Friday, September 9, 2016

The Forbidden Wish

Zahra's lamp was hidden and lost for 500 years, but now she has been found and freed by a thief.  She is bound to him by the ancient magic binds the jinn of the lamp.  She will grant his three wishes, but she has a mission of her own.  The jinni prince, son of the great Shaitan himself, has been imprisoned.  If she can set him free, Zahra will gain her freedom.  After 4,000 years of slavery, what will she do to get her own fondest wish?

Aladdin is a thief.  He was contracted to steal a ring, but once he possessed it, he could feel the ring drawing him out to the desert to some unknown fate.  When he discovers the jinni, he realizes this is his chance to get revenge.  His city is ruled by an ineffectual king and his brother, the vizier.  The vizier is a cruel and treacherous leader who causes pain and chaos all around him.  He executed Aladdin's parents, and now Aladdin will have his revenge.

What neither of them saw coming was love.  Zahra believed she would never love a human again.  500 years ago she dared to love Queen Roshana, to call her sister, but the Shaitan forbids love between human and jinn, and the consequences are destruction.  She can't let this happen again, but love may be the only force greater than revenge or freedom.

There are so many things to love about Jessica Khoury's book.  I love the strong female characters.  Though Roshana is long dead when the story begins, she is a strong presence and a reminder that the now week kingdom was once powerful under the rule of a strong and independent woman. Caspida and her watch maidens are intelligent and physically strong.  Though other male characters buy into the patriarchy, Aladdin admires Caspida for her strength.  Khoury's worldbuilding is excellent and her descriptions lush.  It was the romance between Aladdin and Zahra that fell a little flat for me. It verges on insta-love.  I prefer to read about characters who build a relationship in a more realistic way; however, I do think kids will read and enjoy this book.  Fans of rich fantasy, jinn stories, and romance will love it.  Grades 8 and up.

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