By: Amber Lough
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Fantasy, Mythology
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A jinni. A princess. And the wish that changes everything. . .
Najwa is a jinni, training to be a spy in the war against the humans. Zayele is a human on her way to marry a prince of Baghdad-which she’ll do anything to avoid. So she captures Najwa and makes a wish. With a rush of smoke and fire, they fall apart and re-form—as each other. A jinni and a human, trading lives. Both girls must play their parts among enemies who would kill them if the deception were ever discovered—enemies including the young men Najwa and Zayele are just discovering they might love.
First of all, I just have to commend whoever created the cover for this book, because it’s absolutely glorious! I really the typography, and the lamp, and the smoke coming out of the lamp, and everything about the cover, to be honest! It reminds me of the Tesco exclusive editions of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and that’s not where the DoSaB vibes end! To begin with, THE FIRE WISH has been endorsed by Laini Taylor herself, and throughout the book I found little reminders all of my favourite elements from DoSaB, while the whole time they seemed completely different and unique for this book (if that makes any sense). THE FIRE WISH is a mythological fantasy set half in Baghdad, half in the massive underground cavern home to the jinn. Going into this, I didn’t have a massive understanding of what it was about. I wanted to read a new book that I hadn’t heard much of, and read it through completely oblivious eyes. A good choice on my part, because if I’d known from the beginning what the main plot was going to be about, I don’t know if I would have enjoyed it quite as much! Although the beginning was quite difficult to follow at times, it did grow into an extremely enjoyable and fast-paced read within the first 50 or so pages, and the writing was, for the most part, wonderfully poetic and detailed. Reading the alternating chapters between Najwa–a jinni trained to be a spy in the war against the humans–and Zayele–a girl from a small village on her way to Baghdad to marry the Prince–really absorbed me into the world, and although there were some parts where I questioned who I was reading the perspective of, the alternating chapter style worked so well.
The rest of this review is going to be spoiler-ific, so if you haven’t read this book yet, I recommend you go read it then come back!
Okay, this book was so good. Like, really. So good. It’s been sitting on my shelf for months now, and every time I’d pick up a new book to read I’d look at and tell myself that I was going to read THE FIRE WISH, but I never got round to it. Until last week when I decided that it was finally time. I sat down to read it and raced through the first hundred pages in one sitting. Right from the very beginning it’s very well-written, and the descriptions of the setting are so clear that you really feel like a part of the world. It’s told in alternating viewpoint chapters between Najwa, who we learn is a jinni and trained as a spy in the war against the humans, and Zayele, who has been chosen to marry the Prince of Baghdad. After learning about the two characters and seeing the inner-workings of the jinn world, Najwa breaks the rules and travels to the surface of the Earth where she is caught by a human–Zayele. When Zayele wishes upon Najwa (unknowing that Najwa is a jinni) to go home with Najwa taking her place, things start to go horribly wrong. Rahela, Zayele’s cousin who was travelling to Baghdad with her, tells Najwa that she could pass as Zayele as they look strikingly similar, so Najwa takes on the role of Zayele. And Zayele, instead of returning to Zab, ends up in the Cavern, and has to take the place of Najwa. As the novel progresses and Zayele and Najwa struggle to keep up their facade as each other, a much more sinister plot grows. As Zayele grows closer to Najwa’s friends in the Cavern and Najwa grows closer to Prince Kamal, cracks in their performances of each other begin to show and more and more people become aware that they have swapped lives. All the while, Kamal has been working on creating a weapon of such destructive force that it could end the war between the jinn and the humans. Then very quickly the true and tragic history of the lives of Najwa and Zayele become apparent, and it’s revealed that they are, in fact, twins, with a jinni mother and human father. Hashim, the Vizier of Baghdad, is revealed to be the true villain and is trying to capture a jinni to control and wipe the jinn from existence.
There were so many aspects to this book that I really loved. I’ve read a few books set in Middle-Eastern settings, but this one seemed the most enchanting and mythical, and the way it was described in such detail really helped engross me in the world. The fantastical world of the jinn was also something very interesting to read about, and when Najwa and Zayele are switched, it’s so different to read about the Cavern from a humans perspective, and it was fascinating to see the difference in how the place was described between Najwa and Zayele. The two characters work so well and grow throughout the story in such a natural way, that by the end I was so interested in both narratives, rather than preferring one over the other.
I have to admit, I did kind of predict the whole Najwa-and-Zayele-are-twins thing quite soon after they first met, but the backstory of their mother and father, Fasial and Hashim, was so cruel and so beautifully written that having predicted that they were twins didn’t detract from the story at all. And talking of Faisal, his death was so sudden, and his funeral scene so heartbreaking. I didn’t realise until his death that I had grown so attached to him, and now that he’ s gone it’s was so sad to see that Najwa was left, again, without a father-figure.
And finally, the last few paragraphs left the book on such a massive cliffhanger that I did not see coming, and left me so eager for the next book in the series, THE BLIND WISH, which comes out this summer!
I have to again make a comment on the writing. Amber Lough has crafted this book in a really beautiful way. The narrative flows so nicely, and fits so well into both the story and the two main characters. While at a few points it’s difficult to distinguish between the two viewpoints, for the most part it’s clear who is narrating, and even when it seems difficult, I’d say it works well for the story, showing just how similar the two character are. As always, there were so many parts of this book that I loved, and so many parts that I felt could have been better, but the parts I loved vastly outweighed the others.