Review: The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

Review: The Forbidden Wish by Jessica KhouryThe Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury
Published by Razorbill on February 23rd 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Retelling, Young Adult
Pages: 340
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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 the Aladdin story from acclaimed author Jessica Khoury.


I’ve been burned before by Aladdin/1001 Nights retellings, so I went into this with a bit of trepidation. I’m happy to say that The Forbidden Wish worked out pretty well for me. I ended up reading in one sitting! The writing, the magic, the adorable Aladdin just swept me away.

First of all, our protagonist of the story isn’t Aladdin, but Zahra the jinni. She’s telling her long gone friend (and us) a story. There’s a few things that are similar to the story of Aladdin, but for the most part, this story stands on its own merits. Aladdin still ends up in the palace as a fake prince, there’s still a Jafar-esque bad guy, but there’s also a mission that Zahra must complete or she must face the consequences.

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?

Zahra was an interesting character with her ups and downs. She’s pretty badass, a powerful jinni but also a bit cynical (being trapped in a lamp for hundreds of years can do that to you) and has her vulnerabilities. Aladdin was definitely one of my favourite character in the books despite not really developing a lot character-wise. He’s mischievous, he charms and flirts, and you can’t help but fall for him.

“You’re very pretty,” he murmurs, his voice thick with sleep, “for a jinni.”

“Have you met many jinn?”

“No.” His lips curl into a dazed grin. “But I’ve met a lot of pretty girls.”

Caspida, the princess, is pretty awesome. She’s definitely no damsel in distress! She and her Watchmaidens are badass warriors and I definitely wouldn’t mind if they got their own story!

So the romance. I enjoyed it. It didn’t feel to forced and I liked the development of Zahra and Aladdin’s relationship.

“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.”

It definitely wasn’t insta-love and by the end I was invested! I liked the road block to a happily ever after was more than just two people who wouldn’t figure it out. There was definitely some big barriers in the way! (But no love-triangle!)

“You know we don’t stand a chance,” I whisper.

Aladdin looks down at me, his hand squeezing mu arm. “We’re still alive, aren’t we? Come on, Smoky. Where’s your sense of adventure?”

Overall, this was a beautifully written story inspired by the tale of Aladdin. This was my first Jessica Khoury, but it definitely won’t be my last! If you love Arabian Night-esque stories, great world-building and a magic, this is worth the risk. It might have taken me almost a year, but no regrets.

About Jessica Khoury

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 traveling the world in search of stories and inspiration.

Jess currently lives in Greenville, South Carolina. She is the author of Origin, Vitro, and forthcoming Kalahari.


Author: Cyn

noun. a bum OT, procrastinator. reader. eater. sleeper. music listen-er. movie go-er. Loves food too much.

13 Replies to “Review: The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury”

  1. oh I read the preview of this from amazon kindle thing and I really enjoyed it. It sounded very good, very different o.o and I honestly don’t know many books in this kind of setting or retelling, so that’s a big plus

  2. I remember wanting to read this book a lot because of that cover (super shallow I know!!) Glad to hear you enjoyed it and may have to go check it out again. Great review!!

  3. I have this on my shelf and now I know I remember why I wanted to read Forbidden! Those quotes – your killing me. Glad this one worked great for you, Cyn!! 🙂

  4. I have so much love for this book, Cyn! I listened to the audiobook on a whim last year and I LOVED IT! I LOVE Zahra and Aladdin and the whole jinni war,,. The banter was fun and Caspida captured my heart, too! Also no insta-love! I’m a little bummed that it is only a standalone… I REALLY want to know more about Zahra and Aladdin and of course, Princess Caspida and her ladies (okay, I forgot what they were called)

  5. I have been wanting to try this book for a while now. So need to get it. I love the setting and the fact that it isn’t insta-love or a triangle! Pet peeves of mine. 🙂 Love those quotes and it makes me want it even more. Brilly review!!

  6. Hey, this one does sound good. I’ve actually never read an Aladdin retelling, but I have read Arabian Nights so I think I’d be picky about how the story was done. I like how you describe the focus is on Zahra and her very real barriers. Good quotes, too.

  7. A lot of people seem to have mixed success with Aladdin/1001 Nights retellings! I’m not sure what it is about these stories that can be so hit or miss, but it definitely makes me wary. This one sounds promising though, especially Zahra!

  8. This wasn’t even on my radar, and I do love a good retelling! Wonderful review.

  9. I loooooooooved this book! Definitely one of my favorite Aladdin retellings! Aladdin himself was so, so great. I did like Zahra a lot but both of them are wonderful. The romance was easily my favorite pat of the book. A certain scene made it to my Swoon Thursday feature… you know which one. 😉 Great review, Cyn!

    Have a fabulous weekend. =)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

  10. You know, I can’t decide if I like the thought of an Aladdin retelling or not yet. They always sound amazingly good but something is holding me back about it. This one though, the lack of insta-love the badass princess and Zahra are really compelling elements. Great review!

  11. I agree, I really enjoyed this one too! I loved the writing- it was beautiful, and some of the quotes were just so thought provoking and profound. I also totally agree about Caspida’s girls getting their own story, I would definitely read that! So glad you liked it too, great review!!

  12. Like you, I’ve read a couple of Aladdin retellings that weren’t fantastic and I think I was lumping these in with those. I’ll definitely have to check this one out now!

  13. I’m glad that you were able to enjoy this book even though you’ve read a lot of Aladdin retellings. I’ve only read The Wrath and the Dawn myself, so I was curious about this one. It sounds like it follows the story vaguely, but has it’s own main character and plot line, which makes this one even cooler.

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