My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Aladdin is my favourite Disney movie, so I had high hopes for this book. I love Disney and fairytale retellings, which sounded like the perfect combination. It was even published by Disney Press, alas it did not live up to my hopes. It was relatively enjoyable by itself, but did not feel like the Aladdin I know and love – even though it is supposed to be a ‘Twisted Tale’ and I expected there to be a darker difference in the stories, I didn’t feel that my beloved characters were familiar. That is where it fell flat for me.
The beginning of the story was very familiar to those who know the movie. We meet Aladdin and his best friend Abu, Jasmine’s only friend is Rajah, Jasmine sneaks out of the palace and explores the marketplace, trouble ensues and Aladdin is jailed. In this version of Aladdin, Jafar acquires the lamp shortly after the trip to the Cave of Wonders. As a result, Aladdin never gets his wishes and Agrabah goes down a dark path pretty quickly. I enjoyed some of the classic lines from the movie being thrown in as it brought the feels. That being said, once the twisting of the tale began I didn’t find the story quite as enjoyable.
I would warn readers who love Disney that this tale is not the happy, magical one that you expect from the House of Mouse. It is certainly twisted. There is murder and death, violence and what I felt to be character assassinations. Jasmine and Aladdin are two of my three favourite Disney characters (Mulan being the third). Aladdin felt relatively familiar, if not quite the same – but Jasmine seemed like an entirely new character. I understand that she goes through a lot of turmoil and her mindset is warped, but she felt like an anti-hero, if not a villain sometimes. That saddened me. Jasmine and Aladdin are my favourite couple in Disney and I was just not rooting for them in this book.
The side characters added an interesting storyline to the tale but didn’t feel developed enough for me. I had a lot of questions about them and the vague comments that never felt resolved. They also helped the tale go down a dark and twisted path.
If you go into this story expecting a unique retelling of Aladdin, with your favourite characters and despite the turmoil a happy ending – you will be disappointed. This is a completely different entity from the movie with little details that make you optimistically hope that it’s going to find it’s way back to the tale you love, but usually doesn’t. I still have hope for this series as a whole and will likely read the other Twisted Tales books.