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?
I remember finishing this book in the wee hours of the morning, and I rolled over in my bed and I just… happy sighed.
The Forbidden Wish made my heart swell; swell from its romance, its enchanting world, and the feeling of absolute wonder that this book evoked. It is a gorgeous retelling of Aladdin, but with a twist: the genie/jinni is a girl. Although the story is based on another, The Forbidden Wish manages to be an entirely different and unique story that is captivating from start to finish.
Wishes are born in the will of men and women, and it is true and pure source of power all humans hold.
This book is made of pure wonder and magicdust. Perhaps it was the beautiful writing or the inherently hopeful nature of the book, but The Forbidden Wish evoked feelings of awe and appreciation for the good and magical things in life. True, this book is filled with magic and shapeshifting and wishes coming true, but The Forbidden Wish also draws attention to the more mundane magic in life – namely, friendship, love, freedom, and the power of one’s will. The storytelling was beautiful, and the story was a perfect blend of melancholia and a daring hope.
One of the most significant differences between Aladdin and The Forbidden Wish is that this is not a story about Aladdin. No, this is a story about the Zahra, a powerful, proud, and intelligent jinni, and nothing short of awe-inspiring. Told from her perspective, her narrative is immediately compelling, magical, and addictive with its slight tinge of mystery. Khoury has created a wonderfully complex character that had a multitude of strengths but was also vulnerable and had flaws, dispelling the idea that a jinni is free of imperfections despite being formidable. Zahra’s narration was filled with so many emotions – bitterness, love, regret, tenderness, melancholy, weariness, nostalgia – and was such a pleasure to read.
Even a thief may have honour, and a jinni may have a heart.
At its heart, The Forbidden Wish is a romance, but it does not sideline the book’s other elements. And though The Forbidden Wish explores a variety of ideas, perhaps the thing that stole my heart was its exquisite female characters. There were women who were strong, women who made mistakes, women who were just, women who were trying to do what was right – all excellently written and all I could empathize with. More so, the story places great emphasis on the special and intimate bond between two sisters and friends, and the power they have to shape, influence, and inspire. This shines through in the friendship between Zahra and her mysterious ‘Habiba’, and Princess Caspida and her deadly handmaidens.
What can I say? The Forbidden Wish is an utterly enchanting book full of pleasant surprises, love, and beauty. I enjoyed it immensely – for its refreshing angle on Aladdin, its fantastic storytelling, and its unforgettable characters. Recommended for those who love retellings, empowering women and female relationships, and a good ol’ love story.
Book Name: The Forbidden Wish
Author: Jessica Khoury
Friends, The Forbidden Wish is a retelling I adore and absolutely loved! Aladdin was one of my favourite Disney movies growing up, so I was so pleased with the fresh narration of this book.
- Have you read The Forbidden Wish? What did you think? Did you like it? 😊
- What are some of your favourite retellings? Do you have any recommendations?
- What do you think of a female genie/jinni? Yay or nay?