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I’ve recently started reviewing new and upcoming books directly from publishers through NetGalley, and Djinn was one of my first reads. (I also recently reviewed The Soul Thief, which I’ll write a blog post on soon, and a few LGBT+ subject children’s books.) Except to see this book mentioned in a YA review round-up review video soon on my YouTube channel, The Westveil Archives!
Note – I received a free ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Bijou has lived a sheltered life, homeschooled her whole life up until now, and moving from town to town frequently. She lives with her grandmother Gigi, a famous author who writes under a pseudonym and valiantly fights for their privacy. With this most recent move, Bijou has convinced her grandmother to let her attend a public high school for the first time. Adjusting to high school at the age of 16 is hard enough, but Bijou seems to have a whole lot of paranormal troubles to deal with now that she has teachers and classmates to interact with. 16-year-old girls who share her birthday, ones who are about to turn 17 on the Summer Solstice, are going missing. One of her teachers is obsessed with djinn to an extreme. Two of her new classmates seem to be seeing and feeling all the strange things she’s noticing, but no one else does.
This is a fascinating coming of age story based on Lebanese mythology. Djinn is a term used for all paranormal creatures on Earth who are descendants of ancient pairings between humans and gods, the original four Elemental Ancients. The title, Djinn, is what caught my eye and made me request this book to review. I’ve been fascinated by djinn since reading the Bartimaeus trilogy as a teenager, and although this book didn’t feature a witty creature from another plane here to do his master’s bidding, it was entertaining and well written.
I think this is classified as YA only because the protagonist is a teenager and one of the central settings is a high school. The reading level and complexity of the plot are far more advanced than the average YA novels I’ve read, and I would be tempted to call it NA instead. I’ll settle for calling it “advanced” YA.
I really do hope that Sang Kromah writes a sequel since the ending felt like it set one up quite nicely, though it did tie up enough strings to stand on its own. The reason I rate this 4 stars rather than 5 is that it took almost the entire first chapter to capture my interest, and the interludes into Bijou’s dreams were so dense in the first half of the novel that I was constantly tempted to skim through those sections. Also, the cards Bijou constantly shuffles as a coping mechanism just plain disappear from the story partway through and it isn’t acknowledged until another character calls her out for suddenly bringing them back near the end. I’m sure the lack of cards was supposed to be symbolic, but given how important they are to her in the beginning, the unnoticed absence of the cards for a significant portion of the latter half of the novel felt like an oversight.
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