Rumaysa Ever After by Radiya Hafiza

Published by Macmillan Children’s Books, 2022.

After her triumph in Rumaysa: A Fairytale (a fresh, feminist re-working of three traditional fairytales), Rumaysa is back. Ever since she escaped her tower, Rumaysa has been searching the land, far and wide, determined to find her long lost parents. But after she receives a mysterious invitation from Saira White, Queen of Bishnara, she is soon pulled into a dark, magical adventure that threatens her own happily ever after …

I loved the first book and was delighted to be reunited with Rumaysa, especially as not everything was resolved in book one. Rumaysa is a heroine for our times: smart, brave, outspoken and independent, yet selfless and driven by compassion. Crucially, she is brown skinned and wears a hijab. Representation like this in children’s books is so vitally important. Every child deserves to see themselves in the stories they read. Historically, however, opportunities to do so have been woeful.

I love how Radiya Hafiza has taken well-known, traditional fairy tales as the basis for her stories yet re-worked them to bring them up to date and make them more relevant to modern readers. Rumaysa is forging her own path. She’s taken matters into her own hands and is not waiting for a prince to save her. In fact, it’s the other way around – Rumaysa saves the prince from the dragon.

There’s a wonderful sense of place in the book; colours, landscapes, clothes and food are so vividly and richly evoked. The story is also full of magic – magical powers, mystical beasts, and talking animals. There’s so much humour too! The tale is told with a real lightness of touch and is thoroughly enjoyable to read.

Rumaysa Ever After is the fairytale we all need.

Rating: 💙💙💙💙

Suitable for children aged 8+

Thank you to Macmillan Children’s Books for sending me this book to review.

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