Review: The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn by Usman T. Malik

Author: Usman T. Malik

Published: 4/22/2015

Rating: 3 STARS

Fantasy | 32 pages | Published by Tor

Despite being only 32 pages long, The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn manages to enchant with a touching tale of a grandfather and grandson who grow closer together through the power of storytelling and fantastical family secrets.

The story follows a young Pakistani professor, Salman, who as a boy was fascinated by the tales his grandfather (affectionately called Gramps) told him during his childhood. In particular, the story of a pauper princess and a Jinn who lived near a large eucalyptus tree in Lahore, Pakistan captured his imagination. After his Gramps’ death, however, Salman discovered that all those tales may have been more than fables and that his grandfather’s life was much more complex and interesting than he had ever imagined.

I must admit that even though I found the story to be well-written and its incorporation of Islamic mythology and folklore to be fascinating, the overall reading experience wasn’t as fun as I expected. The story actually seems to run longer than its 32 pages would lead one to expect, yet I found it difficult to connect with the protagonist for intangible reasons I can’t describe. 

The story does open promisingly with the spellbinding tales of Gramps’ childhood but ends on a predictable note. However, there’s plenty to like. Specifically, I enjoyed reading about Muslim characters in magical and mystical tales. This is where I want Fantasy to be heading — towards a more inclusive and diverse future. Overall, I left the story with the satisfied feeling of time well-spent. I must recommend this enchanting little novella because it only costs $0.99, can be read in one sitting, and explores interesting mythology that’s unfamiliar to western audiences.

As I’ve said many times before in previous posts, I am a proud and passionate fan of science fiction and fantasy. So I see it as my duty to read, discuss, and promote the stories in the genre written by people of color.

Expect reviews for the five works by people of color that were nominated for this year’s Nebula Awards to be up before the winners are announced on May 12-15 of 2016.

Please check out my reviews for two of the Nebula Award Nominees if you haven’t already:

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older

14 thoughts on “Review: The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn by Usman T. Malik

    1. That would be wonderful, yes!
      Do you have any personal experiences with Jinns?
      I love the mystical and the supernatural and even though I’m not a believer, I admit the world would be much more interesting if they were real.

      1. I have, and it was one experience I will not be forgetting anytime soon. There is supposedly a jinn assigned to each person. They communicate with one another, and some humans are able to connect to their assigned jinn. That is how fortunes are told and we are scammed for money. Teehee! They have a world of their own though they do live among us,and apparent ghostly sightings are them being made visible to people who are sensitive to such things on some level. Bah! you should read on it. Its terribly interesting, also equally scary.

  1. As Cinderzenablogs implied in her previous comment, Jinns are very much real in Islam. Makes this read infinitely more interesting, doesn’t it? 😉

    I’d love to see how Usman’s interpretation of Jinns compares to the Westernized genies that seem to populate YA fiction a LOT lately.

    Brilliantly reviewed, Naz! 🙂

    1. I apologize if my comments were insensitive. I have much to learn and am always willing to.

      The fantasy elements of this novella seemed very realistic and subtle, actually. I don’t know much about the history of Jinns in Islam, but I felt he provided a very positive and honest portrayal of them.

      1. Ah not at all, Naz! 🙂 It’s a little known fact and in general, there’s every little awareness surrounding the subject. Like Cinderzena stated, the subject definitely makes for an interesting read except it can soon feel very similar to when you are lost in an blackhole of reddit threads, haha!

      1. Zena, I agree and think genies are essentially an anglicized version of Jinns/Djinni. Also on a side note: Did you know that Aladdin is originally Chinese?! Stumbled across this when I was trying to figure out the origins of genies in Lit. Haha, the things you learn!

  2. Oooh this sounds promising! I love Tor novellas, I fell so hard for Binti last year. Shadowshaper was also amazing, I wouldn’t be able to decide on one 😊 I need to give this one to my dad, maybe it’ll remind him of home and family storytelling.
    Can’t remember the title right now, but I’m also always looking for diverse fantasy and I found an anthology or compendium of fantasy short stories around Muslim mythology!

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