If you have watched Disney's Aladdin, you know the story goes Jafar in disguise tricks Aladdin into entering the Cave of Wonders to steal the lamp and Jafar's plan is to kill Aladdin and take over Agrabah. You know at first that he does not get the lamp and instead traps Aladdin in the cave and Aladdin grabs the lamp, makes a few wishes, wins the heart of the princess, and then Jafar briefly has the lamp and makes a wish that dooms him to eternity in the lamp. Well, what if that did not happen. Liz Braswell, in what may be a twist series by Disney Press, creates a twist on the original Disney story. In her adaptation, the story starts the same with Aladdin imprisoned for "kidnapping" the princess, but this time Jafar is able to get the lamp and trap Aladdin in the cave for a few days. In the meantime, Jafar becomes Sultan and a great sorcerer, but still wants to marry Jasmine. He dooms this relationship by doing an unforgivable act and the princess plans her escape. Jafar tries to charm the populace by giving out gold and for a time free food. Jasmine and Aladdin know the true Jafar and the two are able to unite with the leaders of the Street Rats to try to stop Jafar's dastardly plans. Not only does he want to take over Agrabah, but also the world, with an army of undead soldiers and the power of the genie. Can Jasmine and Aladdin create a whole new world or will Jafar's evil schemes destroy Agrabah?
This was a fast-paced and dark retelling of Aladdin and both teens and adults will be drawn into Braswell's magic. It is a bittersweet story and without giving too much away, some beloved characters do not have happy endings. Braswell does capture all sides of Agrabah, the poor and the rich and magic and thievery. I loved trying to remember the original story alongside of her retelling although it did make me a bit sad that the lightheartedness of the original is definitely not there. She does capture the pure evil that is Jafar and in this tale, he is someone to be feared, and she shows how absolute power brings out the worst in people, especially people with a bent for dark magic. If you want to experience a whole new side of the Aladdin story, read Braswell's dark tale of tragedy and triumph and of love that is true despite the circumstances. For me this is a 4 cup of cocoa read and reminds me of the dark original fairytales, like 1001 Arabian Nights, which I actually enjoyed. I still like the original Disney tale too, but this is a good contrast to that story.