5 Things I Loved About The Forbidden Wish

January 20, 2017 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 4 stars, Books, Reviews

5 Things I Loved About The Forbidden WishThe Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury
Published by Razorbill on February 23rd 2016
Source: Borrowed
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic
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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 wasn’t sure whether I was going to like The Forbidden Wish, as retellings can always go wrong and I love Aladdin too much for that. But thankfully, I found myself absolutely loving the trapped jinni Zahra, the ever charming Aladdin and the magical Persian setting.

Here’s 5 things I loved about it:

1. A successful Aladdin retelling

I love it when retellings take on the setting and characters of the original, but breathe new life into the story and the characters. It was refreshing to see Zahra (the original Aladdin Genie) as a woman, also striving for her freedom. I loved how Aladdin retained his street rat, charming personality, but he wasn’t the cause of the rebellion. But the setting still remained as the original with the wonderful Persian setting, the magic and the lamp. It felt familiar, but it added enough twists in there to be unique.

2. Well developed characters

I love how this wasn’t all about the romance – both Zahra and Aladdin had their own goals and motivations – Zahra wanted freedom, and Aladdin is a thief who wants revenge for his parents. Each of these characters had internal conflicts – Zahra about the eventual betrayal of Aladdin, and Aladdin who started falling in love with Zahra and not wanting to let her go, which would sacrifice his own goal. Zahra is all powerful, determined to meet her goals but her compassion is her ultimate downfall. I loved her character and her voice.

3. Slow burn romance

I knew there was going to be a romance in the novel, there always is going to be one given it’s about Aladdin, but romance is probably at the back of everyone’s minds. Aladdin is focused on his goal to avenge his parents, using his wishes to achieve that. On the other hand, Zahra wants to gain freedom from her lamp by freeing the King of Jinni’s son from PartheniaIt’s almost as if falling in love was something that happened over time, and when they did, oh my gosh there were so many feels. Their chemistry felt completely natural and you could see their feelings developing over time.

4. Magical Persian setting

I love the Middle Eastern setting in books, from the desert and it’s perils, to the sultan and the princess, to magic and mythology. The setting in Forbidden Wish was done beautifully. With the addition of Zahra’s perspective as a Jinni, it had such a sumptous, magical setting. More books like this please.

5. Focus on female friendships

Discovering Zahra’s greatest love of all time was for the queen Roshana, who treated her as an equal despite being a slave to her commands was such a pleasant surprise. I loved the sisterly friendship that they had and how they could move mountains with it. I also loved Princess Caspida and her gang of Watchmaidens who acted like maidens at the court but when night came, they were each deadly in their own right. I just love the heavy focus on feminism in the novel and how, even in the olden day Persian setting, females can kick ass.

Some minor issues

There were of course, some things that I did have a problem with, which included:

  • the second-person narrative which would crop up every now and then where Zahra would address her “Habiba”. It’s written as if the whole thing is addressed to this person in mind, but it does jar you out of the story when she randomly appears as if she’s speaking to them, rather than being in the story which is written in first person.
  • the ending, although incredibly epic, was quite rushed and I wanted more of a build up.
  • the villainising of the evil Nardukha was so convenient, particularly where Zahra makes a particular choice in the book.


If you’re wondering whether to give The Forbidden Wish a shot, then I definitely urge you to pick it up. It’s a beautifully written Aladdin retelling with strong characters, girl power and feels that will make your heart soar. I’m so glad I ended up giving it a shot, I love the Middle Eastern setting!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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45 responses to “5 Things I Loved About The Forbidden Wish

  1. LeslieAnn Khoury

    I love this book so much! It is pretty awesome (and pretty), and Jessica is a pretty great author. Have you read any of her other books? Such as Origin, Vitro, and Kalahari?

  2. I actually was thinking about picking up this the other day. You’ve mentioned many aspects that I love in books: multidimensional characters, slow burn romance, female friendships. I like when the author uses the original fairytale as an inspiration and writes his own story. And I can’t wait to immerge into Persian setting. I’m not a big fan of the second-person narrative, thanks for mentioning this. Wonderful review, Jeann! I’m going to start this one soon.

    • Yay, I'm so glad to hear you're keen on the setting and the characters, female friendships and romance! There were so many great things about this book. Thankfully there wasn't too much of the second person perspective! Thank you Ksenia for all of your lovely comments! <3

  3. I totally agree with you on all of this! I had expected mostly romance too, but was so happy that the other relationships, especially the super strong female friendships, were incredibly important too. I do agree with you about the bit at the end being rushed/convenient, but it is definitely still a solid book. I thought the writing was really strong too! So glad you loved this one, fabulous review!

    • Yippee, I'm so glad you enjoyed this one too Shannon! I loved the female friendships although I wish there was MORe! Thank you so much, I'm so glad everyone's keen on reading it now!

  4. JessFairytales

    I really need to read this. I have heard wonderful things about The Forbidden Wish. I am glad it was a good fairytale retelling, because sometimes those make me nervous. Great review, Jeann! 🙂

    • Yay, I'm so glad to hear that you're keen on reading this! Yeah, I've read a few retellings that are like a regurgitation of the source. Thanks Jess!

  5. annajayne99

    I haven't actually come across this book yet, but you have definitely convinced me that I will be giving it a go sometime in the future.

  6. I have heard so many good things about this book! And that gorgeous cover is another reason why I should read it because looking at that when reading would be such a delight.

    It's always the best retellings that retain the heart of the original story, but also add their own flair and unique aspects, as well. And it sounds like The Forbidden Wish does this really well! And with developed characters and a slow burn romance, as well. I need this book in my life!

    Lovely review, Jeann!

    • Yessss, I love retellings that are still recognisable but add enough twists to call it like their own. You really do Chiara and I hope you enjoy it!

  7. Marianne @ Boricuan Bookworms

    SEems like despite the things you didn't like, the book was still a hit with you! Amazing review, Jeann! I have seen this book everywhere so I have to get to it soon.

  8. Oh woooowser, this sounds amazing! I can imagine you might have been a bit hesitant to read this one Jeann, I'm always worried with my favourites being retold in case an author doesn't do the original story justice. But this sounds so wonderfully written and I love the sound of the slow burn romance not being at the forefront of the narrative either. So refreshing in YA. Beautiful review Jeann, so glad you enjoyed this one <3

    • Yay, I'm so glad you love the sound of the romance and the writing Kelly! I really enjoyed it, it's rare to find a fairytale retelling that does it right you know?

  9. Bec

    Omg I need this!! I love Persian inspired fantasy settings a lot and the addition of slow burn romance and complex characters is all I need to hear to convince me this book is a must read!!

  10. HIII JEANNN!!! I'm FINALLY back to commenting and what a post to see! This book sounds amazzzzinnnnggggg!!! ALADDIN RETELLING, how could I NOT be excited & you've made me HEAPSSS more excited! I'm glad the retelling was accurate, I like to be able to see the original plot in a new story! The setting sounds magical! ALSO FEMALE FRIENDSHIPS ARE THE BEST!

    • Yippee, I'm so glad you're keen on reading it Julia! There was definitely enough here to keep me interested especially loving Aladdin as well! Yesss books that focus on female friendships are my favourite.

  11. OMG JEANN THIS SOUNDS LIKE A GREAT STORY!!!!! <3 I've heard of this book, but I never really bothered to check it. I would love now to grab a copy and read it haha. Retellings are amazing to read, and I love how it's centered on Aladdin. And female friendships are always the best! Seriously, this makes me so excited 🙂 Great review and I enjoyed reading through it!

    • Yay, I'm so glad you're keen on checking it out Jillian! I think it's so underrated IMO because I really enjoyed it! Yippee, I hope you enjoy it, let me know your thoughts if you do pick it up!

  12. I don't think I've ever read an Aladdin retelling, so right there I'm curious. Not sure about the second-person narrative bit, but overall this looks like something I'll have to check out. Thanks for the review.

  13. keionda

    Can you believe I've never EVA read a retelling? They are kind of hit or miss with me, I think 😉 But I'm glad this one was good and didn't sway too much form the original story. 🙂 And that romance, YASSS, it sounds sweet, just like in the movie. 🙂

  14. Well, well, well. This is one beautifully written fairy tale retelling.
    Imagine the story of Aladdin. Now change the sex of the jinni who serves him, add in some supernatural politics, some courtly intrigue, a handful of badass female warriors, two peoples on the brink of war, and you basically have this book in a nutshell.
    Was it perfect? No. I definitely had some issues with it. But now that I've finished it and am staring down at my notes, I can honestly say that I don't even want to get into them, because, in the end, they took very little away from my overall enjoyment of this.
    And doesn't that say everything?
    In short: this is a stunningly written, highly captivating, intoxicating blend of romance, mysticism, adventure, and intrigue.

    • Absolutely, there was enough here to spice up the original story but still remain faithful to the original! I'm so glad that you're interested in reading it Mari!

  15. I was on the fence about picking this book up but your review has definitely convinced me to give it a try 🙂 Also the cover of this book is stunning. Thanks so much for sharing!

  16. Cyn @ Bookmunchies

    Yes, yes, yes!! I just loved the setting and the badass females (and friendships) and the slow burning romance (: I'm glad you read it so it got me to read it haha.
    Fantastic review, Jeann!

  17. I've had this books since it came, I even pre-ordered it. And I still haven't read it. I don't really know why this happened, but I hope to fix it this year. Thanks for the review, definitely made me more excited to read it.

  18. deathbytsundoku

    Great review! I really love the format– it was easy for me to identify what you enjoyed, what you disliked, and why. Rushed endings are always frustrating to me. Particularly when a book is going so well! That said, I ADORE the exploration of female relationships. I don't think that happens enough in YA and I would love to see more of it.
    Thanks for reviewing this book! I hadn't heard of it before, and now it's on my TBR. 🙂

    • Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed the format! I do this when I don't want to give too much away hehe. Yeah, especially when it takes time to build up everything and the rest of it feels so rushed! Oh well, I loved the female friendships in here and everything. I'm so glad you added it to your TBR, hope you enjoy it when you get the chance!

  19. Kelly

    I've had this book for ages and haven't read it yet! This sounds like one of the better retellings out there – I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed it! Also, that book photo you took is simply gorgeous!

  20. karaterzis

    I still can't believe I haven't read this one yet! I've had my eye on it since I first heard about it, but just haven't seen it around where I live, so that sucks a little. I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Jeann. The world sounds fabulous, too. Does it have a similar sort of setting that THE WRATH AND THE DAWN did? The worldbuilding sounds similar in both books, and I hope so, because the fantasy world in TWATD was fantastic. And ahhh, female friendships! I love it! I definitely need to get my hands on this one…and soon. Thanks for the lovely review xx

    (by the way, is commentluv down? I literally cannot get it working at all!!)

    • Weird, I didn't realise CommentLuv wasn't working on the blog! I'll have to look into further. I ended up having to get this out from the library, and I loved it so much I ordered it online lol. It does have that Persian sort of setting with the sands and the sultans but I found TWATD more atmospheric in some way, this one was more character focused? The female friendships were the best in this book! Thank you Kara!

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