With retellings still so popular, I could not wait to get my hands on this retelling of Aladdin. I mean… it is Aladdin. Who doesn’t love this classic tale? This story was beautifully written and masterfully performed. I am already *grabby hands* for the second book.
Zahra is a jinni in a time where magic and jinni are illegal. It is a dangerous time for magic and any jinni caught are kept hidden away as slaves, or worse. Aladdin happens to discover Zahra and her lamp in a dark and mysterious cave, hidden far away from the rest of the world. Aladdin cannot explain how he knew the lamp would be there, other than “he felt pulled to it”. Zahra is thrust back into a world she has not seen for hundreds of years. She also has a very dark past that she fights hard to keep hidden. Zahra uses all magic at her disposal to mask her true identity. When Aladdin, a street thief with a known reputation in the kingdom, is given three wishes, he immediately knows he wants revenge on the king. But what Aladdin doesn’t know is that while Zahra is helping him seek his revenge, Zahra is also battling for her freedom. She is on a mission for the King of the Jinn in the hopes of freeing herself. As the story continues, feelings start to form between Aladdin and Zahra, feelings that neither can ignore. A choice must be made: can Zahra afford to give her heart away again or will she give up those she loves for freedom?
I simply loved Zahra. I loved her wit, her cunning ability to magic her way out of almost any situation, and the way she tried so hard to keep her feelings hidden. She was such a strong and confident protagonist that I had a hard time not tearing through the book to find out what happened with her. I wanted to know about her past, why she carried such a heavy burden on her shoulders, and how Roshana fit into the story. Zahra spent a lot of the book talking to Roshana and once I found out who she was, my heart shattered. I felt she was beautifully written and cannot wait to read more of her. Not to speak bad of Aladdin’s character, but he felt like the same Aladdin we have read before. He was more mature and sure of himself, but he felt the same. There were a lot of other characters, some a lot nicer than others. The Watchmaidens were exciting to read about, as well as Amulen Princess Caspida.
The plot of the story had me engulfed from the first page. This story was not all about Aladdin and him wanting revenge, it was also about Zahra. Her freedom was at stake and would she risk everything to gain it? Would she also risk revealing her dark past for the world to see? So much tension and so many questions! It was so riveting that I couldn’t get enough.
What I enjoyed most about this story was the slow burn romance between Aladdin and Zahra. It is a forbidden romance, as a jinni is never to love a human – no matter what type of form it may take. These two characters did not start out hating each other, but they didn’t instantly like each other either. Zahra saw Aladdin and his three wishes as a chore, just another thing that needed to be done and she would move on. To read on the pages how these two started to slowly let their walls down and truly care for the other was beautiful.
If this book is not already on your radar, it needs to be. I’ll admit, there are a lot of books out right now that are about jinni, deserts, magic, and the sort, but none are like this story. It is a tale weaved so wonderfully that you will be sad when the story ends, because it means you will have to wait until next year for the next story to come out. I hope you will give it a chance because it really is a fantastic story.