Mini-Review: ‘Rumaysa: A Fairytale’ by Radiya Hafiza

[H]er favourite book, ‘One Thousand and One Nights’…had beautiful drawings of palaces and animals, women in hijabs and men in magnificent robes. It was a relief to step into someone else’s life and escape her tower room, if even just for a moment.

Rating:

4.5/5 paper planes

What’s This Book About?

Genre: Children’s fantasy; fairytale retellings
Publication: 1 April 2021
Pages: 240

Synopsis: ‘Rumaysa, Rumaysa, let down your hijab!’

For as long as she can remember Rumaysa has been locked away in her tower, forced to spin straw into gold for the evil Witch, unable to leave. Until one day, after dropping a hijab out of her small tower-window, Rumaysa realizes how she might be able to escape . . . 

Join Rumaysa as she adventures through enchanted forests and into dragon’s lairs, discovers her own incredible magical powers and teams up with Cinderayla and Sleeping Sara!

Content warnings (highlight to see): loss of a loved one; neglectful and abusive guardian; very mild violence and injury

[Note: All quotes are from the ARC version and may be different in finalised editions.]

This was such a sweet, entertaining and original read that was unexpectedly funny too!

‘Do all evil people just like towers and one window?’, [Rumaysa] said out loud, feeling quite frustrated by now. ‘What’s the point of being evil if you’re not going to be creative about it?’

I loved how the central character Rumaysa connects the Rapunzel tale to the other spins on Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty! The inclusion of Muslim protagonists and South Asian culture was seamless and very refreshing. There were some cool plot twists and some actually quite thrilling scenes!. Bonus point if you love reading flying carpet rides. The illustrations were also whimsy and dynamic and one day I’d love to see how it looks in a paper version!

The characters all felt real and distinct from each other, and I liked that side characters (e.g. Ayla’s stepsisters) weren’t written as caricatures but like actual children/teens with realistic reactions.

Losing a loved one is a strange thing. It can come upon you out of nowhere, knocking you sideways and changing the colour of your life for many years to come.

I also enjoyed how feminism threads throughout this story without being heavy-handed. This includes challenges to anti-toxic masculinity and there was a nice little bit of anti-classism too. Definitely an enjoyable and recommended read from me!

Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan’s Children’s Books for an eARC for an honest review.

Thanks for reading! Have you read ‘Rumaysa’ or is it on your TBR? What are some of your favourite fairytale retellings or ones you’re excited to read? Let me know below!

5 thoughts on “Mini-Review: ‘Rumaysa: A Fairytale’ by Radiya Hafiza

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