Happy release week to Bethany Atazadeh! The Stolen Kingdom came out a couple days ago, and earlier this month I was selected as an early reader for this lovely Aladdin retelling! If you don’t know Bethany, she’s an author that runs a very helpful YouTube channel for other writers. On her YouTube channel, I noticed that she had a new release and was looking for early readers. I signed up, got accepted, and here we are!
Let’s enter The Stolen Kingdom.
This is dubbed as an Aladdin retelling. Okay, Aladdin is one of my favorite Disney movies, so I went into this just a tad worried that I’d be let down. But as I started reading, that worry went away. I had to keep reminding myself about the Aladdin thing, because it’s a great read on its own. It’s similar enough to bring back some nostalgia and little nods to the original here and there (Do ya trust me?), but this is not Aladdin. This is The Stolen Kingdom. Here’s the description:
How can she protect her kingdom, if she can’t protect herself?
Arie eagerly anticipates becoming Queen of her humble kingdom. Even when a Jinni’s Gift manifests before her 18th birthday, she fights to hide the forbidden ability.
But when a neighboring king attempts to marry her and steal her kingdom, discovery feels imminent. Just one slip could cost her throne. And her life.
A Jinni hunter and his crew of thieves are her only hope for removing this Gift. And she must remove it before it’s exposed. Or die trying.
The Stolen Kingdom is a loose “Aladdin” retelling. Set in a world that humans share with Mermaids, Dragons, and the elusive Jinni, this isn’t the fairytale you remember…
The story flows well. It kept me interested and guessing at what was going to happen all the way through it. The mysterious Jinni, and everything about them, were fun to read about as Arie and the others uncovered whatever secrets they could. So we’ve got a little bit of mystery, a dash of romance, and the fate of the kingdom at stake. Sounds like all the things I loved about Aladdin!
Speaking of the dashing lad, here’s Kadin, this story’s “Aladdin” character. He’s right up there as one of my favorites in the book. As the leader of his thieving crew, he’s got to keep those rowdy fellas in check. He does so, but not without a bit of inner doubt that he has to keep hidden. His inner struggles in regards to this pretty new girl, Arie, and the rest of the squad were really refreshing to read. There are a lot of books out there where a leader character just leads and does so without having any feelings about what they’re doing. Bethany keeps it real with her characters, and I thought it was a great addition to the story and the characters. Bosh was a really fun character as well. He doesn’t get much of the spotlight as a minor character, but I enjoyed every scene he was in.
The story’s not much of a story unless there is a villain, and Amir is a very good (bad) one. He’s in the background for a bulk of the novel as more of a looming threat, which really worked out. I won’t say too much about him, but he sure likes to stack the deck in his favor any way he can.
The Gifts were an interesting read as well. They kind of reminded me of the super-powereds in Brandon Sanderson’s Reckoners series. What power could this person have? And what weakness could then be exploited from it? Bethany came up with an interesting idea here, and she shelled it out really well.
Arie, the main character, has to make some tough decisions during this story. As princess, she has a kingdom to worry about, but then there is also her father, her friends, and herself weighing her down. I enjoyed reading her navigate all the troubles that came her way and how she handled them. Her growth is believable and relatable, which is no easy feat considering she’s a super-powered princess! I don’t want to spoil anything, but I thought she made some very reasonable decisions. It’s easy to want that happy ending everyone craves. Sometimes things happen that prevent that, but I believe this story still has a bit left to tell.
I’m happy to say that I really enjoyed The Stolen Kingdom. It’s different enough from Aladdin that it stands on its own as a great book. Fans of all sorts of genres will enjoy reading it. It’s not super long either, so its a nice, easy late summer read. Take it to the pool, beach, lake, whatever and you’re good! But hey, if you want to curl up by a fire or something you can do that too. It’s a pretty versatile book! I look forward to the next in the series, but what I’m really looking forward to is when the series concludes. I’m holding out some hope for what might happen, so I’ll be sticking around to find out!