It starts with that first glimpse of smoke-and-sand clouded rooftops, the calls of “Stop, thief!” and the crash of a body hurtling through narrow, winding alleyways.
Then the music starts. That familiar, evocative tune that makes you feel like you’ve wandered right into a mysterious, magical bazaar.
Disney’s new live-action adaptation of Aladdin looks like it’s going to be spectacular.
We’ve enjoyed the films they’ve brought out so far (anyone else find themselves sobbing continuously through Beauty and the Beast?), and Aladdin is high on our list of films we loved as kids, so our expectations are high, our desire to see the desert stars is great, and our love of smart-mouthed genies has been rekindled.
In fact, since getting our first glimpse of the trailer, we can’t seem to get our fill of strong-willed princesses, wish-granting djinnis, and magic carpet rides.
And since we love a good fairytale retelling, we’ve been voraciously reading all the Aladdin retellings, Arabian Nights inspired stories, and desert-based dramas we can get our hands on.
If you’ve also been looking for romantic fantasy books which will take you to a whole new world, we’d recommend you start with these…
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
US Weekly described The Wrath and the Dawn as a “Game of Thrones meets Arabian Nights love story” – and what’s not to love about a concept like that?!
In the land of Khorasan, each night its eighteen-year-old ruler takes a new bride. Each morning, she is executed. But when sixteen-year-old Shazi, vengeful after her best friend was executed, volunteers herself, she soon discovers that there’s more to these murders – and this young ruler – than it first appeared…
This is a beautiful, lyrical book. If you love a mystery dragging you through your epic fantasy, and plenty of angst about whether your heroine is falling in love with a murderer, this is the book for you.
The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury
In this Aladdin retelling, Jessica Khoury reimagines the story as a romance between Aladdin and a female djinni called Zahra. There’s no insta-love here, so the romance feels rewarding – and all the more devastating when Zahra is offered the chance to be free of the lamp forever… if only she betrays Aladdin.
With a strong female lead, a carefully constructed romance, and rich world-building,we think this is everything a fairytale retelling should be.
We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal
Set in a world inspired by Arabia, this is one of the most talked about young adult fantasy books of 2019.
Zafira is legendary for being the only hunter brave enough to go into the forest of the Arz – but no one knows she’s a woman. Nasir is an infamous prince charged with assassinating those foolish enough to defy his father, the sultan.
This book definitely lives up to the hype. There’s so many clever plot twists, *incredible* world-building (especially the descriptions of food – don’t read this when you’re hungry!), and we love an enemies-to-lovers romance.
City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty
City of Brass follows the story of Nahri, a thief and fortune-teller based in Cairo who accidentally summons a warrior spirit, and a Daeva prince called Alizayd.
This magical story set in 18th-century Cairo leads the reader on a fascinating journey through the mythology of djinn and other desert spirits in Middle Eastern folklore. Perfect for those who want a deep-dive into the spirit world.
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
This is the first in a gritty, epic series that slowly builds until you can’t stop turning the pages. Told with an alternating POV between Laia, a lowly scholar who’s dragged into a resistance effort she didn’t want to be a part of, and Elias, who’s desperate to get out of the regime Laia’s fighting against.
This one’s not strictly speaking an Aladdin retelling, but we think the healthy dose of Middle Eastern-inspired folklore, elaborately constructed fantasy world, and romantic feels earn An Ember in the Ashes a place on this list.
And here are a few other honorable mentions if you still haven’t had your fill…
Have you read any of the books on this list? Which is your favorite? Comment below!
About the Author
Helena Rookwood has spent a long time researching all there is to know about Faerie, and she’s happiest when she’s poring over old books and imagining what the world used to be like.
More recently, Helena has also been wondering what the world might be like in the future – whether there will ever be a turn back to the Old Ways, when people cared about stories and the little people and the land they lived on. This was the starting point for her River Witch series, a deliciously dark tale about fairies and witches and earth-magic which is set in post-technology Britain. She promises you’ll love it!
Find her at:
- Website: www.helenarookwood.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/helenarookwood/
- Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17325811.Helena_Rookwood
Helena Rookwood and Elm Vince have a new release inspired by Aladdin, too:
An imperious sultan, an ancient djinni, and a wild princess who wishes to rule…
The Sultan of Astaran was promised the greatest beauty the kingdoms had seen in centuries – an accomplished, raven-haired princess who caught the eye of even the desert spirits. Unfortunately for the sultan, he got Zadie instead.
With dreams of becoming a powerful sultanah, Zadie never expected the sultan to be quite so haughty and traditional. Or so handsome.She definitely didn’t expect to be dealing with brazen bandits, wily spirits, and mysterious thieves.
But Zadie’s determined to prove herself to the sultan and his court. And now she’s stumbled on a secret that might just help her get her wish…
The Girl with Seven Wishes is episode 1 in the romantic fantasy serial Desert Nights, a fairytale retelling inspired by Aladdin and Arabian Nights.
New installments in this series of novellas release every 18 days. It’s perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Sabaa Tahir, and Rae Carson.
Scroll up and one click now to start reading the Desert Nights series today! FREE in Kindle Unlimited.