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The Forbidden Wish


The Forbidden Wish

As fairy tale retellings pepper more and more shelves in bookstores across the country, this reviewer wondered when stories from other parts of the world would be retold just as well in YA books. But with her latest book, FORBIDDEN WISH, Jessica Khoury manages to reinvent the story of Aladdin without drawing too heavily on the classic 1992 film. She adds a compelling romance and excellent world-building to revivify a classic tale.

Trapped in a lamp, Zahra is a jinn who wants more than anything to escape from her portable prison. So she understandably perks up when a young man approaches her long-undisturbed resting place and frees her in exchange for the customary three wishes. But things have changed dramatically for Zahra in the five centuries since her devotion to one of her past “masters” caused the downfall of those she loved most. She has since vowed to never let her heart compromise her mission, but her new “master” takes her by surprise.

Khoury balances stellar romantic tension with a well-built fantasy world.

Aladdin isn’t your average teenager --- he’s on the run from the prince of his home city of Parthenia. More than a thief, he’s the classic romance hero: a playboy who was deeply wounded in the past. Zahra expects to do little more than fulfill his wishes, but she finds herself drawn to the troubled youth with a heart of gold. But when she’s approached for a secret mission by her own overlord, the King of the Jinn, Zahra’s heart --- and the fate of the world --- are on the line.  

Khoury balances stellar romantic tension with a well-built fantasy world. Aladdin is deeply entrenched in the difficult politics in his native land, beautifully brought to life by the author. The current king is an aged drug addict and the heir to the throne is the kick-butt Princess Caspida, whose ambitions are circumscribed by patriarchal structure. Khoury overextends herself a few times, casting too wide of a worldbuilding net for a short YA novel, but her solid conflicts and charming characters more than make up for this.

Reviewed by Carly Silver on March 1, 2016

The Forbidden Wish
by Jessica Khoury