Author: Usman T. Malik
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