THE STOLEN KINGDOM - by Bethany Atazadeh

Published: August 20th 2019 - Grace House Press.
Genres: Young adult / romance / adventure / retelling / fantasy.    
Pages: 310.
Triggers/Content Advisory: N.A.
Format: eARC.
Source: Thank you so much to the author for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review. I voluntarily read & reviewed this copy. All thoughts are my own.

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 neighbouring 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.

I was extremely excited to read this book. The cover is one of the most beautiful covers I've ever come across, and an Aladdin retelling sounded sensational, too.

The writing is mediocre. The metaphors are generic and cliche, the prose is passive, and the sentence structure is poor, which takes away from the action and more intense emotional scenes. In addition, the contemporary jargon is jarring when you consider that this is supposed to be a fantasy in a world reminiscent of medieval times. It's poorly thought-out.

The world-building is practically non-existent.  It's a vague, castle-kings-princesses world, and the present issues (such as the Gifts and why women aren't trusted to possess that power) don't have a fully fleshed-out backstory as to how they came about. It's just thrown in there, and isn't backed up with reason, motivation, or experience. Apparently, "just because" is good enough.

The plot is severely lacking. Coincidence plays a big role in getting the characters from point A to B, and incidents are random, predictable, and superficial. Everything is easy, and I got the sense that certain events or themes (such as Arie's arranged marriage and the fact that women are persecuted for having Gifts) were just included because they were fun to write, not because they actually worked well in the plot. Ultimately, I struggled to suspend disbelief.   

The characters are boring and unoriginal. Arie is feisty and sweet, but that's about it. Her personality never comes to life. Kadin and his gang are the same: they've been tossed some personality traits such as "charming" and "kind", but their characters still aren't properly fleshed out or fully realised.  As for the villain, he's one-dimensional. He wants to steal the kingdom and marry Arie to do it, and he's evil because, well, he's evil. 

The Stolen Kingdom has so much potential, but the weak plot, cliche characters, vague world-building and poor writing disappoint on every level. 

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