A Review of The Forbidden Wish, by Jessica Khoury

The Forbidden Wish

The Forbidden Wish

Goodreads Rating: 4.07 Stars
352 Pages
Razorbill Publishing
Get a copy here!

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.

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Quick Reasons: an inventive retelling…with a slight character twist; THIS is the story of Aladdin I’ve been dying to read for years (without knowing it, of course); awesome, emotionally-charged action and a heady, over-the-moon sort of love; poetic, beautiful prose; so many twists and creative additions to genie/jinn lore; I LOVED this book!

And mahGOSH, is the cover absolutely stunning. Go ahead—go stare at it for five minutes. I totally give you permission. Heck, you can drool a little if you want; I won’t tell anyone.

“I know that look.”

“What look?”

“Don’t sweat it, sister. We’ve all had it.” She sighs. “The girls he loved and left.”

Irritably, I look away. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Sure you don’t.” Dal smiles sadly. “You can either hate him or accept that that’s just who he is. When Aladdin sets his heart on something— or someone— nothing can stop him from getting it. And when he does have it, he realizes it’s not what he wanted after all, and then something else will catch his eye, and off he goes again. Over and over. And here we are, the casualties.”

“I’m nobody’s casualty.”

The prose is poetic—soft and smoky, a hint of roses and something ancient, a forgotten magic, blending with the words. Jessica Khoury knows how to weave her words with the fairy tales of old…and yet, somehow, make the story entirely her own. I will admit: I was hesitant going in to this read. I’ve been a bit disappointed with recent “hyped” books…and I was worried this would become the next one to let me down. Thankfully, I was much mistaken—this book is gorgeous, inside and out.

The action scenes are well-written, filled with dramatics and flair…and enough to make a reader long to pull their hair out in anxiety or frustration. I was surprised how quickly I formed attachments to these characters; despite having grown up adoring Aladdin (the Disney version, of course), I wasn’t sure that partiality would journey to book-form. There are also some steamy, heart-melting love scenes; some gorgeously-done girl-power scenes; some fight-to-the-death scenes. In all honesty, there’s a little bit of something for every type of reader.

“Love is a path lined with roses,” I say bitterly. “But it leads to a cliff’s edge, and all who follow it tumble to their doom. You will not find your happiness there.”

The characters are just the perfect blend of realistic, fantastical, and snarky-daggers. I particularly enjoyed Zahra and Aladdin’s back-and-forth relationship. However—while a large portion of this read does revolve around love—it’s not romantic love that gets the main focus. Instead, girl-power and the love of best friends takes main stage—which I absolutely ADORED. Yes, there is romantic love…but it sort of falls by the wayside and lets the rest of this book shine on its own. It was a great breath of fresh air for me, given how often YA harps on about romance.

The chapters are also broken up, now and then, with “fairy tale” snippets. This helped not only to shape and mold Zahra as we grew to know her throughout the read…but also the world surrounding her, and Aladdin. Without these morsels, the story might have come off a bit confusing, the transitions awkward. Instead, Jessica Khoury found a way to work in the backstory without making it obvious that’s what she was doing. And everything—and I mean EVERYTHING—comes full circle at the end, even the smallest things, the things we never thought to think twice about.

I lift my eyes, above it all, and see the one weaving the stars. Imohel, the God of Gods. He smiles and pauses briefly to touch a finger to the center of my forehead, and at his touch, I fall.

Fall through the stars.

Through time.

Through light and wind and fire.

Through smoke and a sky gray like ashes.

I just… I absolutely adored this read. The prose is breath-taking, the cover is stunning, the characters and the focus on best friends over romance is so well-done… I can’t find enough words to tell you how much I love this book. I highly recommend this to lovers of Aladdin, fairy tale retellings, and girl-power. I feel everyone can find something to love in this read, so if you’ve been thinking about picking it up, you totally should! Instant favorite.