I received this book via YA Book Central. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.The Genie Dagger by Bethany Wicker
Published by Self Publish on 2019-03-12
Length: 207 pages
Reviewing eARC from YA Book Central
Reading Challenges: 2019 New Release Challenge
A magical dagger. An evil genie. A hidden past.
In a land where genies and magic have been destroyed, Ara—a street rat—never anticipated stealing a magical dagger and it changing her life. When she wields it, she unlocks a whole new world of magic. Taron is used to starving. He feels the pains of hunger and the desperation of thirst every day. When a girl offers to help him, he thinks it’s too good to be true, but he quickly learns Ara is the best thief in Agora.
Two street rats who are looking for a way out, Ara and Taron need each other more than they can imagine, but the dark secrets of Ara’s past won’t remain hidden forever.
This review first appeared on Young Adult Book Central.
The Genie Dagger by Bethany Wicker is the first book in a new fantasy series set in the world of Aladdin. Now don’t mistake me. The Genie Dagger is a continuation, not a retelling, of the story set years after the events we all know and love. Magic is outlawed and genies are dead when one street rat discovers a dagger that unlocks a hidden power inside of her.
Ara is a thief and street rat, stealing gives her a rush of adrenaline. I liked and disliked Ara. She is cunning, sly, and loyal, but she has a darker side to her. She trusts no one, and this gets her in loads of trouble. Not only is she untrusting, she is closed off to anyone that reaches out to her. Ara’s redeeming quality is how she cares for those that remind her of where she came from and what might have become of her if not for the King of Thieves.
Then enters Taron, another street rat about Ara’s age. He is starving and has basically given up when Ara finds him on the streets. Ara shares her food with him and so begins their tenuous friendship. I like Taron. He is the opposite of Ara. He is kind and genuinely a good person. Stealing food so he won’t starve never crosses his mind. In the short time he’s known Ara, he comes to care for her as a friend and confidante.
The plot of the story revolves around Ara and Taron building a friendship and learning the secrets of the dagger Ara steals. This is where I struggled to focus. I like the characters, and I love the alternating points of view (each chapter alternates between Taron and Ara). However the pacing of the story doesn’t match with the events the characters face. The pacing is very slow until the end. At the end, the characters are rushed through the climax of the story. There are a few plot holes here too. At times, I looked back to make sure I hadn’t missed pages.
Overall I enjoyed The Genie Dagger. The world-building around the original story of Aladdin blends beautifully with the setting Wicker’s created. Ara’s heritage and the magic of the dagger become the focus of the story and leave more questions than answers. Adventure awaits for our young hero and heroine, and I’m looking forward to more of their story.