BOOK REVIEW: The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury
Hardcover, $17.99 USD
Reviewed by Aly Locatelli
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.
Beautifully written, The Forbidden Wish was humorous, exciting and I adored every character. Jessica Khoury’s Aladdin retelling was everything I was hoping for and more, and she weaved a tale of myths, history, love and betrayal wonderfully.
Zahra has been stuck in her lamp for five hundred years. When Aladdin discovers a ring that leads him directly to the lamp, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot: Zahra pops up, and tells him she will grant him three wishes. He can’t quite believe his luck.
I pour upward through the long dark tunnel of the spout. I am a funnel of smoke, a whirlwind of fire. I open myself and multiply, swelling into a great cloud over the boy’s head. I press a thousand smoky hands against the stone ceiling of the cave. I roll a thousand fiery eyes and stretch a thousand glittering legs. I unfold and unfold and unfold. How good it feels to be out! I crackle with energy and excitement, my blood lightning and my breath thunder.
But like every mere mortal, Aladdin doesn’t realise that Zahra’s powers come with consequences. She’s one of the most powerful genies in existence, but also the most hunted, and the humans aren’t too fond of the magical beings as it is. They’re even less fond of the genie that brought an entire civilisation to its knees, and killed the world’s most beloved queen.
“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?”
Aladdin wants to avenge his family killed by the king; Zahra must get into the royal palace to free the prince of the jinn from the dungeons so that she can be free forever. The two are thrust into an action-packed adventure that is full of humour, danger and desire. Zahra must choose between being free and loving Aladdin, and Aladdin needs to come to terms with what, exactly, he is willing to do in the name of revenge.
What good is it Habiba, to deny the truth? Your friendship woke something in me all those centuries ago, some dormant humanity that had lingered through the years, and after you died, it recoiled and hid again.
But Aladdin has woken it once more. With his sun-bright smile and his laughing eyes and his way of asking the hardest kind of questions. After you, I swore to never love again.
Jessica Khoury wrote a truly beautiful retelling of Aladdin. It has everything one loves of the original Disney film (mainly action and humour), but it is also woven with something original and brilliant, something that made me struggle to put the book down.
“… Even a thief may have honor, and even a jinni may have a heart.”
If you’re a fan of retellings and fantasy, The Forbidden Wish is the book for you!
About the Author: 21. A reader, a writer, a reviewer and a full-time sloth lover. I am addicted to coffee and my laptop, and love reading especially when it's rainy outside.