida is not a feminine type but sh can really kick some ass! Her friends were also bad ass in their own way. Zahra on the other hand is really intelligent. I bet her thousands of years being alive paved the way to get all those knowledge. Her intelligence was shown when she outsmarted Sulfier. He asked for an army that cannot be defeated by any forces from earth and Ambadya, so Zahra made a shadow army. The sun isn’t from the earth itself nor in Ambadya, so shadows can be defeated by the sun meaning the shadow army wouldn’t heed his command ’til its night time. But it’s too late because Caspida already captured him. Smart move! I really admire Jessica for creating bad ass independent women who can stand on their own. I’m tired of reading damsel in distress leads good thing this book is an exception.
Zahra: I really love the characterization of Zahra. She’s inquisitive and she always weigh things before making decisions. I like the fact that she always know how she would react on certain situations. She didn’t care whether the world viewed and depicted her as an evil jinn who’s the cause of the death of Queen Roshana. She didn’t care any of those because deep in her heart, she knew that she really had loved the Queen like her own sister and whatever happened to her, it’s something she never ever wanted. And I’m glad that toward the end of the novel, she put aside her difference from Aladdin and took a risk of loving him.
Aladdin: If Aladdin is in a YA Contemporary, I bet he would be so famous for being a total heartthrob slash playboy. But despite his playboy personality, he has a good heart. Even he had the chance, he still didn’t kill th evil uncle of Caspida. And he truly loved Zahra not just because of her pretty face, but because of her heart. I mean he could have chosen Caspida and settled with her and he knew the cost if he is to be with Zahra but still, he chose her. He’s brave and smart and also a smooth talker.
Caspida: She has a revolutionary heart. She’s like Beatriz Prior or June Iparis and I really like her character. Though there were little moments that I got annoyed with her but in time you’d understand that she’s just doing that to protect her kingdom. I feel like she’s going to be a great Queen too and I think she’s the type of girl who would rule without a king for a long time but still manage to pull it off. I really didn’t see her as part of the love triangle because she never really liked Aladdin romantically.
Darian: He reminds me of Gaston in Beauty and The Beast; self-preserved and arrogant human being! But like most evil prince, he is under the wing of his father and cannot make decisions for himself. Grr
There is no on going insta love in this one! Aladdin and Zahra didn’t fall for each other that quick. They become friends and slowly realized the hidden feelings they have. Their chemistry is undeniably strong. One of my favorite moments of them is when Zahra is teaching Aladdin how to dance for the festival. I really blushed on that scene because they both know they have feelings for each other but still distance themselves because they know where they stood. But little they know, the more they distance themselves with each other, the closer their hearts are.
What I admire the most about Jessica Khoury is that she’s an effin’ good narrator. Zahra’s POV is on point and the whole story is vivid in our minds. The way she created the tales about the Jinn, the way she crafted the character and the way she presented the world building, it’s all so enticing and creative. I love the balance because like I’ve said, this book is a bit romancey but it sure do have lots of interesting things going aside from the romance. Though this is a retelling, it doesn’t feel like one. And even this is a standalone, she had managed to answered all the lingering questions the readers have in the beginning. There are not much loopholes and I also love the fact that we have two villains. My only complain is that Suriel was easily defeated but it is given I guess because the real major villain is Nardukha. And I also want to see more of Caspida as a Phoenix, (how about a novella Ms . Jessica? hihi) She has crafted this world and made it gigantic despite being only 300 + pages. It’s really amazing and I’m quite excited with her future works.
This is my cup of tea! One of the best retellings I’ve read so far. I highly recommend it even to those who are not a fan a retellings. Because this book is unique and it will really make you rethink your life’s wishes. This book will make you fall in love and if I could date a book, I would date this one. ❤
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE FAIRY TALE RETELLING? LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW 🙂