The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury brings a fresh take on a familiar tale and manages to bring us on a magical and meaningful ride
The Forbidden Wish is a retelling of Aladdin’s Wonderful Lamp, one of the tales of Arabian Nights, aka One Thousand and One Nights.
And pleasantly surprising is the fact that, although it is a retelling, there are several details about it that point towards the original source. But luckily, there’s enough of a difference about the story that author Jessica Khoury has made it her own, and done so quite well.
With the similarities and differences is a fun and adventurous story about Aladdin and the jinni, who happens to be a female in this version. Yes, of course that changes quite a few things about what happens in The Forbidden Wish as compared to the original. But this twist just makes it all the more fun.
Aladdin is still the cocky good-looking thief, and when he finds the jinni, he still is granted three wishes. The relationship that develops between while the jinni is in his possession is not rushed and feels natural, not forced. However, being as the story is told in first person through the perspective of the jinni, it limits our ability to find out just how Aladdin feels and thus we are just as much in the dark as the jinni when it comes to his feelings about her, and makes us want to just keep going forward, to see how things turn.
There are other factors, too, that prevent Zahra, the jinni, to want a relationship with Aladdin, including that of her history, which plays a big part in the decisions she makes, and the consequences of loving a human. Of course, having the chance to be free from her lamp also plays a big part as well.
Another development to the story is of the princess of the city. Let’s just say, the females in this story don’t sit back and let the guys do all the work. It was an obviously positive direction to take where females in stories are concerned. The princess is pretty and tough and has her own agenda to deal with, especially when there are the villains.
And there are villains. Zahra has hers, Aladdin has his, and the princess has hers. Despite the fact that they’re the bad guys and nothing more, sometimes it works well that way, and it does so in this book.
For the most part, this retelling is pretty good and having Zahra as the perspective gives us a refreshing look into an old tale that excites us and enchants us and allows us to just enjoy the story. It’s pretty simplistic in that sense, but there is enough of a difference to make it original and fun overall.