Review: The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

The Forbidden Wish Jessica Khoury
The Forbidden Wish Jessica Khoury

Title: The Forbidden Wish
Author: Jessica Khoury
Series: Stand-alone
Genre: Retelling, Fantasy, YA
Publication date: February 23, 2016
Rating: ★★★½

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.

Wishes have a way of twisting themselves, and there is nothing more dangerous than getting your heart's desire. The question is, are you willing to gamble? How much are you willing to lose? What are you willing to risk everything for?

Basically this is how my reading process went:

1. *Picks up book excitedly*

2. *Reads two sentences* PRESENT TENSE? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? *Tries reading two more lines, then gives up*

3. *Starts ACOMAF, rushes through it and completely loses mind*

4. *Gets into two week book hangover*

5. *Decides to give The Forbidden Wish another try, suspiciously picks it up and… falls asleep*

6. *Tries again the next day because really wants to finish even if it is bad, makes it to chapter two and realizes TFW actually makes for a really good and compelling story*

7. *Reads until the end and loves it*

After trying two times and giving up, my expectations for The Forbidden Wish were very low and maybe that’s why it so positively surprised me! It was good and I recommend this to everyone who loves fairy tale retellings!

The book creates the perfect atmosphere of Arabian - A Thousand and One Nights. It’s enchanting, magical, mysterious and full of blossoming romance. The characters were bright, the writing vivid and the overall feeling was that of a magic carpet ride. In short it was: shining, shimmering, splendid.

We are adrift on a sea of moonlight sand, the silence as infinite as the space between the stars.

If there’s one thing that stands out, it’s the character of Zhara. She is one of the most powerful Jinni in the world, but she has been trapped in the lamp for thousands of years. Her power is restricted and her life reduced to that of merely a servant. Once loved by many, she now wakes up in a world were Jinni are hated and feared.

First of all I loved that she was a girl. That this was not the story of the Thief and the Princess, but that of the Thief and the Jinni. Zahra was a great character. Fierce and alive, but full of longing for the past and melancholia. I loved that she was the one telling this story because she had a peculiar view on the world, constantly balancing the present, future and past. She was cold on the outside, but kind inside and constantly struggling against the force that forbade her to love those she wanted – all the while fighting for freedom and justice. Her hopes and dreams are unreachable but she never quits trying.

Time has a different meaning for me, and these events that seem so monumental in the moment will one day be nothing more than a line in a scroll. These humans are but letters to be inked into history. A hundred years from now, I will be free. I will have forgotten their names and faces, and the struggles they have will not matter. Time has a way of burying things, shifting like the desert and swallowing entire civilizations, erasing them from map and memory. Always, in the end, everything returns to dust.

Aladdin was a lot like the Aladdin from the movie. A brave, reckless, lucky thief with a heart as big as gold and the ability to turn every possible situation in his favour. His charm and appearance melt every female heart and yet there’s a certain trueness and honesty to him that gives him vulnerability.

Even a thief may have honor, and even a jinni may have a heart.

There is also princess Caspida and her Watchmaidens and even though I did love her, I also thought her character wasn’t explored as well as it could have been. She felt a bit flat and predictable. The idea of her was great, but she missed depth and creativity. I loved that she had a secret identity as the Phoenix, but none of that was developed thoroughly enough either. It could have been a lot more complex.

"There is only one thing more numerous than the stars,” I say, looking up to the heavens. “And that is the darkness that holds them."

But basically this book has a stunning cover, a magical atmosphere, a well-built world and loveable characters. So what didn’t work for me? Three things, really.

Mainly the finale. It just felt.. cheap. I predicted everything that happened and not because I had seen Aladdin The (Disney) Movie. This was very uncreative, even for a retelling. It could have been a bit more complex, less obvious. The finale would have benefited from more depth too, and maybe a slower pacing because the rushing made everything even more unbelievable. So that was a big one.

And then – but I guess this is something personal – I absolutely hate ‘grand’ love declarations. You see them all the time in movies, you read about them all the time in books and every. single. time. I roll my eyes and am glad I’m not the girl in the story. Because instead of being swept of my feet, I’d be horribly embarrassed. I can’t grasp why you would wait to tell someone you want to be with her until you have to ‘declare’ yourself in front of a million other people when it would mean so much  more when you’d tell her in a quit, more true and honest way. But as I said, that’s probably just me.

And then I obviously also didn't like the fact that it was written in present tense.

Because happiness itself is a mythical construct, a dream you humans tell yourselves to get through each day. It is the moon, and you, like the sun, pursue it relentlessly, chasing it around and around, getting nowhere.

Overall this was a really enjoyable story and you will not regret reading it!

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