Book Review: Jack and Djinn: The Houri Legends – Out of the Frying Pan and into the Fire

Jack and Djinn

I’ve always been fascinated with the lore surrounding the djinn. Modern media almost always portrays them as vengeful, blood-thirsty supernatural beings with a vendetta. My understanding of the djinn, and my knowledge is by no means exhaustive, is that they are something of a third “race” of being in Arabian and Islamic mythology (and no, these aren’t the same thing). God was said to have created humans, the angels and the djinn. The djinn are not inherently malevolent; in fact they are said to have free will, much like humans. As a result there are good, bad and “neutral” djinn. Furthermore, if my knowledge is sound, djinn lore is where the idea of genies come from. So, you can imagine by excitement when I came across this book which seemed to have a positive spin on the djinn, rather than the usual humdrum negativity that has been dominant in literature and other media. My excitement waned when I realised that, technically, the title should read: “Jack and Djinni”, unless Jack was drinking with a bevy of genies…

The Plot

Miriam needs a change. She’s had a rough go of it and things don’t seem to be getting any better. Her boyfriend is abusive and getting worse, while she lives in a tiny apartment above the bar where she works. Her boss is good to her but she’s not sure how much longer she’ll survive Ben’s drunken episodes. Jack walks into her life and makes all the worry and the pain go away. He doesn’t judge, he doesn’t pressure her to leave Ben or lay charges, he supports her and is there when she needs him. One night, Ben has his worst episode yet and beats Miriam almost to death. No-one expects that she will survive. Her body and spirit are both broken, but like a phoenix, she rises from the fire and the ash to reclaim her life.

“I remember thinkin’ when I first saw her, man, whoever done this to her hated her. I seen a lot in my thirty years at this hospital. I seen boys gang-beat and curb-stomped and hit with bats and stabbed and shot…shit, you’re a cop-you know what happens. This girl was beat to death, only she didn’t die.”

Writing Style

The writing style was easy and had good flow. This book didn’t have those all too common grammatical issues. Clearly, Jasinda Wilder knows what she’s doing. I particularly appreciated that the only time there was any sort of grammatical error was when it was used in direct speech which usually denoted an accent (as illustrated in the quote above).

The book follows two different characters and during different timelines. This had the potential to get confusing but Wilder kept it together effortlessly. Part of the story follows Miriam and her struggles, while the other part focused on Detective Carson and the case he is investigating. A case which is making less and less sense the deeper he gets. The entire book is written in the third person, which was a smart choice. I have seen authors write in the first person for one character and the third for another. It becomes clunky, so I’m please with the style that Wilder chose to employ here.

The Review

There are so many things that I like about this book. The way in which the abuse it handled by the author is well considered without being blasé. Some of Miriam decisions seem stupid, at first, but if you understand the psyche of an abused person, you realise that she really doesn’t seem to understand that there are other choices available to her.

The moral issues that Det. Carson faces are not easy ones and Wilder forces the reader to consider the real world implications of the supernatural occurrences in the narrative. Unlike films, like The Avengers or Die Hard, which gloss over public expense and personal morality. Regarding the actual djinn, I appreciate that Wilder kept with the traditional lore of the djinn being made of or being able to control fire. She makes it more elemental and included some of her own ideas, which weren’t very traditional but worked very well for a modern novel about an ancient mythological entity. The djinn are explained in such a way that you don’t have to have any previous knowledge in order to understand what is happening.

A really fun read with some good ups and downs. If you’re looking for a supernatural romance novel with some real world situations and solutions, give this one a read.

My Rating: 4/5

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