Out Now from Disney Hyperion; 288 pages
Content Warning: Death of a parent, death, attempted murder, murder, horror imagery, misogyny, torture, dismemberment, execution
About the Author: “Alexandra Monir is the Iranian-American author of the internationally best-selling novel The Final Six, which has been translated into numerous languages around the world; the DC Comics superhero novel Black Canary: Breaking Silence, from the New York Times-bestselling DC Icons series; and several other books for young adults. Alexandra spent her teen years as a pop singer before publishing her debut novel, Timeless, and continues to write music. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and young son and daughter” (Bio from the author).
Find Alexandra Monir on the following platforms:
Welcome to the magical land of Agrabah, where carpets fly, Jafar lies defeated, and the land’s princess is about to marry her true love… but also has to fight off inhuman assassins at night. Following the death of her father, Jasmine starts noticing strange shapes and shadows lurking around her palace, and sometimes, when she looks in the mirror, a woman with no eyes stares back. Not only that, but her imminent role as Agrabah’s first female sultana and her choice of a commoner, Aladdin, as consort cause her father’s old counselors to doubt her ability to rule. Then a pesky second cousin, Karim, materializes out of thin air and claims that he is the rightful heir to the throne. With nothing but a cryptic message from her father about looming threats and help from the enigmatic Queen’s Council, Jasmine must find her true allies amidst a dwindling group of supporters, figure out who on earth is trying to kill her, claim her crown, and finally secure her happily ever after.
For those familiar with Aladdin (1992), Realm of Wonders picks up where the movie ends: Jafar defeated, with Princess Jasmine poised to take the throne. Her coronation quickly goes awry, however, and this much-beloved Disney Princess must face yet another situation that tests her mettle: a fight for her crown. To me, the most interesting part of the book was seeing how Monir takes a classic Disney character and infuses her with a new vibrancy, especially playing up the feminist element of her character. Monir’s Jasmine is fierce, brave, and willing to stand up for what’s right—the traits of a textbook Disney princess—but is also ambitious and more pragmatic, having been forced to grow up more quickly because of her father’s death and the subsequent fight for the throne. Those looking for romance might leave disappointed as Aladdin, while an important part of the story, is not the focus as much as Jasmine’s path to self-discovery and queendom. However, Jasmine taking on the trials set before her and her cousin-slash-contender-to-the-throne Karim was my favorite part, and I wish it started earlier! The thrilling excitement of the challenges really grabbed my attention and fleshed out Jasmine’s character. I would’ve liked it if the action began sooner, and made more the focus of the story, rather than starting halfway through. Nevertheless, Princess Jasmine dazzles in this whole new tale about magical mysteries, fighting for what’s right, and staying true to yourself.
Pine Reads Review would like to thank NetGalley, Sparkpoint Studios, and Disney Hyperion for sending us an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes are taken from an advanced copy and may be subject to change before final publication.
Aruna Sreenivasan, Pine Reads Review Assistant Director