The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury was last month’s book club book of the month. A retelling of Aladdin, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Aladdin has always been a favorite Disney movie and fairy tale (the original is awesome), and this was an interesting spin on the beloved story.
I’ve mentioned in the videos on my YouTube channel that Aladdin fell in love with the genie, Zahra, instead of the princess (named Caspida in this retelling). That’s what intrigued me the most about this novel.
Khoury’s writing is beautiful. The novel, as Sarah J. Maas puts it, is “lush, romantic, and exquisitely written.” Told in first person through Zahra’s point of view, it is as though she is writing it almost as a letter to Roshana, one of her dear friends. If you enjoy different writing styles, this is definitely a book for you.
Zahra was an interesting character. She had a tortured past, and was reluctant to admit her feelings for Aladdin. I did like her, but I had a hard time relating to her- not that everyone relates to every character. As for Aladdin, he’s not one I developed a crush on (*gasp*). He was funny and bright, but let’s just say I’m not overly fond of thieves. All in all, the characters were interesting but not my favorite.
The setting was probably my favorite thing about this book. Ever since Roshani Chokshi’s The Star-Touched Queen, I have been infatuated with Arab-style worlds (even if TSQ was Indian), and this book had a lovely Arab setting. I think I like the way the food is described, honestly. I have a thing for exotic food. But anyway, the world-building was wonderful.
The romance was also very well done. I loved how reluctant both Aladdin and Zahra were to fall in love, which is always nice for the reader (maybe not the characters).
If you like Aladdin, retellings in general, fantasy, and/or romance, pick this up. You’ll enjoy it.
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P.S. The book club book this month (December) is What Light by Jay Asher.