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The Forbidden Wish

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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.

352 pages, Hardcover

First published February 23, 2016

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About the author

Jessica Khoury

27 books2,432 followers
Jessica Khoury wrote her first book at age 4, a fan fic sequel to Syd Hoff's Danny and the Dinosaur, which she scribbled on notebook paper, stapled together, and placed on the bookshelf of her preschool classroom. Since that day, she's dreamed of being an author.

When not writing, Jess enjoys spending time with family, playing video games, and oil and watercolor painting. She is also a professional mapmaker, and spends far too much time scribbling tiny trees and mountains for fictional worlds.

Jess currently lives in Greenville, South Carolina. She is the author of the Corpus trilogy, The Forbidden Wish, Last of Her Name, and The Mystwick School of Musicraft.

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Profile Image for Emily May.
1,962 reviews293k followers
March 6, 2016
"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?”

I had a lot of doubts going into The Forbidden Wish. Yet another YA retelling? Yet another YA romance? But I should never have doubted my trusted Goodreads friends because there is nothing typical about this book.

Firstly, it is very romancey. Let's get that out of the way. Normally I don't like my books so heavily romantic, but maybe that's just because they are so seldom done well and generally sacrifice character development and plot for sweet nothings. Maybe it's because, in my opinion, the best romances are the ones in books that are not really about romance at all.

You see, I never felt like the ultimate purpose of this story was to get Zahra and Aladdin together but, maybe as a result of that, I ended up wanting it anyway.

Now let's break down all the great things about this book.

The writing is so gorgeous it literally gave me goosebumps. Khoury describes this world of deserts, palaces and magic in lavish, beautiful detail. Rarely do authors paint pictures of their setting so well. I could picture it exactly and even feel the sense of magic in the air. A truly evocative use of words.

Girl power. You know this story, right? At the very least, we've probably all seen the Disney version. It's the one about a street thief-turned-prince, a clueless sultan, an evil vizier, a male genie, and a humorous parrot (also male). There is a woman in the movie, and she's... won by the street thief-turned-prince who "shows her the world". Even this watered down 1992 version isn't exactly what you'd call feminist.

The Forbidden Wish, however, is. For one, the jinni is female - a powerful, smart and badass jinni who takes shit from nobody, but is still flawed, lonely and sad. The princess is feisty and strong-minded, as is her band of tough girlfriends who are also great warriors.

And, best of all, these girls are not enemies. They grow in strength when they come together and support one another. No petty slut-shaming or woman-hating. From the jinni to the mortal women, there is a mutual respect and admiration. So many authors could learn from this book.

Then there's the romance. I honestly enjoyed it, even though I didn't start shipping until about halfway through. Aladdin is likable, probably made even more so by his weaknesses for alcohol and petty crime. He's imperfect, boyish, and an impossible flirt, but these qualities are really quite adorable. Also: absolutely no instalove.

And we also have the story outside the romance. It's an old tale of powerful jinn, wishes that should never be spoken, and the worst mistake a jinni can ever make. It takes place in both the past and the present, unveiling Zahra's story at the same time as she fights for her freedom in the present. Can she ever win her freedom? And what price will she have to pay for it?

I especially loved the way Zahra narrates the story, constantly addressing "Habiba", whose story is gradually revealed over the course of the novel. It adds another layer, and leaves us with some final touching moments.

Such a strong, incredible novel. I have to warn you unromantics about the heavy romantic element, and yet it feels a shame to label this complex and powerful story a "romance". It's so many other things too.

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February 24, 2016
I am not allowed to hope. I am forbidden a wish of my own. And so I will not think of the world above, of the open sky, of the fresh air and the light of day.

I will be lost, a myth, a dream. Trapped forever with myself in this prison of sand and magic. I cannot imagine a more terrifying doom. I thought I had resigned myself to this fate long ago, when it seemed no one would ever find me. Now I know this to be untrue, and that hope has pulsed deep within me like a dormant seed, waiting to flourish at the first sign of escape.
Holy smokes, this was great!

This book is a retelling of Aladdin in which the genie is a girl. To be honest, there is very little resembling Aladdin here, with the exception of the genie and Aladdin himself. Despite that, I found myself greatly enjoying thsi book. There's romance, yes, but I did not find it overwhelming. There's also incredibly vivid writing, really, the writing is awesome, there's unexpected moments of humor...
“You’re a—you’re a—”

Say it, boy. Demon of fire. Monster of smoke. Devil of sand and ash. Servant of Nardukha, Daughter of Ambadya, the Nameless, the Faceless, the Limitless. Slave of the Lamp. Jinni.

“. . . a girl!” he finishes.

For a second, I can only blink at him
Heehee. And the genie herself is pretty bad-ass.

Zahra is a jinni. She has been trapped in the desert sands for 500 years, desolate, alone, and haunted by past memories of her last master. Zahra has almost lost hope of seeing the outside world again, when a boy named Aladdin appears and summons her from the lamp. They're not exactly friends from the start.
“I’ve heard the stories,” he says. “I’ve heard the songs. They call you the Fair Betrayer, who enchanted humans with your . . .” He pauses to swallow. “Your beauty. You promised them everything, and then you ruined them.”

A thousand and one replies vie for my tongue, but I swallow them all, bury them deep, deep in my smoky heart.

Letting out a long breath, I shrug one shoulder. “So what now? Will you toss me away? Bury me again?”

He laughs, a cold, sharp laugh. “Throw you away? When you can grant me three wishes? Would I throw away a bag of gold just because I found it in a pile of dung?”
That's where the similarities to Aladdin ends.

I really liked Zahra. She is powerful, but vulnerable. From the beginning, we know she suffers with regret over a girl, a "sister." Over the course of the book, we uncover her story; Zahra constantly remembers this "Habiba," addressing her directly in her memories, and it's a constant guessing game as to what transpired that haunts her so much, that fills her with so much sorrow.

I found her actions realistic. She may be powerful, but she is still trapped by who she is. Zahra cannot go far from Aladdin without suffering greatly, bound by her curse. The whole "betraying Aladdin and gaining her freedom" thing isn't the stupid romance-centric excuse it seems. Her reasons for hesitation is quite valid, and her feelings towards freedom is complex.
For the first time I think about what comes after I win my freedom. For so long that’s been my single goal, but what happens next? Do I return to Ambadya, where they hate me? Do I stay in the human world, where they would destroy me if they knew what I was? I have nowhere to go to and no one to spend my freedom with, and for the first time I begin to wonder if that’s really freedom at all, or if I’m exchanging one prison for another.
Aladdin is no longer a Disney prince. He is a charmer, at times a drunkard. He burns for revenge, yet is aware of his own weakness in obtaining it. He charms everyone with a vagina, and is an inveterate flirt. Yet I never found myself hating him. He's not an asshole. He's just who he is.
“Zahra, if I wished for someone to die, could you do it?”

Outwardly, I am stone, but inside I rock like a stormy sea. I loathe this wish more than almost any other. It is cruel and cowardly, and I reevaluate this boy thief. There is a darkness in him I hadn’t seen.
I also liked the fact that there are other female characters in this book! Such a thing is a rarity in YA fiction.

This book can be confusing. There are a lot of names to keep track of, and I wish that Zahra had more strength in her, but overall, this was a highly enjoyable book.

Read this review and more @ The Book Eaters
Profile Image for jessica.
2,533 reviews32.3k followers
September 6, 2019
this is better than the original story of aladdin and im not even sorry that i think this.

this is just so well-balanced between creating a fresh new story with also having the subtle echoes of something familiar. and each new and original additional to the old tale is just so vibrant, that it totally outshines everything i thought i knew about the original story.

although, i have come to the conclusion that i can read anything related to arabian nights and i will absolutely adore it. i desperately hope khoury decides to continue the story with sinbad!

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Jessica Khoury.
Author 27 books2,432 followers
November 8, 2015
THE FORBIDDEN WISH is a story that has been tugging at me for years, and I'm overjoyed and honored to finally be sharing it with you at last. When Zahra first came to me, demanding that her side of the story be told, I was immediately entranced. I think the genie is the most fascinating character of the Aladdin fairytale. But what if the genie were a girl? What if there were more to her story? These questions became my obsession, and Zahra's voice was so strong in my mind that often, while working on other books over the past few years, I would sneak away to write a few pages just for her. She was a character who simply refused to be ignored, and I'm so glad she didn't give up on me!

The stories of Aladdin and the Thousand and One Nights have always been some of my favorites. Plus, my grandfather has been begging me for years to write a story inspired by his homeland, so Papa--this one is for you! I have immensely enjoyed writing this book and reliving the story of Aladdin through Zahra's eyes, and I hope you will love reading it as much as I did writing it.

And of course, may all your wishes come true. <3
Profile Image for Cece ❀Rants, Raves &Reviews❀.
250 reviews928 followers
February 7, 2023
A powerful jinni and a boy from the streets- let the chaos begin.

Seriously how the fuck could you not want to read this book?? This shit has everything! The general premise is there's this huge human vs jinn war, female assassins, AND a powerstruggle in the kingdom

It all begins when Aladdin finds Zahra's lamp...and it all basically goes downhill from there
"I sense the boy the moment he sets foot in the cave. For the first time in centuries, I stir. I am smoke in the lamp, and I curl and stretch, shaking off the lethargy of five hundred years."


Can you imagine being stuck in total darkness in a traumatizing place full of painful memories then finally returning to the world...to find out magic is forbidden and her very existence is illegal. Fucking A.

I'll be honest Zahra's POV totally blew me away. This is a genie who has lived for thousands of years so obviously, she needs to have the maturity to go with that.

I was worried because this is a YA novel so she would've acted like a typical YA heroine circa 17 years old. NOPE, not today Satan!

The book perfectly balanced her personality, age, and her past lives and oh god Zahra i love you
“Get control of yourself, Zahra!
My name isn’t Zahra. I am Smoke-on-the-Wind, Curl-of-the-Tiger’s-Tail, Girl-Who-Gives-the-Stars-Away.
He loves you!
He is just a mortal. Just a boy, a moment in time that will soon pass.
His name is Aladdin.
I have known a thousand and one like him. I will know a thousand and one more. He is nothing.
He is everything. ”
It literally broke my fucking heart how beautiful this writing was.

The writing and world-building was amazing...and I totally acknowledge I have always loved the beauty and mystery of Arabian mythology. So the background of the whole forbidden magic paired so perfectly with the book's plot focus on Aladdin and Zhara's schemes where their banter added a hilarious as fuck comedic element to boot!
“You’re a—you’re a—”
Say it, boy. Demon of fire. Monster of smoke. Devil of sand and ash. Servant of Nardukha, Daughter of Ambadya, the Nameless, the Faceless, the Limitless. Slave of the Lamp. Jinni.
“. . . a girl!” he finishes.
For a second, I can only blink at him"


I also loved the idea of a king genie who just imprisons people he hates. That's just so savage and it has an evil person with a genuine vengeance... not just an fairy queen who fucks around with people *just saying*

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

Just beautiful, intriguing writing. For being YA, I couldn't' really tell it was YA with its colorful characters and plot. Sure it would've been nice if more adult romance which I really love, but whatever.

My main complaint was the whole real "villain" and the ending- the fight was a little underwhelming and I was hoping for a more complex resolution. Eh.


but then... BuT tHen....
“Right. Galley. Got it. I’ll ask the captain. What was his name?”
“Sinbad, I think?”
My only regret is that the book had A SUBTLE REFERENCE TO ONE OF MY FAVORITE LEGENDS MOTHERFUCKINGI PIRATE LEGEND SINBAD BUT THERES NO SECOND BOOK IN SIGHT!!! Could've been so epic man *shaking my fucking head*


Overall a strong 4 star, I was hooked from the beginning. The emotions, battles, and plot twists were well done and not too obvious which can be a struggle in most YA novels. The balance of history and world-building really kept this book from flatlining and the character relationships developed throughout the story. I really love me some genie shit, and this is a perfect example of how it can be done in a unique amazing way.
Profile Image for Navessa.
Author 10 books7,510 followers
April 15, 2018
"We are adrift on a sea of moonlight sand, the silence as infinite as the space between the stars."

Well, well, well. This is one beautifully written fairy tale retelling.

Imagine the story of Aladdin. Now change the sex of the jinni who serves him, add in some supernatural politics, some courtly intrigue, a handful of badass female warriors, two peoples on the brink of war, and you basically have this book in a nutshell.

Was it perfect? No. I definitely had some issues with it. But now that I've finished it and am staring down at my notes, I can honestly say that I don't even want to get into them, because, in the end, they took very little away from my overall enjoyment of this.

And doesn't that say everything?

In short: this is a stunningly written, highly captivating, intoxicating blend of romance, mysticism, adventure, and intrigue.

I highly suggest it for anyone in the mood for a YA fairy tale retelling.

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Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
838 reviews3,754 followers
February 15, 2021

BR with the astounding Chelsea and Jen

"This place is haunted by ghosts, and I am one of them."

Told in a beautiful and evocative writing enhanced with sparks of humor, The Forbidden Wish surprised me in the best way possible : indeed albeit being quite romance-focused, it manages to avoid the tropes I hate the most in Fantasy/PNR YA :

☑ There's neither instalove nor love triangle.(*)
☑ The female lead is always sympathetic toward other women and there's no such thing as girl hate.
☑ Aladdin's not perfect by any means (more about him later), but one thing is certain : he's not a controlling, abusing jerk, and if anything his flaws made him endearing to me.

"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?"

Enchanting, The Forbidden Wish is not an action packed novel, but not a boring one either. As a retelling of Aladdin's story, we find layers of the original but that does not mean that Jessica Khoury didn't add her stamp, because she most definitely did. While original events are seen in a complete different way , the twists make the story even more engaging and captivating (and women friendly). If the plot isn't the most complex I ever read (hardly), I was hooked from the beginning and I enjoyed my read immensely.

Moreover, contrary to what we find in many retellings, the author made her jinni female and let me tell you : it was FANTASTIC. Oh, and funny :

"You're a- you're a-
Say it, boy. Demon of fire. Monster of smoke. Devil of sand and ash. Servant of Nardukha, Daughter of Ambadya, the Nameless, the Faceless, the Limitless. Slave of the Lamp. Jinni.
"... a girl! he finishes.
For a second, I can only blink at him, but I recover quickly."

Ha, Zahra. I loved her. Witty and self-sufficient, she never comes as pretentious and yet, she knows her worth - She's a jinni, thank you very much, and she actually sounds like one, which is so rare! Brought to life by Aladdin after a looooong traversée du désert (pun intended), she's ready to grant his wishes but doesn't forget her own agenda (her freedom, no less!).

However, despite her hidden goal, Zahra has been eaten by guilt for so long that she has doubts, and who wouldn't? Trust me, this is NOT a case of "his abs convinced me to die for him, because YUM, can I lick them?". Nope. Her struggles and hesitations are well-founded, and not driven by Aladdin alone. See, I realize more and more that strong heroines, if they never fail, never doubt, never waver, annoy me as much as their manly counterparts. I want strong heroines in my books, but I want them complex and realistic. What's strength, really? Is it never hesitating? I don't think so, and honestly, I sure hope not. I could relate to Zahra, and she never annoyed me - she's not a heartless cyborg, and I liked her all the more for it.

As for Aladdin... I may be biased, but his character made me smile so much that I couldn't hold his flaws against him. Yes, he is reckless, charming, flirty, but so endearing, loyal, and more than a little adorable. His past haunts him, and there's a need for revenge starving deep within him. Their personalities, so different as they are, make for the funniest interactions and I absolutely loved how their dynamics played throughout the book.

"What did Caspida want?"
"To talk about elephants and dead queens."
"What? Really?"
"Oh, stop frowning. She asked about you too - what you're like, what kind of person you are. Don't worry." I pat his hand conspiratorially and smile. "I lied."

As I said earlier, although the romance owns an important part of the show, it never bothered me (on the contrary) because what we see isn't a stupid and very tropey instalove but the slow and believable growth of a friendship which perhaps, perhaps, will morph into something more. And trust me, I rooted for them something fierce. So, yeah, I fought the urge to roll my eyes at some cheesy similes, but I never stopped smiling - it does change something!

"We're in together, aren't we, Smoky?" He gives me a crooked, bemused smile.
"But... you're the Lampholder. Whatever you say goes. I don't have a choice."
He laughs, and I frown at him in surprise. "You think it's funny?" I ask.
"No! Sorry. I should probably say how awful it is you have to go wherever I want, but... When I look at you, I see a jinni who's not afraid to disagree with me. If I make a wish, you could use it to crush me. You've done it before, haven't you? Ruined your masters with their own wishes?"
I lift a shoulder in begrudging agreement."

Last but not least, Jessica Khoury offers significant roles for other women. Now, this is so fucking rare : not only Zahra never shows any hateful spite against other women, but they play important roles in the story (and roles that aren't defined by their relationships with men).

That ending, though? I have to admit that it did feel a little rushed and that I wish some parts had played out differently but it was satisfying nonetheless.

(*) I am sure that some readers will state that there is a love triangle, but for me there's really not. How many characters love each others? Two. No love triangle in my book.

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Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,460 reviews9,613 followers
December 3, 2016

I SENSE THE BOY the moment he sets foot in the cave.

For the first time in centuries, I stir.

I am smoke in the lamp, and I curl and stretch, shaking off the lethargy of five hundred years. I feel I have half turned to stone. The sound of his footsteps rattles me like a clap of thunder, and I bolt fully awake.


As you can tell from the blurb, this is a retelling of Aladdin. I was afraid I wouldn't like this book for reasons, but I really did enjoy it. I love Zahra the jinni from the lamp. Aladdin is a twat at times but he's wonderful too.

Even though Aladdin found Zahra's lamp and he's her master for now, he's very kind to her. Zahra is one of the most powerful jinn in the world and she has been alive for 4000 years!

Aladdin is out for revenge against Darian and his father who did some really messed up stuff to his family. And Zahra gets to come along for the ride. She does a good bit of shape shifting in the book and I loved that, the things you can ease drop on when your something else!

Caspida is the daughter of the King but also a descendant to one of the gods of long ago. I loved her character as well. She was like a female Robin Hood but only in the sand, not the woods. lol She also has a bad to the bone band of women that were awesome too.

Darian and his evil father are looking to take over the throne but not if Aladdin, Zahra and Caspida have anything to do with it!

There are other things happening in the book and it's all good reading. It's a wonderful little love story that has a little of everything. Will Zahra and Aladdin make it? Will they be able to love each other even though it is forbidden? Read the book to find out. =)

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List

Profile Image for Simona B.
892 reviews2,986 followers
May 28, 2017

"All the world is in your shadow."

•By way of introduction, I should inform you that Khoury's Aladdin spoke to my infamously cold heart. I think that, on my infatuation scale, this one reaches a Paul Markov level. Which means I'm crushing on the guy. Very hard. (Though Paul Markov still remains a case on his own and my spiritual connection to him has by now achieved the status of True Love. Time will tell if with Aladdin will happen as much.) So, well, you see how I'll probably won't be 100% objective about the romance, but I promise I will try with all my might. And I'll get it out of my way now.

"Aladdin groans. "I'm sick of playing prince. Let's pick pockets."

•If there ever was a single quote sufficient to describe a whole character, this is it.
Aladdin is a thief. Aladdin is also the boy with the brightest smile and liveliest temper and the most fiery heart your mind could conjure. And he is also, of course, all kinds of adorable. His love story with the jinni Zahra is a slow-burn dance that will mesmerise even the most demanding of readers (I'm most certainly not talking about myself) and that, I warn you, will make you ache. You will melt and cry and rejoice, but all the time you'll ache inside for the two of them. Not only for the two of them to be together, but also for each of them to find their way.
I should probably add that , and its only true aim is usually to add some drama, and for these reasons I hardly stand it whenever I stumble upon it, be it in a movie or a book. Moreover, it's so clichéd. But I liked it all the same (I was dying there, thank you very much, Khoury) so why should I bother?
Yes, the romance was perfect.

There are more than a couple of tropes and clichés in YA that I will never get tired of; and although the one I'm referring to now is not exactly a cliché (in fact, whenever a ya fantasy series/book could play more on it but doesn't, I see it as a missed opportunity) and is likely instead to be considered a rather peculiar feature, it is one of those things that can recur, and to which we could give a general name that, more or less and probably with little heed to the unique traits and circumstances that define each situation, describes the nature of the trope: "love triangle", "special snowflake", "rags to riches". So few words, and yet in hearing them we already know what to expect. The one I'm talking about, the one I'll always love and accept gratefully, the one I found in this book, well, that one has no "official" name -as I said, it can be described as recurring, if you keep your eyes open, but apparently not so much as to deserve one. Personally, I think of it as "the nameless character".
The thing I'm talking about is magic. Or rather, a very special kind of magic.
I have already shared this idea in my reviews of A Gathering of Shadows by Victoria Schwab and of Uprooted by Naomi Novik, and the same applies to The Forbidden Wish: I love how Khoury portrayed Zahra's magic. Her power is a living being: a force of nature, an animal bred in the wild; the finest craftsman, the fiercest warrior, and the most loyal friend.
When an author decides to fill their world with this kind of magic, the magic itself is art and artist at once. The magic becomes its wielder and the wielder becomes his magic, as if they are but one thing. It may be just me and I am almost sure it is, but I find it so intensely fascinating and poetic. I could rave about it for hours and hours without even scratching the surface of the fascinating I feel for the nameless character. It drives me insane.

"In that eternity between heartbeats, I think.
I dream.
I create."

The writing is lush and neat at once, and it had a very particular musicality to it that perfectly suits this story. I would describe it as the literary equivalent of the saying that goes "In the right place at the right time".

•And last but not least, the ending. This majestic, spectacular ending.
I finished the book a couple of hours ago now, and still I find myself unable to formulate any coherent thought apart from Woah.
I mean Woah.
(Was it my mind that thing that just flew out of the window? Oh never mind.)
I loved the ending to no end, and yes, I can hear you sighing miserably at my piteous pun. I really can't say anything about it without it being a major spoiler, so let's just say it involves magic, time and a ring. That's all you need to know. Well, not really, but you know what I mean.

"Find me, my thief."

Also, it almost broke me that . Alas, how emotional I am.

The Forbidden Wish is a book you won't regret reading. It is a book you will often want to come back to, like a favorite armchair or that one bench in the park from where you can spot the see. It will be your very personal flying carpet, but since its magic has its own mind, neither I nor anyone else can guarantee on its itinerary.
Bon voyage.
Profile Image for High Lady of The Night Court.
135 reviews5,054 followers
January 11, 2019
A roller coaster ride full of adventure, magic, and love.

This was the retelling of Aladdin I didn't know I was waiting for. It is definitely among one of the best retellings I have read. I especially loved the author's writing and her description in the last 4 chapters was enchanting. I could not be more glad that I decided to pick it up, it was great a great story enforced with even better characters.

This is a story about a Jinni who is believed to have betrayed not only her kind but also the humans. She is left behind, in the remains of a city destroyed long ago because of the same mistake that started a war. But now, she has been released by a boy who doesn't hate her as all the others seem to, he dreams, dreams of avenging his parents and hopes for change.
Now, bound to him through the lamp she travels with him until he makes his 3 wishes. On this journey she is offered a chance at freedom, to no longer be bound to her lamp, but the stakes are high and if she fails she will die. How much is she willing to barter for her freedom? What will sacrifice to finally be accountable to no one but herself?

I LOVE these characters and everything they stand for. Getting to know them and seeing all that they have been through is both a heartbreaking and heart warming experience. Aladdin and his roguish charm, dreams, and loyalty along with Zahra and her sharp edges, wishes, and hope make a great pair.

The Jinni much like Genies can grant you 3 wishes, but keep in mind
" Wishes have a way of twisting themselves, and there is nothing more dangerous than getting your heart’s desire." .

The Jinni are hated and feared because of a peace treaty that failed most disastrously in the past leading to an all out war. The entire concept of the Jinni and learning more about it was very fascinating. The idea of genies and lamps was incorporated into the story very well. The hierarchy and types of Jinni were well thought out, even if we didn't get to see much of them.

I flew through this book and it surpassed all my expectations. My first Aladdin retelling and I had a marvelous time getting accustomed to this world and it's characters. The book is in Zahra's perspective but she is also talking to another person in her mind, a person she loved, a person she lost, which made me all the more curious to understand her past.

I enjoyed this book and give it 4.5 stars.
Profile Image for Clara.
132 reviews171 followers
March 24, 2017

I actually picked this one quite randomly, and without any high expectations about it, but to my greatest astonishment, this book turned out to be my best surprise of the year so far ! I honestly couldn’t find one thing I didn’t love about it or one reason why I shouldn’t give this book 4.5 stars ! So here it is : 4.5 amazing stars !

The story :
We’re following Zahra, a very old and powerful Jinni who’s been stuck in her lamp for thousands of years. But one day, a thief called Aladdin is going to find her lamp and release her from its walls, becoming her new master with 3 wishes at his disposal. What Zahra didn’t expect was to find herself slowly caring for the boy despite her goal to reach her freedom at all costs and not repeat the past by angering the King of the Jinn who could destroy humans and their world.
“I have no form,” I say, my voice shifting and multiplying, a dozen voices speaking at once. “I have no name. I am the Slave of the Lamp, and your will is my will. Your wishes are my commands.”

The world-building and plot :
Honestly, I was completely bewitched and captivated by the whole concept of the book : the Jinn, or more precisely the retelling of Aladdin. I found it to be really unique, unlike any other fantasy book I’ve read, and the writing, which I HAD to notice because of how beautiful, enchanting and dreamy it was, made the whole thing come alive in my hands, putting sparks and stars in my eyes, and it made it so easy to picture things such as the city, the outfits, but most of all the Jinn and their magic. The world was very well thought-out and original, intricate but not overly confusing with unnecessary details and complex concepts regarding the fantasy elements of the story.
The intrigue was very fast-paced, once again the writing making it so easy to be hooked even when there’s not much action, but the story was still full of adventure and feelings, and the last quarter of the book was truly badass and full of magic, it blew my mind. I also loved that the girls were the highlight in this book, all of them being badass, smart and brave : it was full-on girl power !
Sometimes, you can’t choose what happens to you, but you can choose who you become because of it.

The characters :
First, we have our Jinni : Zahra ! I don’t know how, but it seems lately I’m only reading books where I find the female lead to be extremely lovable, and Zahra was no exception ! Despite looking like a sixteen-year old girl, Zahra is actually thousands of years old, making her very mature, reasonable, smart, strong, a bit guarded because of a hurtful past, but through her adventures with Aladdin, she’s going to learn to become more human again, letting her feelings fill her and accepting them, getting lighter and discovering how to have fun with him. I loved how despite being one of the last powerful jinn, I didn’t feel the special snow-flake vibe from her : she felt more like a very important side-kick character and it was really refreshing.
As for Aladdin, he completely charmed me ! He is cocky and a bit of a charmer , he’s reckless and impetuous, yet he’s also sweet, brave, faithful, loving, joking a lot and most of the times with a grin on his face. He’s the kind of easy-going guy you can’t help but love, but he’s also haunted by his past and set on getting his revenge for his parents. I liked how he showed Zahra to enjoy life and helped her see that loving a human again is not wrong.
Caspida was also a very strong and badass character, I loved her and her girls, how they fight for their people, how clever they were. This book was just full of amazing girls taking control of their lives and not letting themselves be enslaved by duty or men, they’re being their own hero, THAT’s the spirit !
“The things that were once sweet to me are now bitter. The sun is not half so bright. The stars seem dimmer. All this wealth and luxury feels meaningless. All the world is in your shadow, Zahra. I cannot help but see you when I close my eyes.”

The romance :
It was quite important in the story, however it never overshadowed the world-building or the plot. It was a slow-burn romance, no insta-love, Zahra and Aladdin spending time together and getting to know the other one. I liked how for a while we could think it would follow the original story, with Aladdin being charmed by Caspida, but how ultimately the only girl he could see was Zahra. Their relationship felt natural and beautiful, with an easy banter, but at the same time it was also sensual and passionate and yet they were also so cute together, it really had me enchanted the whole time ! <3
“If you’re not free to love,” I whisper, “you’re not free at all.”

Well, I don’t know what else to say to convince you that this fantasy is sooo much worth reading, especially because it doesn’t leave you unsatisfied : there’s an actual ending, real closure, without any cliffhanger.
Profile Image for Jasmine.
437 reviews707 followers
March 15, 2016
Latest & Final Update: 3/15/2016

**Actual rating: 3.5/5 My-Thief Stars**

Well, this is one of those stories which started with a promising beginning but the plot didn't develop as flawlessly as I hoped. Seriously, the first half of the book along with Aladdin and Zahra's upcoming adventure was very captivating and I was incurably obssessed with it. I was so eager to know what kind of trials they would encounter and how they would work as a team. Above all, I really wanted to see how well Zahra, aka the most powerful jinni in the world, could harness her magic. However, I realized the author didn't put enough descriptions about her power or whatever she was capable of in the story. She kept telling us that Zahra was the best jinni of all and she was so strong and invincible, but there weren't many scenes that could prove her impossible ability. What she did was something everyone already knew, that is, granting wishes from different lamp holders. Not until the very last chapters did she show some magical tricks about , but in my opinion, I still couldn't relate to her at all.

Other than the lack of emotional connection I had for the main characters, (I actually felt pretty connected to them at first, but somehow that feeling was gone at the moment I was finished) another imperfection for me is the ending. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE that ending; it's just that I have to agree with some people who think the end was a bit suger-coating. Some of you may know that I read the ending before I continued the rest of it, and the first time I checked, all sorts of hope ignited and my expectation got higher and higher because for real, nothing could be better than THAT!!! To my slight disappointment, when I read the entire context, it felt...wrong. I guess it's because of the last sentence,
So this is what it feels like to have all your wishes come true.
okay, not that I'm throwing a damp over you, but don't you think it's not so either in fictional stories or reality? Maybe it's just me, because as much as I love happy ending, I also expect it to end more...realistic. Perhaps the end will be perfect without this sentence.

As for the relationship between Aladdin and Zahra, that's probably the one thing I enjoyed most. I liked that he always said the right thing at the right time and his words indeed meant a lot for her, for someone who was deemed as the monster who betrayed her master and destroyed the city centuries ago and even killed her friend then.
“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."

He was considerate and genuine enough to know how to comfort her, and in the meanwhile, told her the truth.
“You loved before, and she was taken from you. Ever since, you’ve been afraid to love again. You insist you’re a monster because you’re afraid of being human.”

No lying, no fake interactions, no pretending. Oh, I really liked Aladdin. :P
Aladdin stares at me for a long moment, then says softly, “When I was little, and the guards would come around and beat my father until he paid them off, my grandmother used to take me onto the roof of our house so I didn’t have to watch. I asked her why my father resisted the guards when they always won in the end. Why didn’t he just save himself the pain and pay them what they wanted? She told me that sometimes, you can’t choose what happens to you, but you can choose who you become because of it. That’s why my father fought back. He knew in the end, it wouldn’t change anything. But he wouldn’t let the circumstances control who he was.” His eyes turn stormy. “I always thought there’s no freedom in fighting back—just death. What’s the point of fighting for a lost cause? You’re like my father. You fight back.”

I think that's the way their feelings for each other worked out so well in the end, despite the above teeny, tiny blemish for the story.

All in all, I still recommend this book to those who haven't given it a shot because honestly, the material of the retelling is quite interesting for me and the ending is heart-warmingly amazing. It definitely changes my initial indifference towards Aladdin and Jasmine Zahra.

Older Update: 1/24/2016

**Temporary rating: 5/5 Promising Stars (I've only read the first 8 chapters from the sneak peek provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)**

Honestly, I wasn't a big fan of Aladdin story, but this one piqued my interest immensely! The story was told in a jinni's POV, which already made me super excited about how it'll go, let alone the jinni's a GIRL! I'm not sure about the original jinni in the fairytale, but from what I remembered, there's no female jinni in those well known stories, is there? Anyway, this girly jinni was named Zahra(what a coincidence! I just met a new friend and her name is Zera, so ever since I read these chapters, I've always thought about her as the jinni...) and she was really, really adorable. And badass.

The tension between Aladdin(well, I thought the male mc's name would be something more interesting than "Aladdin" but no, he was just Aladdin here) and Zahra was definitely something I'm so looking forward to exploring! Because she was still a 17-year-old girl sealed by magic to froze her age and became a jinni. I wonder what'll happen if a lot of unexpected incidents occur, or what'll happen when Zahra's king(the King of the Jinn) suddenly changes his deal and whatnot.

Profile Image for Natalie Monroe.
591 reviews3,541 followers
August 14, 2016
"My name," I stammer. "I mean... one of them. You can call me Zahra."

He turns around fully, his grin as wide and bright as the moon. "I'm Aladdin."

Thank God for reviews. Without them, I would have taken one look at the description of earth-shaking love, went nope and clicked away.

Is The Forbidden Wish heavy on romance?

Admittedly, yes.

Very early on in the story, Zahra develops an attraction for Aladdin, the boy, as we all know from the story, who let the genie (called "jinni" here) out of the lamp. This retelling sticks very close to the Disney version, with Zahra having been trapped in the lamp for thousands of years and Aladdin weaseling his way out of making a wish to get out of the cave. His first wish is to become a prince, and his second was to save his life, both of which occur sometime during the plot.

His third wish was to free the genie. I suppose it's only a spoiler if you haven't watched the Disney movie and I highly doubt that. I won't say much beyond it happens and it was in a way that was foreshadowed, but I didn't see coming.

My point is Disney's Aladdin is rather romance-centric, too. The story (mostly) starts with Aladdin wanting to win Princess Jasmine. Is it so jarring that a retelling sticks close to its romantic roots yet manages to be a well-written, wildly creative story on its own?

It's more complex, more feminist. The filmmakers did a lovely job with Princess Jasmine and Khoury expands on that. Although Zahra is attracted to Aladdin, she doesn't let her feelings get in the way of her real goal: to win her freedom. She manipulates him into making wishes to serve her desires.

"As long as [the lamp] remains on Aladdin's person and as long as he remains alive, I am bound only by the invisible perimeter that surrounds the lamp. One hundred and forty-nine paces. I have measured it many, many times."

Jasmine is called Caspida and she is badass. So are her Watchmaidens, who act as her handmaidens, squad, and protectors. They remind me of the Sand Snakes—not the twisted mockery of female power the show turned them into, but the one from the books who celebrate sisterhood and strength and obedience if the situation calls for it.

And the romance is beautiful. Yes, it's death-defying and Cynical Natalie is rolling her eyes out as I type this, but Khoury made me care about these characters and their fears and hopes and dreams, and that makes all the difference.

"All the world is in your shadow, Zahra. I cannot help but see you when I close my eyes."

The writing is on the purple side, especially in the beginning, but it works so well with Zahra's personality and the mystic setting.

A dream of a fantasy romance with vivid characters, strong overtones of sisterhood, and a brilliant plot that draws on Aladdin, but holds its own.
Profile Image for ♛ may.
806 reviews3,792 followers
August 30, 2017
Full review posted:

This is one of those books suffering a STRONG case of its-most-definitely-me-not-you bc it seems that the entire world adored it and im kinda here on the sidelines like. . .
w h y ??? I want to share in the fangirling too ;-;


- Middle eastern SETTING, be still my heart
- Aladdin retelling, I mean who can hate Disney ???
- V cute ship – even tho its not really ship-material but I still found myself rooting these too on
- Aladdin is a cutie, gahhhh, he’s such a flirt but this kid knows how to play with your feels
- Girl power ALL THE WAY IM SO !!!!!!
- Lots of world building, definitely created a fantastical, intriguing world
- The writing is really poetic

Out of all the edits I saw for this book, this one has GOT TO BE THE MOST GORGEOUS!! I’m absolutely dazzled 😍😍


- Even those the writing was beautiful, I found it to be tiring after a while, everything just felt OVER explained ya feel
- Too many things going on, hard to keep track, there were like main plots that had subplots and those subplots had even-subberplots
- There was a portion from around 30% till 70% that just felt like absolute FILLER and it was really hard to concentrate on the main focus of the book itself
- Could have been condensed a lot more
- So many villains its hard to keep track
- Jinni aren’t really. . . love interests, like you probably shouldn’t be kissing them

Overall, just ignore my review, bc the rest of the world loved it and im just a bitter soul.

“The price of every lie is that the truth will always come out.”

2.5 stars!!


#1 Buddy read with my smol name twin, mayonnaise

i've been anticipating this book sINCE FOREVER. if this doesn't live up to the hype, im gonna cry in the corner for the remainder of my career
Profile Image for emi.
445 reviews1,078 followers
June 19, 2017
Buddy read with Elise, Joanna, and Maram, who I'll link when I'm not so lazy.

This was blurbed by Renée Ahdieh. I'd read the dictionary of she told me to. This better surpass all expectations.
Profile Image for Alyssa.
1,069 reviews837 followers
January 14, 2016
4.5 stars! Trying to decide if I want to round up or down. I LOVED this book!

***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: February 23, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from First to Read

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.

What I Liked:

I honestly have no idea how to review this book. It. Was. AMAZING. I've been waiting for this book for about two years now, since Khoury announced that her Aladdin story would be A Book. I adore Aladdin and all things Aladdin-retelling-y, so I knew I had to read this book. It's my first Khoury book and it certainly did not disappoint!

This is a retelling of Aladdin like you've never seen. Zahra has been trapped in her lamp for thousands of years. It's by chance that a poor boy, Aladdin, finds the ruins in which she/the lamp lies, and takes the lamp. In Parthenia, jinn are hunted and captured, and Zahra's existence isn't allowed. Zahra is offered a chance at freedom by the King of the Jinn - rescue his son, who is trapped in Parthenia, and the King will free Zahra of her lamp. Aladdin is Zahra's best chance at getting into the Parthenian palace. But Zahra finds that she can't use Aladdin as a means to an end - she falls in love with him. In the end, she must choose - her freedom, or her love?

This book is written entirely in Zahra's first-person POV, which I thought was very different but an excellent way of bringing about the story! We're used to Aladdin telling the story, but it's Zahra. Five hundred years ago, Zahra was slave to the Queen of Parthenia, but the queen treated her like a sister and an equal. But this was her downfall, and five hundred years later, jinn aren't free to roam and live among humans. Zahra has a lot of secrets and a lot of history, and Aladdin/we discover it little by little. This gives Zahra so much more depth and character, given how heartbroken she is about past decisions, and how misunderstood her side of history is.

I really like Zahra, and I had no trouble connecting with her and understanding her. She's a powerful jinni, one of the last Shaitan. She's clever and tough and a warrior jinni through and through. I love how her mind works, and how she sticks to her plans and goals. Finding the Jinn King's son is her goal, but she doesn't expect to fall for Aladdin in the process.

You may ask, why doesn't she just abandon Aladdin and go look for the Jinn prince? It is because Aladdin has her lamp, and Zahra cannot go more than 150 steps away from Aladdin, as long as he has the lamp on him. So, she uses something personal to get him to make a wish to be a prince; Aladdin has always wanted to take down the vizier who killed his parents, so Aladdin agrees to wish to be a prince and they go to the palace, both with very different motives. Zahra does not tell him about hers.

I LOVE Aladdin! He is mischievous and wicked and so charming, everything that boy Aladdin in the Disney movie is, but in a more grown, mature sense. I mean, he's plenty mischievous, but he's also more of a man than the boy in the movie. He himself is also very smart, very clever, and oh so handsome. He's charming and adaptable, and he fits right in as a royal in the Parthenian palace. He's a good actor and a good person.

I absolutely love the romance in this book. It's a subtle thing, but the chemistry between the characters is always there. Zahra tries so hard to staunch her burgeoning feelings for Aladdin, because she knows that it can't happen, for several reasons. Aladdin makes no attempt to stifle his feelings, though it takes him (them both, really) some time to realize what is happening between them. There are some really steamy encounters in this book!

NO love triangle, people. There are secondary characters that are introduced that might SEEM like they could be legs to a triangle (on either side - Zahra's or Aladdin's), but I assure you, there is no love triangle. If this makes more sense: no one feels anything towards anyone else, and no one is interested in anyone else. A linear romance, I promise you! I'm stressing this because people will be introduced and might seem like threats but they never are and never would have been.

Khoury did an amazing job of creating and molding this jinn world to fit her story! So many words and names that I recognize from other jinn stories, and interesting spins on other concepts. The world-building is beautiful and well-written! This story is different from the original story of Aladdin, and wholly its own.

The ending is very busy and nail-biting! There is a lot going on in several different areas, and I was worried about several characters at once. I just could not seem to read the pages fast enough! I was very satisfied with the ending - it's a good one! Slightly on the cookie-cutter-perfect side, but I'll take it. I liked the ending!

What I Did Not Like:

I can't quite think of anything at the moment! This is more on the publisher's side, but I wish the publisher had kept the original cover! Nothing to do with the book itself, don't mind me...

Would I Recommend It:

I highly recommend this book! It was excellent! I had to read it over two days but I absolutely loved the book. There is a strong romance and lovely world-building! Plus, ALADDIN! Khoury does the tale of Aladdin justice, but also makes this story her own.


4.5 stars -> rounded down to 4 stars. I'm not entirely sure why I'm rounding down to 4 stars - I'm still kind of vacillating in terms of the rating. It's a 4.5-star rating, people! I was extremely pleased with this book.

SOOOOOOOOOOO EXCITED!!!! I love Arab-based books! Desert fantasy, so on.

Read more about this book HERE or check out Jessica's Pinterest board of inspiration for this book HERE.


Profile Image for ☆☽Erica☾☆.
200 reviews674 followers
April 26, 2016
The only evidence that there ever was a garden of wonders, the only testimony to the great city lost beneath the sand, is a single pale coin that lies on the surface, winking at the moon.
And, of course, there is me.

This book is damn near flawless.

I am in love with it. This book was literally so much fun and so much wonderful and so much delightful that I just want to

This is a retelling of Aladdin, with a few twists- including the fact that the jinni of the lamp is a girl named Zahra who has been alive for thousands of years. She is one of the most powerful jinni in existence, with magical powers that see no bounds, except for her lifetime imprisonment to the constantly changing masters of her lamp.

Zahra herself is a wise and beautiful woman who has made the ultimate sin of the jinni once before: loving a human. So when she is freed from her lamp after a long and painful exile (think 500 years) by a young thief named Aladdin, she faces the human world with a newfound caution. Aladdin has followed the whisperings of a magic ring to find her, and seemingly is the only one who can hear its power. They set out together to fight unrest in Aladdin's kingdom, Zahra granting two wishes in their early time together. The story develops beautifully from there, and ceases to exist just in their own two realities. Their reach is expansive and explosive.

From the first page of this story, I was absolutely hooked. I knew what was happening and was easily taken along this wonderful ride. There were no extended lags in the action or confusion on my part. The story was crisp, clear, and lovely.

Aladdin, our male mc, is a jovial thief from the underworld of this monarchical society. He steals and forages for his next meal and for the possessions he desires. His parents were killed by a devious member of the monarchy for being rebels, so he is fighting with his own inner demons regarding that. His personality though is just glorious. He is smart, quick, charming, and altogether a charismatic person.

Another incredible part of the story is how much is blows the Bechdel Test out of the water. There's a whole band of powerful warrior women called the Watchmaidens that is comprised of various princesses, including/ led by the future queen of the land. Like wow. I was worried at first, thinking the author may pit the women against Zahra and against each other eventually. But how pointless my worries were. This story contains an interminable amount of girl power and women working together to literally defeat the patriarchy. All the girls in this group also have their own unique weapons, which just made everything even more tremendous.

Caspida, the leader of the group is just an absolutely spectacular character. She is truly the embodiment of a queen. And instead of being a huge douche, Aladdin is a powerful ally to their cause! Just when the world hasn't shook under me enough, he goes and crumbles it. (The mean guy is speaking to Aladdin in the beginning of this quote, Aladdin responds.)

"If Parthenia is going to become the power it once was, we need a strong leader. Someone the people look up to. Someone they've inspired and respected for years. Not some weak prince from some far-off kingdom nobody has even heard of. These people will never follow you."

"I don't need anyone to follow me. They will follow

Women writers nowadays are absolutely killing this book-writing game. Goodness gracious.

An additional thought: my family and I went to Disney World a fair few times when I was growing up. (Bear with me here, I'll get to the point in a second.) In one of the parks, Epcot, they have a "world showcase" where they create sections of the park devoted and designed to look like various countries. One of which was Morocco. Since I was very little, I was positively entranced by it. The sights, the colors, the sounds, the earthiness of it all. Every time we would come back, it was always the county I looked forward to most. Growing older, my love of that created world still hypnotized me. When I reached college and began studying Women's Studies and Anthropology, my interests now more informed about the world and cultures, I hoped to one day go there. I found a volunteer program that works with Women's Empowerment in Rabat, Morocco and I sought and still seek to go with that group. I've been saving, but it hasn't happened yet. I'm saying all this because this story's setting reminds me of Morocco. So, in a few less words, I also loved the setting. And listened to the Aladdin soundtrack while I was getting ready this morning. :D

To say the least, I loved this. READ IT!

Profile Image for Patricia Bejarano.
436 reviews5,397 followers
May 30, 2019
Si no eres libre para amar, no eres libre en absoluto.
4.5 en realidad. Me ha encantado ❤️
No os imagináis las ganas que tenía de leer este libro y más después de ver la nueva película de Aladdín de acción real. Que yo ya amaba la historia de Disney, pero claro, ahora era como el momento ideal para leer El tercer deseo.
En esta historia nos encontramos un retelling de Aladdín, y de verdad, los guiños a la película me hacían emocionarme hasta el infinito y más allá. El cambio más llamativo es que en este caso Aladdín encuentra la lámpara y de su interior sale una genio, Zahra. Una genio que ha sido la culpable de la destrucción de su anterior reina y que es toda una leyenda. Zahra debe acatar las órdenes de su nuevo amo y a la vez intentar ganarse la libertad que le ofrece el rey de los genios, haciendo un trabajo que puede acabar muy mal para ella y todo el mundo que la rodea.
Nos encontramos ante un mundo maravilloso, lleno de magia y que te atrapa por completo desde el principio. Y es que a pesar de tener las descripciones suficientes para situarte en el lugar, no llegan a hacerse pesadas y consiguen que traspases las páginas y te sientas en este mundo tan mágico.
La novela es ADICTIVA desde el principio. Está contada desde el punto de vista de Zahra, y es genial ver como se desenvuelve con sus poderes. Zahra es una genio que ha pasado por mucho durante su larga vida y es muy doloroso ir viendo todo lo que ha llevado a ese punto, todo por lo que ha tenido que pasar y lo que ha perdido. Es un personaje fuerte, perspicaz, cabezota e inteligente. Así que juntarse con Aladdín, un personaje muy astuto y pícaro, hacen la combinación perfecta. Aladdín quiere vengarse de los asesinos de sus padres, y eso es lo que hace que Zahra y él lleguen a palacio y conozcan a la princesa Cáspida, que es toda una luchadora (en todos los sentidos).
Si hay algo que me ha encantado es que todas las reglas que pensamos creer sobre los genios, en este libro no sucede así. Hay otras reglar que rigen los deseos que puedes pedir y eso me ha sorprendido muy gratamente.
Lo que no entiendo es el cambio de título en español cuando es MUY IMPORTANTE el tema del deseo prohibido para la trama principal, no sé a qué se ha podido deber el cambio... pero sin duda ¡NO ME GUSTA!
También tiene amor. Y ese tema me ha hecho sufrir mucho y ha conseguido que mi corazón se rompiera varias veces. Y es un amor lento, que empieza a cocerse casi a mitad de la novela, siendo un amor muy puro. Ha sido sin duda una de mis cosas favoritas de esta historia.
Si hay algo por lo que no le he dado el 5 es porque me hubiera gustado que el final hubiera estado un poquitín más desarrollado. No sé, un par de capítulos más de sufrimiento y dolor. MÁS DRAMA (que no se note para nada que me gusta sufrir...). Pero por lo demás no tengo pegas, me ha gustado muchísimo todo. La historia en general, el ritmo, los personajes, los buenos y malos, el mundo y por supuesto, como está contada.
Si os gusta Aladdín, sin duda tenéis que darle una oportunidad. También es un libro autoconclusivo de fantasía, y ya sabéis que son complicados de encontrar. Y por supuesto, si os gustan los libros mágicos, este libro se os quedará para siempre en vuestro corazón.
Profile Image for Mikee (ReadWithMikee).
203 reviews1,279 followers
March 1, 2016
"Give me thy hand," said the Queen, "and let us be friends. For does not the poet say, one true-hearted friend is worth ten thousand camels laden with gold?"

This the Jinni pondered, before replying, "The poet also says, woe to the man who befriends the jinn, for he shakes hands with death."

The Forbidden Wish was actually not a bad story at all. I was a little worried that this retelling would butcher my love for Aladdin but while it didn't disappoint, it didn't impress me either. However, I am pretty disappointed that we didn't get any magic carpet rides... But besides that, the story just seemed a little slow. It felt like a lot happened, when in reality not much really did. The Forbidden Wish was beautifully written and had its exciting moments, but I couldn't help but feel that something was missing in the story.

Even though this was an Aladdin retelling, the character of Aladdin was more of a supporting character in the story than anything. Nonetheless, I still loved Aladdin! However, it really felt as if he was the damsel in distress in the story. Not that I'm complaining since I'm all for girl power and all but I just didn't particular like this detail in the book.

As for our main character, Zahra... I didn't hate her, but I certainly wasn't attached to her. I enjoyed her character in the beginning but as the story went on, I began to grow weary of her. She just repeatedly kept feeling bad for herself and I got tired of the whole "I can't love you, you can't love me. It's forbidden. And I'm ready to sacrifice my happiness as long as you live. BLAH BLAH BLAH." Zzz... I wanted to ship Aladdin and Zahra so bad but I just couldn't.

If anything, I probably loved Caspida more than I liked Zahra and if the romance actually shifted to Aladdin and Caspida, I would've been all for it because unlike Zahra, Caspida actually embodies Princess Jasmine in the traditional sense of being the king's daughter and being forced to marry a prince. On top of that, Caspida and her Watchmaidens kick so much ass! I felt The Forbidden Wish would've been much better if Caspida was the heroine in the story and not Zahra. I would've prefer a Robin Williams-esque genie to be honest!

Overall, this book was a pretty entertaining read. It was definitely one of the less disappointing book releases in the month of February.
Profile Image for Maureen.
507 reviews4,201 followers
February 10, 2017
This might be more like a 4.5 but MAN OH MAN did I love this book.
ZAHRA MY BBY MY FAVORITE FOREVER. I also really loved the small subtle Aladdin movie references they were so great and AHHHH Aladdin is one of my faves so this book was perfect for my Disney loving heart. WORLD BUILDING GREAT ALL THE THINGS GREAT.
Sometimes there were some things that didn't make sense and sometimes there were pacing issues, but those are really the only things I didn't love about this book.
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,084 reviews17.4k followers
October 27, 2017
“You think some rabble with kitchen knives makes you a queen?”
Caspida glances back at the people, fighting tooth and nail against the better-equipped soldiers. “They're exactly what makes me a queen.”

Well, that was a bit of a surprise. The Forbidden Wish is a romantic Aladdin retelling with added romance, yes, but it's also a story about women and their power in the world. Talk about passing the Bechdel test - this absolutely killed it with badass girl leads.

I'm tired of living for the dead. I want to live for you.

There is a major romance here, but it's one I enjoyed far more than usual. I really loved the developing romance between Zhara and Aladdin. Not only is their relationship building slow and high-quality; they're also just very good for each other. I felt invested in their relationship just by the virtue of how sweet they are.
I could spend the rest of my life discovering you.

I also really loved Zhara's character arc. She's a girl who believes she's a monster and hates herself for it. I know this kind of character is bit of a archetype, but it's an archetype I personally love when done well. This book definitely did the archetype well. I really loved the way Zhara was written and developed.
You can't choose what happens to you but you can choose who you come because of it.

I have to admit, though, this whole thing felt a little insubstantial. But I can't even really complain about this, because that was the intention!! It's a romantic fantasy. This book was so clearly not for me to analyze!! It's not necessarily meant to be serious. It's a romantic fantasy, and it's a good one at that. I rushed through this and absolutely enjoyed it. That should be enough for me. Hopeless romantics will enjoy it maybe more than me, but this is was certainly very high quality as these books go and I can't recommend it enough to anyone who feels interested.

BR with Emi Miranda, Maram, and Joanna.

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Profile Image for Μaria Vrisanaki .
189 reviews135 followers
October 20, 2018
A truly jewel!

Glittering, atmospheric, sweet, romantic, tender
Fool of smoke, sand and magic!


“Wish for her love, and I will deliver it to you”

“Then it wouldn’t be love”
“And what do you know about love?”
“That it must be a choice”
“Oh, my naïve thief, love is rarely a choice”


I loved every time when “thief” called Zahra “Smoky”



Buddy read with my lovely Maria Grim (noelias_books) 😉❤
Profile Image for Nastassja.
423 reviews986 followers
March 7, 2016

Unplanned buddy-read with my fellow Watchmaidens Kristalia and Katerina.

“Like all wishes, the Forbidden Wish comes at a price. My freedom must be bought with a death, a life paid in sacrifice."

Once upon a time in Agrabah lived a boy named Aladdin. He was a homeless thief who survived by stealing food. One day he was caught and brought to a palace where a sinister vizier Jafar made a proposition to him: retreat an old lamp from a dangerous land and Aladdin will live, or decline and he will die. Aladdin agreed and soon he found the lamp. But it turned out to be a magic lamp with a jinn inside, who could grant three wishes to anyone who possessed the lamp. And thus began a story of Aladdin who became a prince and fought evil vizier and won a princess' hand. Halt. This is not THE story this book is about. No. No. No. This one is about a boy Aladdin who doesn't care about noble endeavors and wants only revenge. He is bitter and a drunkard and a womanizer. He stole a ring from his enemy and it led him to an abandoned ancient city, where in ruins stood a lamp and in the lamp lived a jinn trapped there for the last five hundred years, waiting for its new master to arrive. But when Aladdin touched the lamp, not a monstrous creature of legends appeared in front him, but a fair maiden - beautiful and young. She promised Aladdin his desired revenge, but in secret she had her own agenda: to find a jinn prince in a palace, free him, and his father Nardukha - the most powerful jinn - will grand her freedom. But universe weaves her own threads and soon the story turns into a tale of woe about star-crossed lovers destined to be apart for eternity...


Aladdin. Not a Disney version of a well-known thief. Forget about cheerful, funny Aladdin, well, he is still funny, but darkness lurks inside him. No noble cause in this one, all he wants is revenge for his parents. And you know what? I absolutely get his anger and resentment: Aladdin's parents were killed in front of him and he watched as their heads were severed from bodies and put on a stake. A cruelty that cannot be forgotten or forgiven:

His eyes are hard as diamonds, glittering in the starlight. A change passes over his face, and he suddenly seems older, harder, angrier. Like a cloud crossing the sun, so fleeting I nearly miss it, but it turns me cold.
“Zahra, if I wished for someone to die, could you do it?”
<...>There is a darkness in him I hadn’t seen.

Add to this drinking problems and womanizer habits - and we get this book's version of Aladdin. And he is absolutely irresistible!
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 looked with new eyes on a well-known character and saw something raw, uninhibited in him, something that makes him more human than imaginary character.
“Well, I guess you don’t know me well enough,” says Aladdin darkly. “I’m not my father. I’m not some kind of rebel or leader. I took the job from Xaxos for the money, nothing else.”

Demon of fire. Monster of smoke. Devil of sand and ash. Servant of Nardukha, Daughter of Ambadya, the Nameless, the Faceless, the Limitless. Slave of the Lamp. Jinni.

I must admit, I was skeptical about jinni being a girl. From the annotation I knew she was going to be a love interest as well and it's hard to imagine an immortal creature made of smoke as someones lover. Oh boy, how wrong I was! Zahra is one of the best heroines I've read about. Her voice gave the book love, compassion, friendship - everything a real leaving breathing girl from flesh and bone can give. At times Zahra even felt more alive than people around her. She once was a 17 year-old girl and then she was turned into immortal jinni whose only purpose to serve her masters; she lived for 4 thousand years, she saw everything, and some part of her is broken under the pressure of world's cruelty.
"I am a jinni, Aladdin. Never think I am anything but heartless.”

“What would it take to make you believe, Zahra?”
“I have lived too long to believe in happiness.”
“You’ve been in that lamp too long. It’s curdled your heart. I think you do believe. I think you just don’t want to get hurt. You’re afraid.”

Yes, she is afraid to live, to dream, to hope. And still, if there's even one little hope for freedom, Zahra will seize it:
It’s a dream I never dared to dream. I cannot even imagine what it would be like. Ever since I became jinn, I’ve been bound to my lamp. The concept is foreign, as distant and untouchable as the new moon behind its black veil. But for the first time, I feel hope. And I know I will do everything in my limited power to seize it.

And let me add that she has a cool shape-shifting powers and can turn into any creature she wants, but her favorite form is definitely cats: from kittens to wild tigers. Cute pets *giggles*

A slow-burn, a silent desire that overtakes you when you least expect it. I loved the romance between Zahra and Aladdin. I loved every interaction between them, every dialog - they way they healed each other and gave hope to each other. At first their path was thorny and they were a means to an end for each other.

“I’ve been chased, shot, cut, beaten, and dragged a hundred leagues in the blink of an eye.” He shrugs and offers me a hand. “I need a drink.”

This is how we can summarize their first few hours in each other company: not an inspiring time. But then, step by step, breath by breath, they are getting to know each other, and grudgingly friendship forms between them:
When I look at you, I see a jinni who’s not afraid to tell me what she thinks. Who isn’t afraid to disagree with me. If I make a wish, you could use it to crush me. You’ve done it before, haven’t you? Ruined your masters with their own wishes?”
I lift a shoulder in begrudging agreement.
“I don’t think you’re as helpless as you want people to think.”

They make each other better.
“I always thought there’s no freedom in fighting back—just death. What’s the point of fighting for a lost cause? You’re like my father. You fight back.”
“And you think I’m a fool for it?”
“No. I think . . . you’re brave.”

They are different, but we all well aware that opposites attract. Zahra is the last one to admit her feeling, because of her painful past:
“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.”

But even she has limits and when these two come together... sparkles fly:
Aladdin lifts a hand and passes it slowly over my palm, through the slender flame playing across my skin. The fire dances at his touch, and a shiver runs through me, making the hair on my neck stand on end, as if he’d run his fingers through my hair.
I meet his eyes, feeling the vibrations of the thunder outside echoing in my chest.
The way he looks at me—steady and silent, bold and bright—makes me feel as if the storm outside were trapped inside me, thunder and rain and light, rolling and crashing.

I don't know how anyone can fight such chemistry. Seriously!
I feel shock splinter through him, his body going rigid. Then he relaxes, melting into me, stepping forward until I am caught between him and the wall, the torch crackling beside me. His hands slide down my back, over my hips and thighs, leaving a trail of fire. His heart beats fast enough for the both of us, its thunderous pulse echoing through me.
I bury my hands in his dark hair, fingers knotting around those thick locks. Desire pulls at my stomach, and I lean into him, lifting one leg and wrapping it around his waist. He lifts me, and my other leg coils around him, my skirts sliding up my thighs, my back pressed against the column.
His lips are soft and warm and gentle, underlined with barely restrained urgency. I cannot get enough of him.

I think I was always a goner for a star-crossed lovers, and in this book I caught myself thinking that there's no real chance for them to be together, I even accepted the possibility of an ending without a happy resolution. Jessica Khoury really made me worried for a while, not knowing what to expect in the end. Be ready for a lot of stress while reading the book.

He is the sun, and I am the moon. We must stay apart or the world will be thrown out of balance.

World-building. It may sound primitive, but: WOW, just WOW. The world author created is magical, beautiful, enchanting, mesmerizing. When I found out Jessica Khoury actually wrote the book about east, because it was her grandfather's homeland - this book became more precious to me, I am a goner for stories with such personal background. And, besides, reading the book we can see love pouring from every word and page. And let me explain you how detailed the jinn system in the book! We don't just have a simple mechanism: you own the lamp, you have three wishes - no, it's more complicated than that. If someone possesses a lamp, they have to keep it on their person, thus a special connection between jinn and his master appears. If someone else takes the lamp, they become a new master and the previous one does not held power over jinn until they posses the lamp again. Get it? A really well-thought through system we have here. Then there's a mechanism of granting wishes: in this book it described like a real hard work for jinn to create something, and not just from thin air:

This much power is intoxicating. I can see the possibilities glowing on every surface of the world, the way a sculptor might see forms hidden in a block of stone. I can change it, mold it, melt it in whatever way I need to grant his wish. My hands itch to begin. My body hums with energy.

One more interesting detail: jinn communicate with each other differently than humans do:
We jinn know one another by the patterns of our thoughts, the way humans use facial features. Our names are like the meaning behind names, sensations and images rather than words, communicated by thought and not voice.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that every wish has a price and even jinn are not aware what price it will be:
“Every wish has a price, O Master. Seldom do you—or I—know what that price is, until it has already been paid. Perhaps you’ll wish for great wealth, only to find it stolen away by thieves. Perhaps you’ll wish for a mighty dragon to carry you through the sky, only to be devoured by it when you land. Wishes have a way of twisting themselves, and there is nothing more dangerous than getting your heart’s desire.

This book is also about women's rights. A long time ago there were queens who ruled their kingdoms fairly, and those prospered and has risen beyond imagination. But that was a long time ago, and now men rule and they don't see women as their equals:
“Her mind has been poisoned. She spends too much time reading false histories of mythical queens and fancies herself one of them. Her arrogance and delusions are regrettable, but nothing the firm hand of a husband can’t fix.”
“You animal,” says Aladdin, dropping all pretense of amicability. “You speak as if she were your property. As if she were a horse or a dog to be trained.”
Darian shrugs one shoulder. “Horses. Dogs. Women. They all have their place, and when they try to upset the order, things fall into chaos. If we let queens rule the world, we’d all stay holed up in our palaces embroidering and gossiping.”

But still, a legacy from long forgotten past exists. A group of girls called Watchmaidens swore to protect their kingdom from any and all evils that will come to destroy their home:
“Watchmaidens,” says the princess, looking at each of her girls in turn, her gaze finally settling on me. “Are you with me?” Khavar, her snake coiled tightly on her forearm, draws a short dagger and licks the blade, her eyes glinting with a feral light. “In victory or death, I will be at your side, sister.”
“And I,” the others echo.

Can I join you, girls? You inspire a girl-warrior in me!

The ending (slight spoilers ahead; if you haven't read the book, you may better skip this part) I liked it, I really did, but, still, something wouldn't let me live happily ever after with characters. I want to smack myself soundly on the head for being such a capricious brat, but agh!

Finally, my lingering tale has come to an end. I am sorry if it was too long of a review, but I couldn't help it: I liked the book that much, I needed to pour all my feelings and thoughts on the paper (in this case on computer's display). And don't forget that this book is a stand-alone without a love triangle! A rare beast in YA these days! I invoke you to read this book and to learn the magic of the east, love, friendship, humor; to travel with its characters and to look through universe's eyes and find your own answers to eternal questions this book touches: What are we? Can we fight our destiny? Can we love without fear? And most important one: can we win in the end?

Profile Image for Alafiya.
53 reviews277 followers
August 16, 2016
“I have no form, I have no name. I am the Slave of the Lamp, and your will is my will. Your wishes are my commands.”

The lamp's Jinni can grant your three wishes, here is my first:


Yeah, I am talking about Aladdin.

Habibas, this book is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

Bubbling and sizzling with lush imagination, with magic laced into every word and romance that doesn't make you gag, this book is a literary firecracker!

One of the best novels I have read this year, The Forbidden Wish is the story of Aladdin with a perfect twist. Our Jinni isn't the hideous blue large ass amoeba dude but a headstrong diva, Zahra, with a dark history. In this retelling, Aladdin stumbles across the lamp, discovers Zahra and finds himself thrust into a magical adventure. Zahra, who has been trapped in her lamp for so long, wants nothing as much as she wants freedom. But as fate would have it, Zahra meets Aladdin, the thief who makes her question what she really wants.

As soon as I started reading, I was tugged into a world very rich, very awe-inspiring. From the majestic garden of Roshana to the vast deserts and the Arabic streets of Parthenia to the magnificent Palace. Less writers know how to create a world this striking, this immaculately detailed, this impeccable. The characters are too, unblemished. The bond between each, admirable. The female characters; all positive role models. The action, neat. The plot, strong. The romance, captivating, mesmerizing, beautiful, perfect. Like words can't describe how much I love ice-cream on a particularly hot day, words can't also describe how much I loved the writing of Jessica Khoury.

There is a very realistic feel to this fantasy, to the characters and their chemistry, every single scene between Aladdin and Zahra, reverberating and pulsating with life. Not a big fan of romances, but this one had me enthralled and hypnotized.

*Adds Aladdin to the list of book boyfriends that I won't mind marrying*
January 1, 2020
“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.”

«Which Character from The Forbidden Wish are you?» take the quiz right here! I got Zahra, my favourite character in this book!! Tell me who you got in the comment!

This book was close to perfection!

I haven’t planned to read this book yet. I didn’t even hear about it before its release. But my in a couple of weeks, my feed has been filled by positive reviews and most of my friends seemed to have read it, and loved it. I made the choice to not read spoilery reviews of it before starting my review, I basically knew nothing about it except that it was an Aladdin retelling. As I am a huge Disney fan, as Agrabah always mesmerized me, as Jasmine was my favourite princess when I was younger and also because I wanted to marry Aladdin when I was 11 years old, it was enough to convince me. But I was so far from the truth!

Yes the boy we follow is named Aladdin, and he finds a lamp which holds a jinni in a cavern full of gem and there is a princess and it takes place in the same region. But this is it. The main character is THE JINNI, and that jinni is a GIRL! I have to admit I didn’t see that coming! It was a great surprise and a wonderful idea to make this book what it is. Also, jinnis are cunning and wicked and always want to trick human with twisting their wishes so that they will work against them at the end.
“Every wish has a price, O Master. Seldom do you—or I—know what that price is, until it has already been paid. Perhaps you’ll wish for great wealth, only to find it stolen away by thieves. Perhaps you’ll wish for a mighty dragon to carry you through the sky, only to be devoured by it when you land. 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?”

Other main difference with the movie, the Forbidden Wishes. Or I should say the Forbidden Wish. In the movie, those three are:

~Can’t kill anybody ~ Can't make anybody fall in love ~ Can't bring people back from the dead (well at least this one stays, it's not forbidden but not possible for a jinni to do) ~

However, in the book, Aladdin wants to wish to kill someone and the jinni says he can wish it, and later on, the jinni proposes Aladdin to wish that the princess falls in love with him. I’m twisted but I loved that, it made this book darker, more grown-up.

The Characters

Zahra is a shape-shifting and powerful jinni. She is one of the most powerful ones, able to control all four elements. She has chosen to take the physical aspect of her long lost friend, the previous queen, her Habiba she is known to have betrayed. This is her who started the 400 years’ war against Jinn.

I truly loved Zahra, she was down to earth, decided to learn from her previous mistakes, decided to achieve her goal of freedom, no matter what, but she sometimes feel regrets and she questioned herself. She has a lot of fears and I can totally relate to her. It was a treat to read about her and through her. She also was compassionate and friendly toward girls and strong-headed toward men with bad intention. No misplaced jealousy, no girl hate, a female main character that has other interest than love: thumbs up!
“Turning to face him, I lean in and whisper, “Wish for her love, and I will deliver it to you.”
He smiles grimly. “Then it wouldn’t be love.”
“And what do you know of love?”
“That it must be a choice.”
“Oh, my naïve thief.” I pause briefly to meet his gaze. “Love is rarely a choice.”

Aladdin is very dark in this book, revengeful and a real womanizer. He wants to avenge his parent’s death, killed in front of him because they were part of the rebellion against the throne. I think that deep down he wants to have some reconnaissance and be considered as they were, and not only being a purposeless thief. Even if he doesn’t admit it, he is also loyal

Caspida, the princess, heir to the throne was also a great character, she had the same qualities that Zahra had, she taught us the great lesson about woman independence and benevolence

The romance

It was a great and unexpected love interest we had here, it was refreshing to see doubts that were actually justified and not only with the purpose to make the reader longing. It took me by surprise and was gradually building in front of me. You heard me right: no instalove here, no mice and cat play. True hesitations and great relationship building. And I know it is rare but the world-building lived up to the relationship building! Jessica didn’t neglect one toward the other. She did a wonderful work taking time describing the Jinn system as well as the political aspect of the human world. I lost the notion of time while reading it, I felt feverish and transported somewhere else, I WAS in the book.
“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.”

The ending was a bit lower than the rest of the book, a little bit rushed, few pages more to add details wouldn't have bothered me, some part made me unhappy, but still, it was good enough

Profile Image for Rachel  (APCB Reviews).
331 reviews1,192 followers
January 26, 2016
This is a book I wish I could read for the first time again and again. The writing is addictive, the romance is subtle and smooth, the jinni aspects are captivating, the story is great, and it is a fitting retelling of Aladdin. I didn't expect this one to be as great as it was, and I'm happy to say I've found a book that gives me The Wrath and The Dawn vibes!

I haven't read anything by Jessica Khoury, so I went into this story with no expectations. I knew it was an Aladdin retelling, and I was stoked because Aladdin is one of my favorite Disney movies. Zahra is one of the most powerful jinnis and a curse has confined her to a lamp where she must slave herself to the wishes of humans. Given a chance at freedom by the omnipotent King of Jinn, Zahra must walk a narrow, complex line and decide if she has the heart to trick her latest master who she's starting to fall for in order to gain her greatest wish, freedom, or if that wish has changed to something more. Something like love...

Both Zahra and Aladdin were such complex characters, and I really liked how they grew in this book. Zahra was a character who was easy to relate to and very likable. Her insecurities, fears, and past tragedies were laid bare to us readers, and I couldn't help but root for her to find happiness in the end. Aladdin struggles with his scheme to avenge his parents' death and his resistance to fighting for the common people instead of staying an ignorant, complacent thief. Aladdin and Zahra were such engaging characters, and I love their chemistry. Even from the beginning there seemed to be an invisible, intoxicating string binding these two together. Every smile, every glance, every scowl edged them closer and closer together. The romance was smooth and subtle and completely adorable. I love their banter and all the cute things they say around one another. This forbidden romance is definitely a slow-burn, and I really loved every second of it.

This book is definitely influenced by Aladdin, yet it takes liberties and changes things to make it unique. The jinn world was so richly described, and I love the culture infused in the story. The writing was addictive, and I was impressed by the plotting. The beginning is a bit slower yet still engaging, and it picks up quickly. There's plenty of action, romance, deception, court politics, humor, and more to please readers.

The secondary characters played a significant role in this story too, and I thought they were well developed. The Jafar in this book is just as nasty and Iago takes a different, more evil personality in this book.

There are also some unfamiliar characters added to this story which really strengthened it. And girl power in the form of the Watchmaidens enters the story, and I am stoked! I wish there was a book focused solely on those awesome ladies.

Sacrifice, friendship, and love are integral parts of this story, and I love all that Jessica imparts to readers through those themes. The ending was sweet and perfect and leaves readers wanting more. I completely adored this book, and I'll definitely buy a finished copy!
Profile Image for Lainey.
261 reviews1,571 followers
March 17, 2016
Video Review: coming soon!

Solid 4/5 star read for me, I really really enjoyed this one! Surprisingly, when I first heard about this book a year ago I wasn't sure if I would like it. Aladdin is my absolute favorite Disney movie and still didn't know if I would like this retelling or not. However, this book was such a surprise I just loved loved this re-imagined take on Aladdin. If you didn't know what this book was about, it tells the story of Aladdin and his jinni, if the jinni was a female. Zhara has been a jinni for over 4,000 years and has been imprisoned in the lamp for 500 years after her last master, a queen, is killed by Zhara's own hand leading to the downfall of the queen's empire and a legend of Zhara and her lamp. Aladdin finds this lamp and the story goes from there.

What sold this for me was the writing and the world-building. I've always felt like Arabian myths have a certain aspect of story-telling that other folklore and fairytales just don't have. With Khoury's writing, the story-telling, although a YA narrative, still held that mythical beauty to it that really put me into the story. Now I don't mean this in a bad way (though I can see how people would be annoyed with this) but the descriptions are very very saturated with an overabundance of sensory words and images. However, this works and fits with the world that Khoury created and I don't think I would have liked this world as much if she hadn't described it in this way. With this book, the writing and the world-building go hand in hand. The writing makes the world and the world is so alive because of the writing.

I enjoyed being in Zhara's point of view. When we learn in the first dozen or so pages that she is 4,000 years old, I immediately was nervous. Because she is so old and the fact that this was YA novel in her pov, I was really really REALLY hoping she wouldn't act like a typical YA heroine circa 17 years old. I mean, logically that just doesn't make sense with THAT MUCH life experience behind you. Will I don't really know how a 4,000 year old acts, I was so happy that, especially in the beginning, Zhara didn't act like she was 17. There were these really great moments in the beginning scenes where Zhara is observing everyone very indifferently and kind of rolling her eyes at Aladdin for flirting with other girls and I really liked that about her character because it made sense. Even when she and Aladdin start developing feelings for each other she tries and rises above it, but I mean, she had her moments. However I will get into Zhara's relationships in a few.

Next, Aladdin. I'd be lying if I said at one point I wasn't picturing him in a purple vest and tan balloon pants. I mean, he was the perfect Aladdin for me. Surprisingly he didn't feel like a lead character at all but his go-with-the-flow personality, his lothario attributes, and wanting nothing to do with anything revolutionary really just FIT. Personally, I liked this version of Aladdin. His character lacked direction which was actually really refreshing for a male character in a YA book to be like "I have no idea what I want to do." I also wanted to mention that a lot of tropes you see female YA characters fall into and experience in these books, Aladdin actually experiences and I LOVED THIS. I don't want to give away much for spoilers but if you read this, you'll know what part I'm talking about. I really liked seeing a male being put into that situation and seeing it from his side.

Princess Caspida and her Watchmaidens were amazing. They were also extremely strong characters that I could have seen this whole story seen from their pov. That was the great thing about the plot of this book that it was so much bigger than any of these characters and effected every single person that it could have been told by the lot of them and I really liked that.

I want to quick touch on the relationships with Zhara and her last two masters - Roshana and then Aladdin. So, what caused the war between humans and jinn over 500 years ago was the fact that Zhara loved Roshana as a sister and jinns are forbidden to love humans. So after Roshana, the queen, is killed Zhara is hidden away for 500 years until Aladdin finds her and she, obviously, falls in love with him too, this time as a romance. Here's the thing, the narrative is told almost like a love letter to Roshana as Zhara often used "you" in the narrative. At least to me, I almost would have preferred Zhara and Roshana to have been romantically involved just because as I was reading, I really FELT that their relationship went beyond friendship. And I actually like that more, but instead felt like all this stress on their sisterly bind felt forced. I think Zhara was in love with Roshana.

A few things preventing me from rating it a 5. I actually enjoyed the first half more than the second half. I don't know if it was because of my reading mood or what, but the beginning was explosive and the second half was just ok for me. Another thing was the lack of culture shock of Zhara. She was stuck in a lamp for 500 years and once Aladdin and her return to the city, she doesn't so much as blink. Like, I know it's a fantasy setting, but the people of this world would have advanced A LOT in 500 years, it would be impossible not to.

Overall, I really recommend this novel. I highly enjoyed it!
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