Dripping in magic, strong women, and forbidden love.

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THE FORBIDDEN WISH

A Middle East–inspired fantasy version of “Aladdin and the Magic Lamp.”

Jinni Zahra, long imprisoned in her lamp, has languished for hundreds of years in a dead city as punishment for a mysterious transgression against her kind, one that also resulted in the betrayal of the warrior queen who last held the lamp, whom Zahra still mourns with the term of endearment “Habiba.” A young thief guided by a magic ring finds the city and lamp, freeing her. Other jinn quickly offer her a bargain from their ruler: he will free her from the lamp if she rescues his son, imprisoned in Aladdin’s home city—a deal with a strict time limit. Zahra uses Aladdin’s desire for vengeance against the drug-addled king’s brother—the sadistic power behind the throne—for his revolutionary parents’ deaths and the ill treatment of the peasantry. Aladdin’s audacious and bold but unable to kill, so Zahra offers an alternative revenge: he will seduce and marry the crown princess, become king, and expel his enemies—bringing them to the palace and supporting her mission. But iron-willed Caspida is no typical princess, and Zahra’s feelings for Aladdin steadily grow—despite the taboo against jinni-human love that destroyed her Habiba. Khoury allows Zahra to narrate in the first person, placing her in a distinct fantasy world that draws on Middle Eastern tropes but is no cognate of real-world geography. Though the dynamic ending fully concludes their story, readers will likely long for more stories—say, 1,000 of them.

Dripping in magic, strong women, and forbidden love. (Fantasy. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-59514-767-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue.

THE BETROTHED

From the Betrothed series , Vol. 1

In an imagined setting evoking medieval England, King Jameson of Coroa pursues Hollis Brite.

The independent teenager makes Jameson laugh, but she lacks the education and demeanor people expect in a queen. Her friend Delia Grace has more knowledge of history and languages but is shunned due to her illegitimate birth. Hollis gets caught up in a whirl of social activity, especially following an Isolten royal visit. There has been bad blood between the two countries, not fully explained here, and when an exiled Isolten family also comes to court, Jameson generously allows them to stay. Hollis relies on the family to teach her about Isolten customs and secretly falls in love with Silas, the oldest son, even though a relationship with him would mean relinquishing Jameson and the throne. When Hollis learns of political machinations that will affect her future in ways that she abhors, she faces a difficult decision. Romance readers will enjoy the usual descriptions of dresses, jewelry, young love, and discreet kisses, although many characters remain cardboard figures. While the violent climax may be upsetting, the book ends on a hopeful note. Themes related to immigration and young women’s taking charge of their lives don’t quite lift this awkwardly written volume above other royal romances. There are prejudicial references to Romani people, and whiteness is situated as the norm.

Skip this uninspired entry into the world of medieval love and court intrigue. (Historical romance. 13-16)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-229163-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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