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Reviews of The Djinn Waits a Hundred Years by Shubnum Khan

The Djinn Waits a Hundred Years

A Novel

by Shubnum Khan

The Djinn Waits a Hundred Years by Shubnum Khan X
The Djinn Waits a Hundred Years by Shubnum Khan
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  • Published:
    Jan 2024, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Jo-Anne Blanco
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About this Book

Book Summary

"A dark and heady dream of a book" (Alix E. Harrow) about a ruined mansion by the sea, the djinn that haunts it, and a curious girl who unearths the tragedy that happened there a hundred years previous

Akbar Manzil was once a grand estate off the coast of South Africa. Nearly a century later, it stands in ruins: an isolated boardinghouse for eclectic misfits, seeking solely to disappear into the mansion's dark corridors. Except for Sana. Unlike the others, she is curious and questioning and finds herself irresistibly drawn to the history of the mansion: To the eerie and forgotten East Wing, home to a clutter of broken and abandoned objects—and to the door at its end, locked for decades.

Behind the door is a bedroom frozen in time and a worn diary that whispers of a dark past: the long-forgotten story of a young woman named Meena, who died there tragically a hundred years ago. Watching Sana from the room's shadows is a besotted, grieving djinn, an invisible spirit who has haunted the mansion since her mysterious death. Obsessed with Meena's story, and unaware of the creature that follows her, Sana digs into the past like fingers into a wound, dredging up old and terrible secrets that will change the lives of everyone living and dead at Akbar Manzil. Sublime, heart-wrenching, and lyrically stunning, The Djinn Waits a Hundred Years is a haunting, a love story, and a mystery, all twined beautifully into one young girl's search for belonging.

Prologue

1932

In an old wardrobe a djinn sits weeping.

It whimpers and murmurs small words of complaint. It sucks its teeth and berates the heavens for its fate. It curses the day it ever entered this damned house. It closes its eyes and tries to imagine a time before it came here, before it followed the sound of stars from the shore, before the world turned dark and empty.

Something thuds somewhere and the djinn is drawn from its misery by a commotion happening outside. It stops to listen and sounds begin to emerge; doors bang, windows shut, and things are thrown about. There are shouts as orders are given and people hurry through passages. They run up and down and bump heavy things along the stairs.

The djinn pauses, then it uncurls its limbs, swings open the cupboard, and steps out.

There is the patter of footsteps, then the front door slams downstairs and everything is suddenly still.

The djinn steps into the passage and looks around curiously. The floor is scattered with clothing ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!
  1. A bildungsroman, which roughly translates to a "novel of formation," is defined as a coming-of-age novel that explores how a protagonist develops morally and psychologically, from childhood to adulthood. Would you say The Djinn Waits a Hundred Years is a bildungsroman?
  2. The novel features a wide range of eccentric characters, each with their own story of love and loss. How does each character play a key role in Sana's character arc and that of the mystery at the heart of the novel?
  3. Many of those eccentric characters are funny! What role does humor play in the novel?
  4. Akbar Manzil, too, has a personality, as well as memories of its own. In what ways is the mansion a key character in the book?
  5. Along with carefully balancing her host of ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Hauntings are at the heart of this beautifully written and constructed novel. Both Akbar Manzil and Sana are haunted: the house by the djinn who loved and lost, and Sana by another ghost; though Sana's supernatural encounters are depicted in so skillful and ambiguous a way that her haunting could just as easily be real or a product of her own imagination and guilt. A tantalizing slow burn at first, the plot is superbly paced. Tension builds as the book travels back and forth through time, unveiling events as Sana pieces together what she can of the mystery and heightening anticipation for further revelations. An exquisite, lyrical, heart-rending tale of love and loss, estrangement and belonging; and an enthralling mystery spanning a century of history and heritage — just like the djinn itself, who waits a hundred years...continued

Full Review Members Only (622 words)

(Reviewed by Jo-Anne Blanco).

Media Reviews

AudioFile Magazine
Expect gothic thrills in this novel about the mysterious legacy of a mansion off the coast of South Africa.

BookPage
Dazzling…a magical and richly atmospheric gothic coming-of-age tale…Cinematic in scope and rendered in redolent prose, The Djinn Waits a Hundred Years is a deeply immersive and inventive exploration of the many facets of love, loneliness and grief. Khan's descriptions of Durban ground the story despite its fantastical elements, making the novel all the more compelling. Fueled by its vivid details, bewitching setting and a colorful cast of characters (including the house Akbar Manzil itself ), this engrossing read acts as a potent reminder that the past does not merely hold the power to hurt us, but also to heal us.

Debutiful
Filled with luscious prose, her book is a vivid coming-of-age that uses gothic undertones to explore romance and beauty in a refreshing and haunting way.

Ms. Magazine
South African writer and artist Shubnum Khan makes her stunning U.S. debut with this genre-bending gothic horror fantasy mystery."

Polygon
A sumptuous and haunting multi-generational saga set in a crumbling estate along the coast of South Africa, The Djinn Waits a Hundred Years promises to be a fresh take on a classic and beloved genre.

Shelf Awareness
Shubnum Khan is a spellbinding storyteller. Her subtly spooky debut is a marvelous literary tableau, offsetting an enchanting love story amid the opulent grounds of a palatial manor (once "the grandest house on the east coast of Africa") with revelations of the mysterious tragedy that led to Akbar Manzil's abandonment.

Booklist
Beautifully written with intriguing characters and a story line that spans time, this subtle fantasy novel mixes historical fiction with dark fairy tales.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Khan's prose is lush and lovely, her pacing skillful, and she successfully weaves a complex plot with a large cast. A ghost story, a love story, a mystery—this seductive novel has it all.

Library Journal (starred review)
Khan stuns with a multigenerational gothic tale infused with magical realism, set at Akbar Manzil, a crumbling, formerly grand estate off the coast of South Africa that now serves as a boardinghouse….This novel is a mystery and a love story fraught with heartbreak, infused with Islamic mythology, and written in evocative, lyrical prose. Fans of Isabel Allende and Alice Hoffman will be enchanted with this beautiful book

Publishers Weekly
South African novelist Khan blends gothic tropes with Indian mythology in her poignant U.S. debut...The novel coheres as Khan portrays the house's point of view, showing in playful and evocative prose how it responds to new residents...This holds its own in a crowded field of neo-gothic fiction.

Author Blurb Alix E. Harrow, New York Times bestselling author of The Starling House
The Djinn Waits a Hundred Years is a dark and heady dream of a book, which reveals itself in layers as a gothic horror, a tragic romance, and a classic coming-of-age tale. Hauntingly gorgeous.

Author Blurb Yangsze Choo, New York Times bestselling author of The Night Tiger
Filled with wonder and colour, the secrets of the dilapidated mansion Akbar Manzil come to life in this rich tale of loss and love. The arrival of 15 year old Sana, who is herself haunted, is the catalyst that revives long-forgotten memories, as well as the spirit that still lingers in the empty rooms. I was enthralled and completely swept away by Khan's masterful unspooling of family secrets, fatal jealousy, and a love that endures after death.

Reader Reviews

Gloria M

Unexpectedly Good!
The title of Shubnum Khan's latest novel, "The Djinn Waits A Hundred Years" made me stop and wonder just how quirky this tale would be?  I am so happy my initial reaction did not prevent me from reading it!   It is great!

Who does not love the ...   Read More

Write your own review!

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Beyond the Book

The Djinn in Islamic Folk Culture

Color illustration of Zawba'a, the king of the djinns with Arabic lettering from a 14th-century manuscriptIn Shubnum Khan's debut novel The Djinn Waits a Hundred Years, set amidst the Indian diaspora of South Africa, fifteen-year-old Sana and her father move into a dilapidated house by the sea that is haunted by a djinn. The djinn is the link between past and present, a connection between the 21st-century tenants and the immigrant family who lived there in the early 1930s. This mythic spirit serves as a manifestation of the Islamic history and culture brought to South Africa by the Muslim Indian émigrés — an unseen witness to their past and present lives.

In her CrimeReads essay, "Decolonizing the Gothic," Khan writes of her family history and the stories told by her grandfather, who emigrated to South Africa in 1935. Among ...

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