As an adult, it can sometimes be hard to find a good fantasy book at your local book store. I’m talking about the type of fantasy books that you read as a middle school or high school student that really got your imagination running. I always think back to the first time I read Harry Potter in high school and thinking, “This is so different from what I’m used to reading.” Then, in my first year as a teacher, having students recommend the Percy Jackson series and falling in love with mythology all over again like I was back in elementary school myself. That’s exactly what A Whole New World: A Twisted Tale by Liz Braswell did for me. It made me fall back in love with one of my favorite Disney movies of all time, Aladdin. It made me go back to a land of mystery and adventure that I haven’t visited in a very long time.
If you are unfamiliar with the twisted tale series, it includes classic Disney stories, like Aladdin, and like the title says, it gives it a little twist. In A Whole New World, the twist is right on the cover: “What if Aladdin had never found the lamp?” A big “what if” especially since one of the biggest elements of the classic story revolves around the dynamic relationship between Genie and Aladdin. And that’s how I was sold on the story.
The story starts out in a very familiar way, but again with some new twists and turns. We meet a young Aladdin, a street rat, who lives in the very poor part of Agrabah with his mom. A great addition to Aladdin’s narrative was the addition of some family history to help define his character. Soon, the story shifts to the story we all know. Aladdin and Abu minding their business in the market as they eventually run into Princess Jasmine who has snuck out of the palace. They save her, only for it to lead to Aladdin’s imprisonment for “kidnapping” the princess. We meet the villainous Jafar, disguised as an old and decrepit man who is also stuck in the dungeon. He eventually persuades Aladdin to escape the dungeon and agrees to go into the Cave of Wonders to find a lamp. Him and Abu enter the cave, meet the carpet, find the lamp, and of course Abu touches the big ruby he is not supposed to touch and everything begins to tumble onto them.
Here comes the big twist. Instead of Aladdin keeping the lamp and using his first wish to escape the Cave of Wonders that he is trapped in, Jafar snatches the lamp from Aladdin. With no lamp, Aladdin was stuck in the Cave of Wonders. But of course, this story would not be a story without Aladdin and he eventually finds a way out. However, with Jafar in control of the Genie, things take a dark turn for Agrabah and it is up to Aladdin and his band of Street Rats to save the day.
I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed this story. You would think that it would be geared for young kids since it is a Disney story, but there are some dark moments. Some, that actually caught me off guard. In fact, there were a lot of surprising moments and in a very good way. There’s romance, adventure, and Liz Braswell does a great job of putting the reader in the shoes of some of the characters. Not to mention that I am a big fan of alternate realities and this book fits right inside anyone’s library that enjoys the same type of reading adventures. That’s what makes this an excellent book. It kept me on my toes. It made me see one of my favorite movies and characters in different ways. Most importantly, it got me hooked on a new book series.
That’s the thing about finding a great book. It usually leads to more great books. I highly suggest A Whole New World. Next on the list will be a twisted tale on Beauty and the Beast titled As Old as Time.