by Michael O. Tunnell
“The beggars acted as if they knew Aladdin personally, but of course that was impossible. Yet, Aladdin would treat them almost as friends, which angered the Princess” (Tunnell, 10).
So I went to a library back in December, hoping to find some books I was looking for. Instead when I went to the Young Adult section my eyes were immediately captured by Moon Without Magic. I picked it up and realized that it was a sequel (or sorts) to the story of Aladdin. So of course I had to get it.
There was another one next to it and after a quick inspection , I realized that it – Wishing Moon – was actually the first book. I checked out both and here we are.
To begin, I kind of liked how Badr al-Budur was the antagonist. Although I can’t completely fault her motive for wanting the lamp. After all, why shouldn’t she rule? Why should only a man have the right to rule? The danger was her cruel, heartless attitude.
It was surpring how invested I was by the end; Aminah felt as if she had changed but in a slow, subtle way I hardly noticed until I realized how different she was in contrast to how she was at the beginning.
Speaking of her, while I like her desire to improve people’s lives, I thought it was a little selfish that she wanted to keep all the wishes she made. I understand that they were good wishes for the benefit of others, but I found it strange that her objectives were the most commanding. Neither Idris or Barra would disobey Aminah, the good-hearted.
Although admittedly, the ending was brilliant.
“She nodded. ‘In the future. Her name is Ella, and she lives in France. Do you know France, Jinni?’
He raised his eyebrows. “This Ella, would she have a stepmother? And two stepsisters? A beastly threesome, as I remember.”
Aminah turned to him in surprise. ‘You know her?’
Jinni grinned. ‘So you are the one.’
‘Yes, the one,’ he said. “Somebody has to do it, and it seems you have been chosen. I think we are perfect for the job. By the way, you are right about Ella. She will do a great deal of good in the world.’
Aminah sighed. ‘You’re speaking in riddles again. What job?’
‘Fairy godmother,’ said Jinni” (226).
Transitioning into a fairy tale, and a French one at that! It was immensely clever. Heck, I’d read that story.
Speaking of that, Jinni’s knowledge of the future was…interesting. It reminded me a lot of Disney’s Genie but personality wise, Jinni was (at the beginning) more fearsome in a 1001 Nights kind of way – terrifying, large, unpredictable, and menacing. What this characterization reminds me of is that the demon of the lamp is a rather undeveloped character. Disney is one of the few that gives him a distinct persona.
So the fact that this one, while different, still had the same modern quips (pizza, Galileo, New York), makes me think that developing a distinct lamp demon is an important factor I should consider in one of my stories.
I found Hassan to be a little unnecessary. I didn’t dislike him, and I suspected Aminah was going to fall in love with him, but it just felt unneeded. Although, he did provide some of the more suspenseful parts of the story when he was captured.
I actually liked Idris better than Hassan, but I can’t be sore about Aminah not ending up romantically with Idris. Cause I’m all for men and women becoming friendly. (Also, he loved stories, so that was a bonus in his favor.)
There were a couple parts where I had difficulty understanding what was happening or why the characters were acting a certain way (especially Aminah). Her conversations with Jinni could get particularly puzzling, since she or he would get upset or offended and I felt as if I’d missed something. Re-reading those few sections helped, but normally I don’t have trouble following the progression of scenes or dialogue.
I did like how the wishes worked – three wishes every full moon. Nice way to have lots of wishes but still retain the “3 wishes” fantasy. Although I didn’t quite understand the three person sharing the lamp for a month bit. Would they each get three wishes? I wasn’t clear on why that was even brought up.
Additonally, I liked how the lamp had a star on it, to mark it out as different from other lamps. Which reminds me…based on Jinni’s origin as a greedy man, does that mean he was originally human or are all jinn originally human? (That actually makes no sense, so I’m assuming Jinni is unique).
Oh, and on the matter of jinn, why did performing good wishes make Jinni ill? Was it because of his origin as a cruel man? So performing good deeds contradicted his human self?
There was a brief part near the end (and one of the scenes that confused me) where I almost thought Idris was actually going to be Aladdin, but nope. And that was fine. But!
What actually happened to Aladdin? Has he returned from his role as emissary? If yes, did Badr kill him? Or have him thrown in prison? And if he hasn’t come back, what happens when he does? Will he be held accountable for Badr’s absence (like in the original story? Only this time, without the ring or future potential power of the lamp.)
That reminds me. I was so sure that the man Idris saw watching the house was the magician. Or that the scrying ball belonged to him. I kept expecting more danger and allusions to the original story. But nope, the danger was to Hassan and was represented by Badr and Saladin, both of which were resolved relatively quickly.
Thinking on it now, there were a lot of tiny details that were never explained. Like what happened when the guard walked through Aminah as she was searching for Hassan with the crystal? It made the story feel that it hadn’t been tightened up properly.
I liked it well enough. I can’t say I liked the characters as much as in The Land of Green Ginger, but they were likable and it was an engaging and entertaining read, if occasionally confusing.
Finally, I gotta say one of my favorite parts was Aladdin being so nonchalant about losing the lamp and saying Aminah should use it to improve her life. Good for him.
source edited for better definitions
No words (wasn’t looking)
Aladdin: “‘And if the girl does have the lamp, then good for her. She ought to have a chance to let it change her life – just as it changed mine'” (70).
Tunnell, Michael O. Wishing Moon. New York: Dutton Children’s Books, 2004. Print.