The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 13 Nov 2018

Member Reviews

The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories is a solid anthology. There are quite a few stories that I really loved, while others were hit and miss. The stories were organized in good fashion, making for a good reading experience. All in all, The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories is good.
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It's important to understand where I come from with djinn (or jinn or genies, depending on your preferred translation). My background is limited to some basic classic stories, Jewish folklore, and Disney's Aladdin trilogy. The idea of djinn is an Islamic concept. But, little did I realize that the mythos of djinn are as broad and diverse as those who practice Islam. I gained an unparalleled view of what djinn are to these authors, what they were, and what they can be. Each story provided a unique view of djinn which, despite my limited education, provided me an understanding of the origin and connection (well, except for one story) to the djinn mythos.

There were a handful of standout stories for me:
	• The Congregation by Kamila Shamsie
	• Hurrem and the Djinn by Claire North
	• Bring Your Own Spoon by Saad Z Hossain
	• Somewhere in America by Neil Gaiman

Regardless of which story you're reading, you'll find that djinn featured vary widely. Authors explore the idea of the djinn as an immigrant, trying to fit in a space they were never expected to be. They give the djinn the power of being the ultimate outside observer to what is happening with mankind. The authors use the djinn to represent things: sentient magic, the supernatural, religious zeal, or even as a general metaphor for untapped and dangerous potential. We readers are even lucky to get to see traditional interpretations of djinn grace these pages. A wide-wide world of incredible perspective and diversity. 

Why only 3 stars? The best stories were unfortunately flattened by the less common, but sadly more memorable, flat and lacking stories. I actually put this book down for 9+ months after reading one such story that didn't connect with me at all. Out of 21 stories, I rated only two 2-stars and three 1-star. But those five stories were enough for me to dock a whole star from the entire collection. I imagine with a re-read I might appreciate them more, now that I have a less Americanized understanding of djinn, but I am still left heartbroken that a few bad apples can ruin the whole bushel as it were.

Despite some stories leaving me cold, The Djinn Falls in Love is an admirable anthology with contributions from incredible authors. If you are someone who advocates for diversity in literature, has an interest in djinn or eastern mythology, I strongly recommend this collection. After all, if you don't like a story don't worry -- a new one will pop in soon and take you on a magic carpet ride.
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I've extolled the virtues of short stories many times and anthologies tend to center around a theme.  This theme, of course, is Djinn, or Genies as we Americans often call them.

This supernatural creature, the Djinn, is quite foreign to me and I looked forward to getting a better understanding of what s/he is about, but I came away from the collection less than enthused. The stories were generally fine, but the tone and pacing was very much the same in all the stories and so I grew bored.  Perhaps if I read these over longer period of time I wouldn't have noticed the similarities so much.

One of my favorites in the collection was "Black Powder" by Maria Dahvana Headley. It is perhaps one of the more complex stories as it reaches through time and weaves storylines. It was quite engrossing.

"A Tale of Ash in Seven Birds" by Amal El-Mohtar about magicians hunting reincarnations of birds ... a sparrow is reincarnated into crow, reincarnated into cormorant, reincarnated into hummingbird, etc ... was really interesting and quite poetically beautiful, but there was no story.

"The Spite House" by Kirsty Logan stood out as being a little better than average. A half human/half djinn woman is a junk collector who is confronting by another woman who makes a wish, causing a surge of power course through the djinn.

Sophia Al-Maria's "The Righteous Guide of Arabast" was a strange piece in which a man believes his wife must be possessed because she knows so much more about sex than he does. It was a story about sex and sex toys more than about djinn.

While I'm glad I read this, it is not a book I would recommend.

This book contains the following:

Introduction - Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin
"The Djinn Falls in Love" - Hermes
"The Congregation" - Kamila Shamsie
"How We Remember You" – Kuzhali Manickavel
"Hurrem and the Djinn" – Claire North
"Glass Lights" – J.Y. Yang
"Authenticity" – Monica Byrne
"Majnun" – Helene Wecker
"Black Powder" – Maria Dahvana Headley
"A Tale of Ash in Seven Birds" – Amal El-Mohtar
"The Sand in the Glass is Right" – James Smythe
"Reap" – Sami Shah
"Queen of Sheba" – Catherine Faris King
"The Jinn Hunter’s Apprentice" – E.J. Swift
"Message in a Bottle" – K.J. Parker
"Bring Your Own Spoon" – Saad Z. Hossain
"Somewhere in America" – Neil Gaiman
"Duende 2077" – Jamal Mahjoub
"The Righteous Guide of Arabsat" – Sophia Al-Maria
"The Spite House" – Kirsty Logan
"Emperors of Jinn" – Usman T. Malik
"History" – Nnedi Okorafor

Looking for a good book? The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories edited by Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin is a collection of Djinn-related short fiction that generally doesn't appeal though a couple of stories do rise above the rest.

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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In the introduction to The Djinn Falls in Love & Other Stories, editors Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin state that their three aims were to “showcase global storytelling,” “showcase the djinn themselves,” and “find a title worthy of the work” (5). All three goals are beautifully accomplished in this collection of mostly prose with some poetry, the irresistible title coming from Robin Moger’s translation of the Egyptian poet Hermes’ poem, which is also printed in the original Arabic.

Amal El-Mohtar’s “A Tale of Ash in Seven Birds” is a somber yet gorgeous prose poem or lyric story, addressing concerns both ancient and contemporary:

The shores, ports, parts, they challenge us to battle. We are weary; we surrender. Nations are great magicians; they pull borders out of hats like knots of silk. Here, says the wizard nation, here are the terms of a truce: be small, be drab, above all be grateful, and we will let you in. We bow our heads, and change. (99)

Stand out fiction for me included the two stories that open the collection, “The Congregation,” by Kamila Shamsie, and “How We Remember You,” by Kuzhali Manickavel. Shamsie’s tale works well to open the collection as it provides a concise origin story that may be useful to western readers: “[J]inn were very much like men in nature, except perhaps a little more fiery in temperament: they were made from smokeless fire while men were made from clay” (14). “The Congregation” is rich with love and longing, the prose deceptively simple:

Qasim’s eyes followed the fortune-teller’s pointing finger. A group of stars which he’d never before noticed detached themselves from the sky and lowered themselves until they were floating just above the banyan tree. He blinked once, and the stars become two boys, their arms around each other’s shoulders, so close he could see the fire of the nearer twin’s eyes. Blinked again, and they were just pinpricks in the darkness, rising back up into the sky. (21)

While Shamsie’s contribution is a beautiful story of familial love, Manickavel’s selection is grimmer. If not for its appearance in a collection called The Djinn Falls in Love, the titular “you” might not be recognizable as an Arabian (or Islamic) genie figure. “How We Remember You” reverses the predicted relationship wherein djinn challenge, tempt, and cajole their human masters or counterparts. An aching study of regret, Manickavel’s story examines how difference can challenge intimacy, especially during adolescence, a time of swift irritation and callous affection, love and hate experienced with agonizing simultaneity:

I remember you honestly to strangers. I tell women in share autos that I never liked you very much, but you were comfortable to sit with and you sang well. I don’t remember what you looked like. . . . I remember that your feet were always dusty and you often breathed through your mouth. Your English-speaking skills were poor; you could not add double-digit numbers in your head. . . . I am pretty sure that if you were still here, you would not have been good at computers. I also remember how your eyes would close as the feathers began to sprout from your shoulders and the way you threw your chest out when your feet were no longer on the ground, when you were just running, the sky opening up slowly underneath you. But I don’t mention that to anyone. (27)

Few of the stories in The Djinn Falls in Love are narrated as folktales, though Claire North’s “Hurrem and the Djinn” follows the long tradition of female storytellers weaving magical narratives disguised as gossip or court intrigue—stories about women who must save themselves from the machinations of powerful men. North’s story satisfies the taste for self-savior tales.

Genre here otherwise varies widely, giving the collection a sense of surprise, from Maria Dahvana Headley’s outstanding western-sci-fi cross “Black Powder,” to Nnedi Okorafor’s contemporary fable “History.” Both of these stories are fun to read and full of read-aloud-worthy prose.

Neil Gaiman’s “Somewhere in America,” reprinted from American Gods, is among the stories in this collection that studies transformations made possible through contact with the djinn, as does Helene Wecker’s “Majnun.” Such transformations never resort to predictable tricks that teach life lessons about the importance of being yourself or placing too much value on fripperies. As Gaiman’s ifrit complains, “They think we grant wishes. If I could grant wishes, do you think I would be driving a cab?” (204). Instead, characters who encounter the djinn, or re-encounter them after long absence, are full of convictions both powerful and wavering; such encounters are charmed but difficult wrestlings, moments of giving in to or resisting temptation that leave the human characters, and often the djinn, deeply changed.

These are profound and often deceptively simple stories, stories that offer insights and gems of phrasing that may follow you around, whispering in memory’s ear when you least expect it, “like a fire with many tongues” (Shamsie 22).
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Loved the eclectic blend of the different types and views of djinn/jinn/genies. I loved the variety of genres/settings too. As with any short story collection, some of the stories were jewels and sent me immediately looking for more works by the author, and other were just sort of meh. Definitely something for everyone to love in this one!
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Unfortunately, I DNFed this book in the first 15%. It just didn't grab my attention.
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Thanks to Netgalley and Rebellion Publishing for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

"When Allah created man out of clay, Allah also created the djinn out of fire."--Mahvesh Murad, from the Introduction.

This is a really wonderful collection. I had no idea there were so many variations of djinn--good or evil, mischievous or kind, religious or deviant, and everywhere in between. The sheer variation of interpretation is what makes this a superior collection, as well, of course, as the superior writing. There's not a single poorly written piece in this collection. They're all nuanced, well-thought, character driven stories. It's also a great mix of authors I know and ones I'm unfamiliar with, and I will be checking out some of the authors that were new to me to see what else they've written.

My two absolute favorites were the opening poem by Hermes, and "Reap" by Sami Shah--about a group of soldiers spying on the homes of possible terrorists with the use of a drone, and seeing some unexpected. It was my first time reading Shah, so I will be seeing what else his written! Wait...I just looked him up, and he's a comedian??? There is nothing funny about that story! Maybe a different Shah??? 

A close runner up is the first short story--"The Congregation" by Kamila Shamsie, another author I'm unfamiliar with. This one is steeped in Islamic culture. 

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who loves short stories, particularly if you're looking to read a diverse collection, and like a bit of magic in your fiction. 

Here are my reviews of each story: 

Hermes (trans. Robin Moger) — The Djinn Falls in Love: Ooo, lovely poem. 5/5

Kamila Shamsie — The Congregation: A young man visits his family's mosque late one night, to find jinn worshiping there instead. One jinn in particular enraptures him. Loved the immersion of this one. 4/5

Kuzhali Manickavel — How We Remember You: A man remembers how as a teen he and a group of friends did something they'll regret the rest of their lives, to another friend who had begun growing wings on his back. 4/5

Claire North — Hurrem and the Djinn: Davuud is asked to discover what foul djinn Hurrem--the sultan's favorite wife--consorts with. Things get out of hand. Men can be stupid. :) This novelette is predictable, but well written. I love all these different takes on djinn. They're so different from tale to tale--in appearance, temperament, powers, etc. 3.5/5

J.Y. Yang — Glass Lights: A woman whose grandmother was a djinn struggles in the contemporary world with loneliness. Good writing and character, but lacking in plot. 3/5

Monica Byrne — Authenticity: A young woman searches for authentic experiences, and sex is one way to find those experiences. She gets with a young man who is filming a porn movie later. But are either of them what they seem? 3/5 

Helene Wecker — Majnun: A jinn, once the lover of a beautiful jinn ruler, has a religious crises and becomes an exorist. Very interesting story. 4/5

Maria Dahvana Headley — Black Powder: A hunter, a kid, a pawnshop owner, and a priest become entwined in a story about a jinn that lives in a rifle. Not sure I exactly understood the end, it felt like a retelling of a story I'm completely unfamiliar with, but the writing and relationships are well done. 4/5 

Amal El-Mohtar — A Tale of Ash in Seven Birds: Magicians hunt reincarnations of birds. Not a big fan of this, though I usually like El-Mohtar's fiction. 2/5

James Smythe — The Sand in the Glass is Right: A man tries again and again to get his wish right, but what does he lose in the process? I liked the theme of consequences. This is one that would probably be best on a second read. 4/5

Sami Shah — REAP: A military unit watches a group of houses in Afghanistan with the use of a drone, and see some pretty disturbing stuff. This story is excellent. It will stay with me for a while. 5/5

Catherine King — Queen of Sheba: A twelve-year-old girl celebrates her first Christmas with the adults, but as she's ironing a tablecloth, she sees visions. Good story, though without a plot. I'm still buzzing from the last story, so that may have affected my read of this one. 3.5/5

E.J. Swift — The Jinn Hunter’s Apprentice: A spaceship set for Ganymede has an unexpected hiccup when it becomes infested with djinn. I would think sci-fi and djinn wouldn't mix well, but this is a solid story. 4/5

K.J. Parker — Message in a Bottle: During the Middle Ages, a scholar tries to determine if a previous now dead scholar's bottle labeled "For the plague" is a cure, or a new strain that will wipe out humanity. Well written, but couldn't he test it on people in confinement? 3/5

Saad Hossein — Bring Your Own Spoon: In a post apocalypse where food is scarce, a man decides to start a restaurant with the help of a djinn. 3.5/5

Neil Gaiman — Somewhere in America: This is an excerpt from American Gods, and one of the few chapters I remember completely. It works really well on its own. A man is sent to America to sell his brother-in-laws cheap nic nacs, and finds an unexpected friend in a cab driver. 4.5/5

Jamal Mahjoub — Duende 2077: There's a murder, and the detective trying to solve the case runs into some complications that herald to his past. Never understood exactly who the murderer was. 3/5

Sophia Al-Maria — The Righteous Guide of Arabsat: In the contemporary Middle East, a sexually repressed guy marries what his mother claims to be a 'good girl.' But after discovering his new wife knows more about sex than he, he decides she must be possessed by a djinn. Reminds me of Victorian era attitudes toward sex. A disturbing story. 4/5

Kirsty Logan — The Spite House: A half djinn/half human woman takes the leftover junk people leave in their yards, but when a woman confronts her about this and makes a wish, she feels a power overtake her. But is she the one with the power? I liked the switch in dynamics here. 4/5

Usman Malik — Emperors of Jinn: A group of rich children become obsessed with a spellbook that calls djinn. These are some truly evil brats. 3.5/5

Nnedi Okorafor — History: A superstar singer prepares for a televised concert, and reflects on a childhood spent in Africa, and the magic she learned there, and the bush baby she caught that lives in her mirror. I really liked this story, but it felt like it was referring to something else--maybe a novel Okorafor has written? 3.5/5

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I tried over the months to read this book. I found its negativity and coarseness(at times) so off-putting that I have given up on finishing it. I asked for the book because of the Neil Gaiman piece. It turned out to be a reprint from one of his books. One I had read already. Reading this book felt like a self-inflicted injury.
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The thing with collections is that not every story is going to be a hit with every reader. For the most part though I found this enjoyable.
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I genuinely liked this book and all of the different writers. They all brought something to the stories of djinn and it was enjoyable. Some stories more than others but I will be recommending this book to any that want a diverse read with many talented authors.
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I have not read anything with Genies, nothing NADA! So when I saw this I jumped on the chance to read it. I love reading short story collections, you get to read from authors that you have never read from before and to see if you like their writing style. This collection of short stories is from authors all over the world and it is their take on the djinn and some of the myths,tales that they have heard whilst growing up or heard. The only author that I had heard and read beforehand was Neil Gaiman, I read ‘The Ocean at the end of the Lane’ years ago and enjoyed it so I knew there would be one possible story that I would like.

So going into this I knew nothing about Genie’s/Djinn other than Aladdin! The book has an introduction written by the editors Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin explaining how this book came together and the different authors involved. We also had the The Djinn Falls In Love by Hermes which is poem about a djinn which I really enjoyed.

There are 20 stories in this collection in total and are all very different, however I found the majority of them to be a little dull and wasn’t holding my attention or the story line/plot got confusing. There were however some really great ones that I loved such as ‘Spite House’ and ‘Reap’. I must admit that there will be something for everyone as there several different genres within.

‘Reap’ by Sami Shah – This was a 5 star from me. This is a story about a small team who use a drone for surveillance on a small village in Pakistan. They have to watch the residents of this village and one family has 11 children, but one day Miriam, the youngest, doesn’t return with the clan. This has supernatural elements and is pretty scary but truly wonderful and had me gripped all the way through.

This is not one of my favourite short story collection as there were just too many that didn’t hold my interest or was a little confusing. The cover though is beautiful and recommend if you want to read some different interpretations about Djinn.

I rated this 2.5 out of 5 stars
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I initially requested this book because I saw it included stories by Neil Gaiman and Maria Dahvana Headley, but once I started reading it I realized there were so many more stories in it that I would come to treasure.

Some of the stories were pleasant to read in my own time, such as The Congregation by Kamila Shamsie, but others felt like they would be better read aloud. Hurrem and the Djinn by Claire North had that precise feel, that of a story being told to me as opposed to one that I was reading. While reading it I felt like I was tripping over some of the sentences, but if I took a moment and read the sentence aloud to someone next to me, the words flowed more easily, sounded more like a fantastical tale that could be passed down or along.

My favorite by far was Reap by Sami Shah. It flew in the face of any expectation or portrayal of djinn I'd ever seen before and was very intense. I was afraid, nervous, and a great many things. @Aimalfarooq on Twitter warned me not to read it at night and did I listen? Nope! Haha, while I don't regret reading it, I might suggest that if you have a tendency to be nervous in the dark, maybe leave this one for the daytime. Trust me.

This was a great collection of shorts stories. With so many of them, the amount of ones I liked to ones I didn't care for as much was far higher than I expected. With collections like this with so many authors, it's hard to tell sometimes how it will go quality wise because there are different factors to take into account, such style, voice and the like. 

Would I recommend this collection? Very much Yes!
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I love books that get to take me on various journeys and the ones that are perhaps dearest to my heart are short story compendiums where I get to try a great many authors to see if I like thier writing style.  

Whilst I'm going to admit that I really didn't enjoy the vast majority of tales within, I do have to say that there are a fair few authors that I'm paying attention to for future outings.  Yes the tales weren't outstanding as far as I was concerned but I could see the architecture of the creation beneath them.  All round not a book I'd recommend at the moment but at least I have some new names to watch out for in future endeavours which for me is worth the price of the book.
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“Indeed We created man from dried clay of black smooth mud.  And We created the Jinn before that from the smokeless flame of fire.” (Quran 15:26-27)

As a Muslim, lore for me has been rather different than the lore you might have grown up with. Of course there are no such things as vampires, werewolves, tooth-fairies, or poltergeists, but Jinn? Jinn are real. Some in Pakistan say they dwell at the tops of trees, some use them as a means to caution children to not play outside past sunset. Don’t pick up random things on the street – they might belong to the Jinn, and they’ll get mad if you steal from them, and they’ll never leave you alone. I can’t speak for much, but I can speak for Pakistan – there, Jinn are often the stuff of nightmares. They change their face, they latch onto you and make you do unthinkable things. Not unlike demons in exorcism movies, actually.

But then there are those that say that Jinn are just like men; they can be categorized plainly as good or bad. There are Jinn who are good Muslims, just like there are men who are good Muslims. They pray five times a day, they spend their lives in loyalty and devotion to Allah, and they live side-by-side to men. Hell, there might be one sitting right next to you while you read this, but he’s a good Jinn. He won’t bother you.

Sometimes I forget how diverse of a religion Islam is. From the 22 million Muslims living in China to the millions upon millions living in South Asia, from the Middle East to Africa to Europe and North America. Islam is followed by nearly 25% of the world’s population, scattered all over the globe. Religion, much like everything else, is saturated by culture – hence, much of the lore is saturated by the culture of the person reading it, the setting, the practices, the history. Like I said, Jinn in Pakistan are usually seen as nightmarish beings, but in other places, they’re seen as magical superior beings who have powers that men do not, while in other places, they’re seen as common entities that you just don’t happen to see – like the air around you.

The Djinn Falls in Love was a reminder of the diversity of Islam, and the Muslims that practice it. And, in some cases, the people who don’t practice Islam at all, yet they encounter Jinn anyway. This is the epitome of a diverse book; each and every story teaches you something different about the part of the world it is set in, something different about a culture that you might not have been familiar with. From futuristic dystopian Bangladesh to the outskirts of rural Pakistan to the rainy streets of New York City and even something set in outer space. From Jinn who are separated half-brothers, to business partners, to taxi drivers, to lovers, to best friends, to horrors who will possess your soul. The collection presents the Jinn in a vast, creative manner that will leave you itching to find out more about an entity that has the ability to manifest itself in any way that it chooses.

There’s a story in this collection for everyone. If you enjoy angsty paranormal romances, “Majnun” by Helene Wecker might appeal to you – the story of a young man, now an exorcist, who had a female Jinn for a lover. If you enjoy spiritual tales about brotherhood, “The Congregation” by Shamila Shamsie may make you weep. Fancy some fantasy with traditional Middle Eastern royalty and magic rings and portals? Check out “Hurrem and the Djinn” by Claire North. Space stories tinged with a shade of horror? “Duende 2077” by Jamal Mahjoub. There is something in this collection that will appeal to you, regardless of your genre preference or technical literature preferences.

But despite hosting stories from heavy-weights in the industry like Kamila Shamsie (who is perhaps the most prominent contemporary Pakistani writer of our time), Nnedi Okorafor (author of Binti), Helene Wecker (the critically acclaimed writer who penned The Golem and the Jinni), and Neil Gaiman (who is the master of fantasy and lore), the stories that really stand out are others’.

Perhaps my favorite short story of all-time (note, I said all-time, not just in this collection) was “Reap” by Sami Shah, involving a team at a base flying US drones near the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. They’re preparing to bomb the region, waiting on orders, but spend their time surveilling the four or five houses in that region. And one night, they see something terrifying – a little girl, resident of one of these houses, is doing unimaginable things, inhuman things. I read this story a while ago, and I’m still reeling from its impact. It’s spine-chillingly horrifying, the stuff of nightmares, given the vivid imagery and the dense writing – a Jinn story in true Pakistani fashion. But more than that, it offers some of the most subtly wonderful political commentary I have ever read in any book, let alone a short story. About the senselessness of performing warfare, dropping bombs on rural areas while sitting behind a console, drinking coffee and joking around with your friends. How it might feel if a predator came after you just as you send a different sort of predator to someone else- a predator you don’t understand, can’t see, and can’t reach. It’s an incredible, incredible story that I would suggest everyone read, even if they read nothing else from the book at all.

Another favorite was “Bring Your Own Spoon” by Saad Z. Hossain, which is a futuristic dystopian story set in Bangladesh, where the city of Dhaka is divided into zones. Hanu lives in one of these zones, where food is scarce and poverty is rampant. One day, Hanu and a Jinn named Imbidor arrive at an agreement; they’ll establish their own restaurant for the people living in what they call The Fringe. Despite being a short story, “Bring Your Own Spoon” is nothing short of a masterpiece, with beautifully crafted characters, an incredibly developed dystopian world and a plot that you’ll keep up with as if you’re watching an especially enticing movie. It’s imaginative, it’s different, and it’s captivating.

But despite having some standouts, many of the stories fell flat for me – some that I felt were trying to do too much with too little, some where the lore didn’t seem as established as in others, and some that just didn’t appeal to me with their thematic elements. All-in-all, despite some cold stories, it’s a worthy addition to your bookshelf, and a book that anybody who advocates for diversity in literature needs to pick up. It is truly diverse, in the very sense of the word.
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I was drawn to this book originally because of the Neil Gaiman story, which is of course fantastic, but the best part of being introduced to collections like this is being shown glimpses of truly talented writers that ordinarily I wouldn't have heard of.  A unique collection that brings together stories from around the globe of Djinns or genies.  Each one different in their own way, but all are highly enjoyable.
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A wide variety of short tales featuring very different types of djinns/jinns/genies, some anchored in reality, some in mysticism, others SF-ish. Some authors I already knew and read before, some I didn't even hear about, but I would check some more works from most of them.
Below, each of the stories rated with its own stars and a few words of each.

The Djinn Falls in Love by Hermes (trans. Robin Moger) – 3/5★
The poem begins lovely, but its continuation eluded me..

The Congregation by Kamila Shamsie - 4.5/5★
A very interesting mix between mythology, fantasy and Islamic culture, featuring a boy searching for his other half. The imagery and the allegories are superbe!

How We Remember You by Kuzhali Manickavel - 4/5★
A mysterious story with Indian flavour, about cruelty, mistakes and regret. 

Hurrem and the Djinn by Claire North - 4.5/5★
Turkish delights written by a dear to me author, in her intimate and revealing style. Did I mention how much I love her beginnings and the the way she interacts with the reader, how the reading experience is transformed into a confidence or a dialogue?

Glass Lights by J.Y. Yang - 3/5★
Would have been interesting if further developed. In its current form, it lacks in plot..

Authenticity by Monica Byrne - 2/5★
Something with sex and porn movies, I didn’t get this one..

Majnun by Helene Wecker - 4/5★
An islamic story about a (former?) jinn who, due to a religious crisis, now exorcises jinni out of people.

Black Powder by Maria Dahvana Headley - 4/5★
Longest and most complex so far, alternating present/past events, different storylines and jogling with a mix between gold rush, Wild West, genies and Tales of 1001 Arabian Nights. It reminded me a lot of Catherynne M. Valente’s style in Six-Gun Snow White.
Even if at first I was reluctant, it caught my attention along the way, although I’m not sure I really understood it..

A Tale of Ash in Seven Birds by Amal El-Mohtar - 3/5★
Wizard-nation hunts sparrow, reincarnated into crow, reincarnated into cormorant, reincarnated into hummingbird… Poetic, but I didn't really get why it was included in this collection.

The Sand in the Glass is Right by James Smythe - 4.5/5★
This one was really good! And it got even better on a second read. It’s about a guy who finds THE magic lamp and tries to outsmart the trickster genie inside. I loved the different scenarios, the moral issues it raises, the whole living for the next life thing.

Reap by Sami Shah - 4.5/5★
A strange mix of reality and ghost-revenge horror movie script: during a long distance drone surveillance of a potential terrorist group in Pakistan, a US military unit witnesses some surreal and disturbing events. Very good writing!

Queen of Sheba by Catherine Faris King- 4.5/5★
Kind of cryptic, just hints of what might be, about a twelve year old girl who has memories that are not really her own.

The Jinn Hunter’s Apprentice by E.J. Swift - 4/5★
A spaceship set for Mars/Ganymede is highjacked by djinns, and a jinn hunter's apprentice comes to investigate and solve the matter - very interesting concept.

Message in a Bottle by K.J. Parker - 4.5/5★
Set in the Middle Ages, a scholar is chosen to decide the future of humanity during an epidemic: another long-dead scholar left a tome and a bottle labeled "For the plague", but was he well intended or evil-minded? is there a cure in the bottle or an even worse strain of the plague, that could end everything? How can he make a decision when both options seem equally viable?
Almost forgot how much I like K.J. Parker’s writing, I clearly must read some more of his works soon!

Bring Your Own Spoon by Saad Hossein - 4.5/5★
Seeming at first just another dystopian future, this short story leaves you thinking at segregation and the few rich oppressing the many poor and the importance of community. A new side of the jinn is featured, more human than even some humans.

Somewhere in America by Neil Gaiman - 4.5/5★
Very good written, excellent characterization, clearly I must read American Gods, see if I also like it.

Duende 2077 by Jamal Majoub - 4/5★
In a dystopian future, where the capitalism failed and died, all the world(?) is now is an Islamic Caliphate - interesting concept, good execution, a little too cryptic.

The Righteous Guide of Arabsat by Sophia Al-Maria - 3/5★
This was rather shocking, set in an islamic(?) family, where a newlywed man with several issues believes his wife is possessed because she knows a little too much (in his opinion) about sex.

The Spite House by Kirsty Logan - 3/5★
Is the ability to fulfil wishes a gift or a curse? You can be sure of the answer when the one wishing is an evil person, looking for revenge.

Emperors of Jinn by Usman Malik - 3/5★
I expected something better here, the writing is good, the idea interesting, but I feel I missed something..

History by Nnedi Okorafor - 3.5/5★
The story of History, the most famous singer-dancer in the world, who manages to enthrall both humans and magical creatures with her art, coming from her own exquisite talent, enhanced even more by a bush baby’s magic. It is interesting enough, though quite mystical and with a little too many magical cretures for my tastes.


Overall, I enjoyed this collection very much and I would recommend it to fantasy and magic literature lovers. A total rating of 3.8, rounded up to 4 stars.


P.S.1. I was under the impression, from TOR’s site, that there was one more story included ( Time is a Teacher by Nada Adel Sobhi), but I didn’t find it in my collection.

P.S.2. Just as a mention: although in some collections there are also works you can read online, I didn't find any of the stories here on the internet, as far as I can tell, all of them are written especially for this anthology.
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As expected from any anthology, some stories were better then others. I did like most of them though, and that says something. I thought the theme chosen is very unique and fascinating, as well the authors that were chosen to write the stories. Would love to hear more from some of them!
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Fabulous collection of Djinn. There was the occasional poetry, too. I liked how the editors respected the author's spelling, stating that different cultures have different spellings.
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Great few stories here all different but interesting all the same, I had no idea there were actually good Djinn as well as bad and I was fascinated to see how different each one was and I thought the collection was unlike any kind I've seen or read before. Beautiful stories in places and enlightening too, my favourite by far was congregation....a must read for anyone looking for something different than the norm!
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This collection of short stories is one of the strongest I’ve seen in a while; definitely the strongest I’ve yet read in 2017.

This collection takes stories by twenty-two authors from all over the world, all dealing in some form with the djinn – the fantastical beings of smoke and fire. I picked up this collection due to some authors who’s work I was already familiar with – Neil Gaiman, Claire North, Amal El-Mohtar, Helene Wecker, and Nnedi Okorafor. Turns out, most of my favorite stories were by authors who were new to me. Oh, and the Neil Gaiman story was an excerpt from American Gods, so don’t pick this collection up based on him.


Some of my favorite stories were those that added djinns to futuristic, science fiction settings. In “The Jinn Hunger’s Apprentice” by E.J. Swift, a spaceship is haunted by jinn. The crew is desperate enough to call in an exorcist, but who is the woman who answers their call? This short story was so much fun and I’d actually love to read more in this universe. The same is true of “Bring Your Own Spoon” by Saad Hossein. In this future, the very air is toxic and the vast majority of the population has never known real food, only artificial stuff that comes out of a processor. But a chef and a djinn begin to change things when they work together to create a restaurant in this delightful tale. There was one other science fiction story, but I found it confusing. “Duende 2077” by Jamal Mahjoub is a murder mystery set in the future. Some of the world building concepts seem interesting, but I still don’t understand who was behind the murder.

Some of the other stories in the collection are confusing as well. “The Sand in the Glass is Right” by James Smythe wins the award in this category. The story’s constantly switching POV characters, and I’d probably need to read it again to figure out what’s going on. Another confusing but ultimately more successful story is “Black Powder” by Maria Dahvana Headley, in which an old rifle is possessed by a djinn. I loved the character of the Huntress, a mysterious woman who lives through centuries and seems to be searching for djinn. I might not have understood everything going on in “Black Powder,” but I still enjoyed the journey.

“Glass Lights” by J.Y. Yang is beautifully written, but it did feel aimless and like it ended suddenly. Still, the writing made me excited to try more J.Y. Yang, particularly those queer fantasy novellas they’ve got coming out in August. “A Tale of Ash in Seven Birds” by Amal El-Mohtar is also a lyrically told story, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I have other works by El-Mohtar. Maybe it was too abstract for me.

There were other stories that left me cold. “Queen of Sheba” by Catherine King was a solid but forgettable story of a girl who’s inherited the ability to see spirits. “How We Remember You” by Kuzhali Manickavel falls too close to magical realism for my taste. “Authenticity” by Monica Byrne was so not my sort of story – a college student seeking authentic experiences visits a porn shoot. “History” by Nnedi Okorafor was one I was looking forward to based on the author. However, I never connected with the pop star diva who summons spirits to use in her performances, and I don’t think it will be too long before the story slides from my mind. “The Emperor’s of Jinn” by Usman Malik  and “The Righteous Guide of Arabsat” by Sophia Al-Maria fall into this category as well.

Of all the authors I was already familiar with, I enjoyed Claire North and Helene Wecker’s stories the most. Claire North wrote “Hurrem and the Djinn.” The sultan’s favorite concubine is so powerful that it’s obvious that she must be using dark magic! How else could a woman achieve such influence? In “Majnun” by Helene Wecker, a djinn has become an exorcist, even as his ex-lover pleads with him to come back to her.

But as I previously mentioned, most of the stand out stories were by authors whose work I’d never encountered before. “The Congregation” by Kamila Shamsie is a bittersweet story of a boy who encounters a congregation of djinn and a strong connection with one of them. “Message in a Bottle” by K.J. Parker didn’t seem to involve much in the way of djinn at all, but I liked the conundrum of whether a bottle in a medieval city contains the cure for a plague or a more virulent strain that will wipe out humankind. In “The Spite House” by Kirsty Logan, the daughter of a djinn finds herself overcome by a woman’s wishes. This story uses a sense of rising horror quite wonderfully, much like my favorite story of the collection…

“REAP” by Sami Shah was undoubtedly my favorite. First of all, the method of storytelling is brilliant. The protagonist is a member of an American team observing and analyzing the feed of a drone stationed over Iraq. But through their video feed, the team becomes witness to a horrific supernatural tale.

While the stories I picked this collection up for ended up not being as wonderful as I’d liked, it meant that I discovered many new authors whose works I will have to read more of! I would not hesitate to recommend this collection.
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