ABOUT THE BOOKSharmeen’s life is disrupted when, after an unexpected tragedy, she moves into her Nani’s rambling ancestral bungalow with her family. She hates this new life: her mother, Aliya, and Nani fight constantly; her new schoolmates bully her; and the family retainer, her loving Aziz Bhai, suddenly becomes dominating. The only place where Sharmeen finds solace is the world of Nani’s fantastical stories: tales of Jinn, shapeshifters and other dastardly creatures. But slowly, unseen forces that had lain dormant for centuries start to awaken. Sharmeen meets her own personal Jinn, the prankster Jugnu, who reveals her family history, a pact one of her ancestors made with the Jinn-world, and also some not-so-good news—and Sharmeen realises that it’s up to her to rescue the adults in her life.
- A fascinating fantasy novel by Shazaf Fatima Haider that has everything—a riveting plot, a protagonist you can get behind, a good-bad-ugly mix of side characters, and some skilled storytelling.
- The mischievous Jinn Jugnu reminds one of Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus—but if anything, that only adds to the story.
- A bildungsroman, much like Haider’s first novel How It Happened, this one features the classic battle between the forces of good and evil while skilfully interweaving the real and the magical.
- A sense of place is sorely lacking in the story—where and when does it take place? However, the atmospheric build-up and setting does make up for it to some extent.
- Some of the backstory mythology is confusing, and sometimes convenient; and there are some sexist assumptions in places. But these are minor quibbles in an otherwise engaging read.