Available February 23, 2016
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 Aladdin from acclaimed author Jessica Khoury.
At first I was a little unsure about reading this book. Then I read the first few chapters as a sample from NetGalley, and that was enough to get me hooked! I loved the vivid descriptions of the landscape and culture. I loved the way Khoury developed this whole culture and hierarchy of jinni. The story felt larger than a simple fairytale and seated in a vast, complex world. I loved that it’s as if Zahra is relating her story to her friend the entire time. It definitely created this personal, humanized voice in what might otherwise have seemed an otherworldly narrator.
The romance was a little steamier than the Disney version I grew up with, but much of the heart and soul of the story remained perfectly intact. Aladdin is indeed the honorable, worthy thief. The princess is strong and independent. And the jinni proves that heart and wit combined make for a formidable adversary.
This is a retelling of Aladdin. It definitely captures the feel of a Middle Eastern setting and characters.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used infrequently.
Some passionate kissing. A boy removes his shirt and unbuttons a girl’s top. At the beginning, a girl hints that Aladdin has been with many other girls.
Different types of jinni possess varied types of magic and power, the most powerful being the Shaitan. Jinni cannot reproduce, so they depend on human sacrifices to replenish their numbers. The jinni of the lamp grants her master three wishes. Sometimes she turns those wishes on her master to bring him ruin. Every wish comes with a price, but she does not always know what the price will be before the wish is made.
Brief battle scenes. A woman fights a man for sport in a club. A woman poisons her enemy. A man found guilty of serious crimes is sentenced to death by beheading.
Aladdin gets drunk on wine (he drinks alcohol more than once). Several references to smoking drugs. A powerful leader has been reduced to a drug addict. It’s unclear if that happened by his choice or if he was manipulated into dependence.