Genre: Young Adult,Paranormal,Fantasy.
Year Of Publication: 16th June 2017
Publisher: Picador India
Pages: 368 (Paperback)
My rating: 4/5
“High up in the tree was a man,perched with his back against the trunk,his legs crossed on a thin branch.”
Wahid, born of smokeless fire is a half-human half-djinn hybrid. The first of his kind. Until now he’s been oblivious to the fact that he’s different.
But all of that is about to change…
Little does he know that soon his world will be turned upside down.
The people closest to him will die.
He’ll have to struggle to come to terms with his abilities.
His beliefs will be put to the test and he’ll witness things that he’ll wish never to have seen.
When I first found out that there was going to be a book about djinns based in Karachi I literally freaked out! All of my dreams were coming true!
One of the prerequisites of being a desi kid is listening to ghost stories while growing up.And I don’t mean the censored , sugar-coated kind…
Desi relatives feel that it is their duty to make ghost stories as creepy as possible (with all the gory PG details they can manage).
So whenever there is a family gathering you can bet your socks that dinner will be followed by a grizzly recounting of someone’s experience with the paranormal.
(If you want to read more about my first reaction-which I wrote over a year ago click HERE )
Anyways (got a little side-tracked there), “Boy of Fire and Earth” is one such tale filled with sadistic characters set in the melancholy under-belly of Karcahi – where the light has yet to reach and the dark mysterious shadows roam rampant.
With a cast of characters from religious as well as local folk-lore (that need no introduction) and paired with a love story (sort-of), this book was definitely worth the read.
“I’m here. You tried to kill me. But you cannot kill Karachi. I am the city.I’m its spirit, and until it chooses another, or dies itself, I cannot die.”
Now, while I really loved the premise of this book and was absolutely captivated by Sami Shah’s writing there were a few things that were downright ridiculous.
(WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD!)
It really bothered me that there was only one major female character in this book (apart from Wahid’s mother).Maheen had no real role (apart from getting her soul kidnapped by nefarious djinns and helping Wahid find a motive to start his journey on which this book is essentially based).Her character was very two dimensional and honestly I sometimes forgot she even existed in the first place (for me she was a convenient pawn to be used whenever the plot was beginning to get dull).I would’ve loved if she had more of a major role in this book apart from being the pretty side piece.
While I realise that this book is a work of fiction I couldn’t stop myself from laughing hysterically when I read the passage mentioned below…
“The Pakistan government has had a working relationship with djinns for some years now.I am the fourth ambassador to Kaf,which should give you some idea of how long this arrangement has been in place.We do it so that we do not ever need to worry about our enemies using djinns to attack us.It’s paranoid,I know,but this is a world which rewards paranoia.”
Like bruh. Just when I was starting to believe the story you had to put something like this into the chapter *smh.
Honestly,the threat of a nuclear war isn’t enough but now we have to worry about djinns attacking us.
While I get that it’s now cool to have the Devil portrayed as someone with a moral compass I couldn’t wrap my head around it.
You’re telling me that that the being that’s portrayed as “the root of all evil” got scared by a psychopath and couldn’t further read his memories for fear of going mad – not to mention he advises Wahid that they don’t need to tie him up because he’ll probably kill himself when he wakes up…. sure.
I mean obviously that part was enough to make it obvious that there was a bit of double-crossing going on if you know what I mean…
Now there were various parts I enjoyed but some interesting ones were: how Hazrat Sulaiman’s ring was incorporated into the story, I also loved the bits of story-telling that was done between chapters (so satisfying to read!) and finally Hamza’s return as an indestructible zombie-thing!!!
Now to wrap things up I’ll mention my favourite character (because why not?) – Badshah was just such an interesting, well defined character! I mean I could read a book about his story alone!
“Everywhere in Karachi, death screams its name triumphantly.The same name over and over.By murderers and killers,by old people feeling life slip away,and by the sick who cannot struggle against their illnesses any longer.
‘Dajjal!’ they say.
l definitely recommend that you add “Boy of Fire and Earth” to your reading lists this year. The writing makes it worthwhile! If you’re not familiar with most of the terms the book makes it easy enough to understand the goings on (so even if you’re not a desi you can still have fun reading it).
I wouldn’t recommend this book for younger readers because there is a lot of violence,cussing and instances where you might feel nauseous – but other than that it’s an overall interesting read.
I definitely look forward to reading more books by Sami Shah in the future and I want to thank him for bringing more diversity to the fiction genre (can’t have too much of that).
*I was sent this book by Liberty Books in exchange for an honest review.
*If you live in Pakistan you can purchase a copy for yourself HERE.