Review: Rumaysa by Radiya Hafiza

Blurb: Step into a once upon a time where anything is possible. 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 be able to escape…

Title: Rumaysa

Author: Radiya Hafiza

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s, an imprint of PanMacmillan

Genre: Fiction, Children’s, Middle Grade, Fantasy, Fairytale


Dive into a world of fairytales with a difference. The classic tales of Rapunzel, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty have been reimagined to centre around WOC who have the skills to save themselves, no handsome princes required!

Whenever I see a book that’s inspired by fairytales, I’m immediately intrigued. Couple that with this gorgeous cover and I simply couldn’t not pick this up. I particularly loved that we got three stories in one! It’s always a bonus when you get more than you thought with a book and even more so, each of the stories are linked which I thought was a wonderful touch. The main thing that I love about this book was the switch up with representation. When we think of these three princesses, they’re usually white Europeans – in this take, all three are POC. To add to that, our main character Rumaysa wears a hijab (which becomes a key part of her story) and Sleeping Sara is plus size. I adore seeing this kind of character representation in middle grade books as I wholeheartedly support all children being able to see themselves in the stories they read. Hafiza said in a recent Q&A that the inspiration behind this book was simply wanting to see herself in stories she loved which I think speaks volumes as to the importance of POC stories being published. Speaking of characters, we get to read the stories of three young women who have the strength and smarts to save themselves, even rejecting a prince who is not as charming as he seems. We also get to see a fantastic young male character, Suleiman, who rejects the idea that boys have to be brave and heroic all the time and shows readers that it’s ok to be nervous and just want to play video games sometimes! This book is packed full of magic and was an absolute joy to experience.

As for what I disliked, there was a part of me that would have loved for Rumaysa to find her parents at the end of the book. It might be a little cliche but I wanted so badly for her to have the thing she wanted most and we didn’t really get that closure. I would also note that the writing style is pretty simple. Now, this book is aimed at a middle grade audience so I completely understand the reason for this, there are other fairytale inspired stories that fit into this age category that felt a little more complex. However, if you’re after something for the younger end of middle grade, I would wholeheartedly recommend this one!

Overall, I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys fairytale retellings or is looking to see themselves in classic stories that have never represented them before.

Rating: 4/5

Recommend?: Yes!

Have you read this book? Or maybe you’ve read something similar? What did you think? I’d love to know!

You can always find me over on Twitter if you’d like to discuss this book (or any others that I’ve featured) in more detail 😌

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