A magical and pacy middle-grade debut following a young girl’s adventure from modern-day Pakistan into the world of the jinn.
Nura has worked all her life in the mica mines, earning just enough to keep her family afloat – and to enjoy the odd delicious gulab jamun from the market. Some day she’s going to find the Demon’s Tongue, a legendary treasure buried deep in the mines, and she’ll never have to worry about money again.
Then a terrible accident buries her best friend in the mines. Desperate to save him, Nura digs too deep and passes over into the magical and terrible world of the jinn. Across a pink sea and under a purple sky, she finds her way to a palace, where great riches and a whole new life are on offer.
But it’s not long before Nura discovers this world to be as unfair as the real one, and that trickster jinn always live up to their reputation…
Nura and the Immortal Palace, by M.T. Khan, published Walker Books is out now, priced £7.99
Nura has spent most of her life in the mines, mining for mica. Although her mother is adamant that Nura needs to stop working so that she can get an educatio, Nura is taking it upon herself to help provide for her mother and siblings. Nura is determined to find the Demon’s Tongue which will mean that her family are set for life. No one really knows what the Demon’s Tongue but it could be any kind of treasure. During the search its Nura’s actions which inadvertently cause a cave in and her friend Faisal and some other children are left behind. When the tunnel is searched and Faisal and the other children are not found, Nura makes it her mission to find them. It’s during her search that she is transported to the jinn world and the Sijj Palace. Will Nura find Faisal and the missing children? Will she be able to escape the Sijj Palace and return home?
I’ve not read a middle grade book in a few years but when I saw this book and the description it just sounded like something I really wanted to read. This was such a fun read. The storyline was engaging, well-structured and I found myself transported to the jinn world with Nura. The Sijj Palace sounded absolutely fascinating because although it was full of jinn it was colourful, bright and full of so many possibilities. Nura is given a glimpse and a taste of the luxuries that The Sijj Palace has which she doesn’t have access to at home. It’s a completely different way of life and something that she’s not use to which further entices her into this new world.
The subject of greed plays a big part not only for Nura but also the jinns. But Nura quickly realises that greed in general could have a detrimental impact on her life and could determine whether or not she sees her mother and siblings again. The concept of the story was fascinating. Jinns are essentially spirits and tricksters but as Nura finds out that not all jinns are scary and some are good. My final thought when turning the last page is that I wish there’d been a book like this when I was younger. I loved how the story incorporated South Asian culture and that I could look at Nura and see someone who looked like me. I loved all of the references to South Asian culture from the food to the outfits. I also really liked that one of the key messages of this book was education and the important part it plays in a person’s life. From the start of the book Nura’s mother is very forward thinking and keen for her daughter not to work but to have an education. Although Nura dismisses this offhand to begin with as the story progresses she quickly realises that actually education is important.
An epic adventure into the world of the jinn which is best enjoyed with a plate of jalebi or gulab jamun.
M.T. KHAN is a SFF writer from Pakistan, now living in Canada.
She focuses on stories close to her heart, evoking cultural and societal conversations through her works.When she’s not writing, M.T. Khan has her nose deep in physics textbooks or glued to her CAD computer as she majors in Mechanical Engineering. She currently resides in Toronto, Canada, with a hyperactive cat and an increasing selection of fantasy video games.