‘The Djinn’ is a standalone horror novel set in 1970s America and follows Harry Erskine, a small-time clairvoyant, as he tries to help his terrified godmother, Marjorie Greaves, after the suspicious death of her husband, Max. Harry’s godfather, a once successful business man and antique collector, had at one point procured a Persian jar thought to have been owned by Ali Baba and has figured out that an ancient evil djinn inhabits it. This is not the kind of djinn that grants wishes for its freedom and has been affecting Max insidiously into releasing it from the jar to wreck havoc.
Although Harry works as a clairvoyant, he does not believe in magic and is convinced the jar is just a jar until Anna, a beautiful and mysterious stranger, offers her help in discovering the jars mysteries. Anna has come to the funeral to ascertain and retrieve the jar for the Iranian government, if it is indeed Ali Baba’s, as it is a national treasure. Harry and Anna recruit Professor Qualt, an academic of ancient folklore and Middle Eastern culture, into helping them figure out what to do with the jar which Max Greaves has sealed into the tower in his house using ancient magic spells.
The djinn in the jar was owned and used by the sorcerer Ali Baba and was called Forty Thieves or Forty Stealers of Life. The djinn is one of the most powerful of its kind, a shapeshifter that can take 40 different and dangerous forms to kill people in the most gruesome ways. Max Greaves had sacrificed himself instead of letting the djinn out but there are others that wish to release the djinn into the world that Harry needs to stop.
The book is a fun read if you don’t think about it too hard and ignore some of the strange dialogue and the confusing characters and their motivations. Harry as a clairvoyant does believe he can read tarot cards and recognises that the jar has a djinn in it but spends most of the book denying magic is real. Professor Qualt is also just as hypocritical. Anna who is the only one to believe from the start that the jar has a dangerous djinn in it starts to worry at the end of the novel that they might break the jar and ruin a precious antiquity when they try to destroy the djinn.
The female characters are very generalised in the book and it has a ‘women in refrigerators’ feel to it at times. Anna spends most of the book being sexualised by Harry at the most inconvenient moments and some of the motivations and decisions of the female characters are totally ridiculous and unbelievable.
Otherwise ‘The Djinn’ is a fast-paced and creepy read and the reworking of the ‘Ali Baba And The Forty Thieves’ story was an interesting twist. Even though we only encounter the djinn at the very end of the book, the horror of it has already been built up in our minds layer by layer as Harry learns more about it which added to the suspense. It was refreshing to read a book that takes into account the real dangerous capriciousness of the djinn and not the Disney version.
(pub: Telos, 2013. 127 page small softcover. Price: £ 9.99 (UK), $19.95 (US), $19.95 (CAN), $19.95 (AUS). ISBN: 978-1-84583-052-6)
check out website: www.telos.co.uk