Length: 11 hrs and 53 mins
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 that 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.
My Thoughts: This was a very captivating story of Aladdin. I haven't read many retellings of the classic folktale, but I am somewhat familiar with the original tale. Usually the story follows Aladdin, so I was interested to "read" the genie's (or jinn) point-of-view. There were a few twists to the tale that had me hooked from the beginning.
Zhara, the jinn, jumped back and forth between her regretful memories and feelings for her "Habiba" and the dangerous mission she led with Aladdin. What fascinated me the most was to learn more about her "Habiba." Her "Habiba" held many secrets as to why Zhara was deemed a dangerous jinn who had to be exiled. It made me wonder what exactly happened to Zhara to hold so much remorse in her heart that prevented her from trusting and loving Aladdin. Of course it was all revealed towards the end with the help of our hero. Now, when it came to the rest of the story, I kept holding my breath in nervousness in trying to find out how Zhara and Aladdin were going to pull off the whole royalty thing. I held my breath even more when feelings began to emerge between these two. I don't remember when was the last time I prayed so hard for two characters to fall in love and end up together, but I did so with this story.
As much as I liked Zhara and Aladdin's characters, I highly enjoyed Caspida's (Princess Jasmine). Caspida sure kicked butt! She was the Phoenix in the story. Women in the Middle East, especially royalty, were only there to serve men, be good wives, and give birth to sons. Here we had an incredibly brave and intelligent princess who knew martial arts. Her and her handmaidens were incredibly awesome. The description of Caspida and her handmaidens were so vivid that I was able to picture them easily. It made me wish that I was part of their gang. Caspida had to be my favorite character.
Now when it came to the world building, it was beautiful and fascinating. Jessica Khoury made sure to give enough detail for the reader to imagine the world that Zhara was living in. It was also interesting to "read" how humans were at war with the jinns. The jinns were described to be a whole different species that was dangerous. However, the story also gave us information as to how jinns were exactly created, which made their race a little bit scary.
This story would have received a higher rating, but it took me a while to get through it because of the reader of the audio production. Cassandra Campbell was a good reader for she was able to capture Zhara's character very well. She was able to accentuate Zhara's feelings, which brought her to life in my eyes. However, Ms. Campbell's voice was too calm for me. I found myself drifting many times, especially in the parts were the politics were being discussed. I had to constantly go back so I could review what I missed after falling asleep or daydreaming. Listening to this audio took me much longer to get through than I expected.
Overall, this was not a terrible production. The story was very well written. I loved "reading" about the genie's point-of-view and I adored how the women were strong in the story. I enjoyed the jumped between the plot and Zhara's lament as she told the story. I also loved the twists of the original tale. I rate this audio production: