The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury: Review & Giveaway


Welcome to my stop on The Forbidden Wish blog tour! Today I shall share my review of this lovely book, and give you a chance to win your very own copy (thanks to the always fabulous Penguin Teen!).

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury: Review & Giveaway The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury
Published by Razorbill on February 23rd 2016
Pages: 352

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 Arabian Nights from acclaimed author Jessica Khoury.


Confession time: I probably watched Aladdin once, like when it came out. Because I am old. I umm also used to play the video game. On my Sega. (See how old?) Anyway, these things are about all I know of Aladdin’s story. And that A Whole New World song, because isn’t that just an earworm waiting to happen? (Sorry in advance, I really am.)

There’s a point to this, I promise, other than my stroll down early 90s memory lane. Basically, I don’t really remember the Disney-fied story. There was Robin Williams, the guy who played DJ’s boyfriend on Full House, and like, bread, and maybe a monkey or something? Nor do I know the actual story. I do, however, remember loving the idea of it, and the setting, so I was super excited to read this book, especially without having any real preconceived notions about the story.

And it didn’t disappoint! For reasons. And of course I am going to tell you them! 

  • The writing was gorgeous. This is my first Jessica Khoury book- and certainly not my last- even though I have her entire first series on my bookshelf. But the loveliness of the writing blew me away. I think it had the perfect ambience for the story- not dramatic, just… lovely. Appropriate, with some passages that really made my emotions stir and felt very powerful in just the right places. Very early in the book, Zahra and Aladdin had an exchange that really set the tone, for me.

    “‘…Wishes have a way of twisting themselves, and there’s 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?'”

    In this moment, it’s clear how deathly serious the jinni process is- and how serious Aladdin is about using it.

  • The way the story itself is told is fabulous too. It’s from Zahra’s point of view, but she’s also talking to the last human she served- and loved-, a queen named Roshana. It’s clear how strong their bond was, and even still is after the passage of many centuries. One of the biggest jinni rules is that they’re forbidden to fall in love with a human, and that means any kind of love. (Incidentally, the idea that friendship love can be just as strong as romantic love was also awesome.) The friendship she had with Roshana brought about Roshana’s downfall, and even hundreds of years later, the people blame jinni, and Zahra specifically, for it. Zahra also blames herself, because she knew the costs, but was unable to not love the queen. Her recounting the past and the present to her friend is another beautiful element of the book that makes it special.
  • Aladdin is a very fun character, and he and Zahra play well off each other. Zahra is more serious, more aware of the consequences, and frankly, more jaded and overwhelmed from living for so long. Aladdin is more willing to take risks and break rules, and their personalities compliment each other perfectly, even long before there is any inkling of romantic feelings budding.
  • All the characters are incredibly complex. Goodness, these characters all struggle with demons. Life isn’t easy- no matter if you’re a human or a jinn- and they are all being pulled in multiple directions by multiple people. And there are a lot of really fabulous female characters who are absolutely not afraid to kick some ass when needed, and I loved that.
  • I was definitely invested in the outcome! And the plot was good- there was action, and downtime scenes, and it flowed really well. There was a lot of action toward the end- I was a little overwhelmed, but that’s probably more of a “me” thing than the book’s issue.

I only had a few minor issues, really. One was that it did start off a bit slow for me, and I wasn’t really sure what was going on. But once it picked up, I was absolutely enjoying it. The other thing was that at times, there were a lot of side characters to remember, and I had to go back and re-read a few parts, especially during the action scenes, because I couldn’t quite keep track of who was who amidst the fast moving plot.

Bottom Line: Overall, absolutely a win. I shipped the romance, I enjoyed the plot, and thought the characters were great. And when you add a vivid desert setting, it’s all even better!

 **Quote taken from uncorrected proof, subject to change.


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Penguin has been kind enough to provide a copy of The Forbidden Wish to one lucky U.S. winner! So, have at it, and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Do tell: What would you wish for if you stumbled upon your very own jinni lamp? Remember, wishes can have consequences… 😉 

Posted February 19, 2016 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in Giveaway, Review / 22 Comments

22 responses to “The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury: Review & Giveaway

  1. SO I KIND OF HAVE AN INFATUATION WITH PERSIAN FANTASY SO I NEED THIS. *flails* Although my sister read Origin by Jessica Khoury and really didn’t like it? So that worries me…buuut, I just need all the retellings of ever, so I’m going to try this one. I AM. XD

    Can I just realise for a book-I-really-want-to-read to appear magically on my doorstep each morning?

    • I HAVE heard that this is very different from Origin, if that helps? I am sad that she didn’t like Origin though, because I ummm bought the whole series one time. Oopsie? I am very curious as to your thoughts on it! ANd YES- I think a must read on your doorstep is a fabulous wish!

  2. I’m excited to read this one, Shannon and I’m glad that despite the slow start it wound up being pretty great for you! I love the sound of Aladdin especially with his more playful attitude. And yesss to complex characters! I can never say no to that! I’ll be bothering you once I read this one!
    Lovely review, Shannon.

  3. I really don’t like slow starting reads but if it pays off in the end I might be willing to give it a try. Plus it’s an Aladdin retelling can’t go wrong with Aladdin.

  4. I had wanted to read “The Forbidden Wish,” but I was unsure about whether it would end up being a good retelling, because “Aladdin” is hard one to be creative with. After reading your review, though, I know that I need to read this book when it comes out!

    Great review!

  5. I sooooo want to read this! I will admit that I LOVED Disney’s Alladin.. I can probably say most of the diaglog and sing the songs but it’s been years since I last watched it. Would it be too geeky for me to have a Jasmine and Alladin doll?! Yes, yes I did! Haha ?

    I hope it’s a good jinn story because the other one I read was a DNF.. I will be reading this tho and will trust your judgement! I’ll be waiting for this on audio!

    I probably shouldn’t be in possession of a lamp at all because I know I would get super VAIN and selfish… I mean, why NOT?! Hahaha my first wish would be to not gain weight.. ehemmm and then riches… and maybe world peace… ???

  6. I would wish for hundreds upon hundreds of brilliant doctors finding cures for all of the world’s diseases. Then, maybe not only I but millions of others could find the medical assistance or cures they need.

  7. YES! This is one of my most anticipated reads of the month, so I am so glad to hear you liked it so much Shannon! It sounds like such an amazing and creative retelling and I’m so glad it lived up to your expectations. 🙂 Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! ♥ (Thank you for the giveaway too – you are so sweet!)

  8. Ohhhhhh I’m going to ask about this more in the DM. To be honest, I’m glad you enjoyed this so much because I am a little tired of seeing all the Jinni books and seeing them not be as great as the hype suggests. (Except for The Golem and the Jinni, which was 100% fantastic). But I am really intrigued by this FRIENDSHIP LOVE. And why is it she can’t fall in love with humans? Because that is sad 🙁

  9. I LOVED this book so much. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from this one, but WOW it’s actually one of my favorites! I loved the Middle Eastern culture elements and Zahra’s POV. She is definitely such a complex and likable protagonist. Aladdin’s character was hilarious too. I shipped that romance so much and thought Jessica did a wonderful job with it. The secondary characters were great too! What I especially loved is that although this is a retelling, Jessica really makes it her own. I’d love a story surrounding the handmaidens. They remind me of the assassin nuns in Grave Mercy. Great review!

  10. “A whole neeeeeew world; A new fantastic point of view; No one to tell us no or where to go; Or say we’re only dreaming” – me right now. Not that I’m complaining it’s like my favorite Disney song ever and I love Disney songs. 😉

    Yay for beautiful writing and shipping and anything to with Aladdin and not only because the Disney character was my biggest crush when I was little (who am I kidding? I love/am crushing on him still). I’m SO EXCITED to read this one, I just got it today and I’m happy to hear that you really enjoyed it.

    And…yeah. I HAVE NO IDEA what I would wish for. An agent? A publishing deal? That’s cheating though and then like…I have this whole fate deal thing, I believe in fate and if I changed things by wishing to be published it could mess everything up because then maybe I wouldn’t be ready or maybe it was my destiny to have a different book published first…and and and. Erm…I think I would crack under the pressure and just…never wish for anything because I would be overthinking everything trying to figure out the best thing to wish for. I’m hopeless. =)

  11. Jen

    I love your review SO much! I am buddy reading this book right now and I literally remember nothing from the movie (I too loved the Sega game ♥). Well, I do remember what the characters looked like….but I think that has more to do with seeing them at Disneyland or from playing the game. But I definitely agree with you on the side characters. I am a little over 20% and there are a lot of names and they aren’t all sticking. But I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed reading it, it’s a lot of fun so far!

  12. I finished this book just the other week and I loved it. I really enjoyed the way that Aladdin and Zahra bounced off each other and it was fascinating to see the wish ‘process’ and it’s consequences.

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