Saturday, July 03, 2021

A Muslim Fairytale Retelling: Rumaysa by Radiya Hafiza [Book Review]

Title: Rumaysa: A Fairytale
Series: -
Author: Radiya Hafiza
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Retellings, Adventure
Format: Paperback
Publication Date: April 1st 2021
Pages: 240

Synopsis (Goodreads): This funny and empowering story weaves together three classic fairytales into one new adventure with an unusual structural twist: Rumaysa is a Muslim girl who lets her hijab down from a tall tower in order to escape. Set in a magical version of South Asia, Rumaysa explores enchanted forests and dragon lairs, teaming up with Cinderayla and Sleeping Sara along the way to create a strong sense of sisterhood.


My rating: 5 / 5 ★

Have you ever read a book and immediately have the thought, "This is the book that I should have grown up with"? Well, Rumaysa is that kind of book for me. I have read many fairytale retellings, but I have never came across a retelling where the main character is a Muslim, or even a POC. Perhaps I just haven't read that much, but I'll admit that Rumaysa is still one of a kind.

Rumaysa: A Fairytale is a combination of three fairytale retellings: Rapunzel, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. The difference is that Rapunzel is known as Rumaysa, Cinderella as Cinderayla, and Sleeping Beauty as Sleeping Sara. The main character is of course, Rumaysa, and after escaping the witch's tower, she goes on an adventure to look for her parents and came across Cinderayla and Sara.

What I love the most about this book is that even though it stayed true to most parts of the original fairytale, the changes made to it made the stories lovelier and more fun. I also love that each girl has their own strength and qualities, and none of them were depicted as meek or in need of some saving from a boy.

Rumaysa is both brilliant and quick-witted, having figured out how to escape on her own without waiting for a random prince coming to save her. She also has sass and a no-nonsense attitude, which was really refreshing to read. But the most important part is that she has great kindness and compassion in her, despite enduring a lot of harshness from when she was younger. While Cinderayla's character was written quite realistically, I find Sleeping Sara to be relatable. I most definitely will have a difficult time waking up if I have slept for too long.

Apart from the independent female characters that I love, the elements of Islam and South Asian cultures sprinkled generously throughout the book were also part of the charm. From what I understood, there were some Bengali foods and culture mentioned. The holy month of Ramadan was mentioned and the ball in the original Cinderella tale was changed into an Eid Ball, and I absolutely relish them.

Rumaysa: A Fairytale easily became one of my favourite releases in 2021, and the best retelling that I have ever read. The Muslim and Asian elements made me feel proud—this is the very kind of book that my people should read while growing up as it shows that we should be proud of our culture and belief. Your skin colour is beautiful no matter how light or dark-skinned you are. And the girls also show that you should just be yourself and you do not need to depend on boys to save you.

I believe anyone who enjoys reading fantasy and retellings will enjoy reading Rumaysa: A Fairytale, no matter how old you are. Many thanks to Pansing for sending me the review copy in exchange for my honest opinion. This book is now available in all good bookstores!

Find me and my review featured on Twinkl's World Kid Lit Campaign!


When she arrived at the foot of the tower, Rumaysa looked for a door of some sort, but there was nothing except a lone window right at the top. 'Do all evil people just like towers and one window?' she 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?'

Till next time ♡ Love, Aishah Humaira'

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