Hey everyone, welcome or welcome back to Maya’s Life and Travels. Today I will be reviewing Rumaysa: a fairytale! I just finished it recently and its an amazing book! I saw this book in a store and I had to buy it! I couldn’t even put down this book, that’s how good it was. Before we get started, I just wanted to say there are some spoiler ahead so spoiler alert!!. Alright, let’s get started!
Rhaida El Touny
Rumaysa had lots of amazing official reviews on the first page of the book. Here are some reviews:
‘I loved the heroines of this wonderful tale, loved how their stories intersected each other and that they were their own rescuers and pathfinders. Three classic fairytales, beautifully woven together, sparkling with magic and humour.’ Nirzana Farooq, author of The Girl who stole the Elephant
‘An enchanting and cleverly woven trio of tales, filled with humour charm and magic‘ Aisha Bushby, author of A Pocketful of Stars and Moonchild Voyage of Lost and Found.
THE STORY AND MY OPINION ON THE BOOK:
Rumaysa: A fairytale is a trio of famous fairy tales Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel rewritten all composed into one book. The characters and the story are rewritten in a more Muslim perspective and that is something I really love about the book because there are not a lot of books where girls have brown skin and wear a hijab. Lots of fairytales are centered around white princesses that need rescuing by their ‘Prince Charming’ and this book is completely different and instead the book is centered around independent brown Muslim girls not being rescued but saving the day and being their own rescuers. The book also challenges lots of harmful stereotypes towards masculinity in fairytales.
This book really caught my eye because the cover says “Rumaysa, Rumaysa let down your hijab”. This really spoke to me because the author Radiya Hafiza changed the line ‘Rapunzel, Rapunzel let down your hair’ and to me it was a really powerful line because it changed the perspective of the story a lot. I couldn’t put this book down! I also really loved this book because the author (Radiya Hafiza) changed the names of the fairytale characters that lots of people love today to Rumaysa, Sleeping Sara and Cindereyla instead of Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella.
The book is about a couple called Naina and her husband Samar and they are a bit less fortunate than others because Samar couldn’t find any work but Naina spent her days sewing clothes for wealthier ladies. Naina was pregnant and there wasn’t any food for her unborn daughter, Rumaysa so Samar went out searching for food. He then to the garden of the witch of Splintefell and took her vegetables but she didn’t turn up even on his way home so he believed that she existed so he returned to the garden for two months every day. Sadly, right after Rumaysa was born the witch Cordelia came and stole Rumaysa because Samar stole from her garden. Since Rumaysa could turn things into gold because she eat from the witches garden Cordelia forced her to spin straw and turn it into gold. Cordelia also gave Rumaysa books to read but one day Rumaysa fell asleep and didn’t spin any straw so the next day Cordelia ripped them up and took them away. Cordelia kept forcing Rumaysa to spin golden straw until one day she revealed that she would take Rumaysa into a golden palace made out of all the golden straw Rumaysa had spun. But, Rumaysa wanted to escape. So she made a super long hijab made out of the golden straw and it reached the ground. Rumaysa then meets Suleiman that is looking for a Princess that got captured by a dragon and they escape together with her talking owl friend.
After that, Rumaysa enters Qamaroon, searching for her parents. In the book we then meet Cinderayla and Rumaysa fixes Alya’s dress that her stepmother Amelia ripped up with her golden straw (Rumaysa is like Alya’s fairy godmother) and they both head to the Eid ball. But, Alya’s stepmother did not let her go but she goes with Rumaysa in the end. Then at the ball, Prince Harun approaches her because of her beautiful golden dress but she doesn’t know he is the prince. Her stepmother then approaches her. Alya and Rumaysa leave the ball and they head to Alya’s house but Alya drops her golden slipper. The next day the Royal Guard comes to Alya’s house and tells her to try it on and then Prince Harun asked her to marry him but she turned her back on him and she walked off happily.
Then Rumaysa heads to the land of Farisia in search for her parents. She then meets Sleeping Sara who was placed in a tower by a magical dragon and put to sleep for 5 months. but, Rumaysa wakes her up. Suleiman then appears right after Rumaysa found Sara by mistake. In the end Sleeping Sara is returned to her parents but the palace is burnt down by the dragon.
I really like that the book challenges lots of harmful stereotypes and also challenges the ideology that thin girls can only be the heroes in stories. Sleeping Sara is a plus sized girl but she is still a hero of her own story. I really hate that ideology because even if people are plus sized they can still save the day because it doesn’t matter how thin or fat you are as you are the hero of your own story. This book also talks about themes relevant to today’s society and fairytales. In fairytales men and boys are there to save the day but Suleiman doesn’t want to save the day because he wants invent in his house but he is there as a friend instead of saving the day. In addition, the book also talks about complex families in the tale of Cinderyala and I believe it is really relevant to today’s society.
My favourite character would be Rumaysa because I love that even though she still hasn’t found her parents she is still persevering and not backing down. I also love that she is making the best out of her situation and helping people along her journey to find her parents. I believe characters like Cinderayla, Rumaysa and Sleeping Sara should be seen more in fairytales and books today because they are independent young girls that are saving themselves instead of waiting for a boy or a man to save them. It is those characters that we need today in our society.
I can really relate to all the characters in this book because I have so much similarities with them and I look like them. Even the small things relate to me a lot like how Rumaysa reads books similar to the ones I read like 1001 Arabian Nights. Small things can really make a huge impact.
This book was a really amazing read and I recommend it to people who really want to read a retelling of classic fairytales or people who like books in the fantasy genre. If you happen to buy this book, there is a Q and A with the author at the end for you to read. I really did love reading it and I hope you do too!
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 window, Rumaysa realises how she might escape….
Thank you so much everyone for reading this book review. If you enjoyed it please tell me what you would like me to review next in the comments! I would love to read all of your suggestions!