Rumaysa, A Fairytale by Radiya Hafiza

Written by Radiya Hafiza, Illustrated by Rhaida El Touny, Publishing April 2021

For someone who is an adoring fan of all things fairy tales, this book is an eye opener and a game changer. I was stunned by the beauty of the stories, interwoven with the bravery of the girls and the interconnectedness of all three tales.

This is girl power at it’s best- helpfulness, kindness and resourcefulness. All the things we should want for our daughters, not to be helpless, uncertain or fearful. The girls in the stories are enchanting, courageous and inspiring to any young girls who will choose to read this book.

I love debut novels as I feel the new voice, perspectives and ideas they bring to the world are worthy and challenge the stereotypes. Radiya Hafiza has certainly challenged the stereotypes of princesses waiting to be rescued within Rumaysa, Cinderayla and Sleeping Sara. Girls will be unable to read these without feeling magic fall from their fingers, imaginations run wild and inspiration course through them! I certainly felt more powerful and proud to be a woman!

Rumaysa is stolen from her parents as a baby and kept prisoner in a tower with no way of escaping. Her only visitors are the witch and an owl who brings news and food. Imprisoned with the job to spin straw into gold, Rumaysa grows weary and wants to escape! When an opportunity arises, she takes it, not knowing what will lie ahead. The prospect of being imprisoned for life is too much to bear. A chance meeting with Suleiman helps her cause and he passes to her a necklace which will help her on her journey.

The necklace led Suleiman to Rumaysa, though he was searching for a princess snatched by a dragon. Believing the necklace will lead her home, Rumaysa follows it. Her parents are not found but Ayla instead. Ayla’s dress has been torn on the night of the ball and she is distressed. Rumaysa quickly lends a hand, forging a strong friendship with the girl. To the ball they shall go together! Where Cinderella in the classic tale falls in love with the Prince, Ayla too meets the prince but she makes a bold decision in the light of day!

Rumaysa meets Suleiman again at the ball as he continues to search for the missing princess. Asking the necklace to take her home once more, Rumaysa follows its clues leading her to another tower, prompting a brilliant line, “Do all evil people just like towers and one window?…What’s the point of being evil if you’re not going to be creative about it?”

Here begins the third story of Sleeping Sara. Rumaysa, her courage and skills are needed yet again as she finds a sleeping princess and a dragon intent on evil. Using her skills, resourcefulness and courage, she yet again leaves a lasting impression. Will she ever find her way home though?

This will certainly leave a lasting impression on readers.

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