“If you’re not free to love, you’re not free at all.”
Zahra is one of the last shaitan, the most powerful of the jinn able to command all of the elements. Her power as a conjurer is unparalleled. But even that isn’t enough to save the queen who dared to befriend her. Instead her city is destroyed leaving Zahra trapped inside her lamp among the ruins she helped create.
Five hundred years pass until Aladdin finds her lamp and brings Zahra into a world where magic is forbidden and jinn are feared above all else.
When the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to win freedom from her lamp, she draws Aladdin into a dangerous web of court politics and brewing rebellion to try and accomplish her task.
As Zahra comes closer to winning her freedom, she realizes that she has also grown closer to Aladdin. A human and a jinni can have no future together—not when their love is forbidden—but still Zahra cannot change her heart. In a world where every wish has a price, Zahra will have to decide if her freedom is worth the steep cost of her heart in The Forbidden Wish (2018) by Jessica Khoury.
The Forbidden Wish is a thoughtful and inventive retelling of a story you may think you already know inside and out.
Zahra’s narration is powerful and enthralling as she struggles to reconcile her position as a jinn with her own wants and desires. She holds no illusions about Aladdin. She has seen a thousand and one masters in her time and she expects Aladdin to be no better. But instead of a master and his jinni, Zahra is surprised to realize that Aladdin treats her as an equal–a shocking dynamic that plays out against a backdrop of political unrest and brewing rebellion as both Zahra and Aladdin are drawn into a princess’s fight to claim her throne.
When their dangerous friendship becomes something even stronger, Zahra has to confront the painful reality that her freedom might come at the cost of losing Aladdin forever. Zahra’s narrative is imbued with powerful feminist themes as she begins to understand that she has everything she needs to save herself without any bargains or rescue.
The Forbidden Wish is a lush and vibrant story that is as romantic as it is empowering. A must-read for fans of fairy tale retellings and nuance fantasy. Highly recommended.
Possible Pairings: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh, Bound by Blood and Sand by Becky Allen, The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty, Becoming Jinn by Lori Goldstein, Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton, Ella, Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, A Thousand Nights by E. K. Johnston, Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan