The Djinn Waits a Hundred Years
by Shubnum Khan
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Pub Date 09 Jan 2024 | Archive Date 12 Jan 2024
PENGUIN GROUP Viking, Viking
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.
"Haunting and healing, The Djinn Waits a Hundred Years, with its shades of The House of Spirits and Rebecca, is one of the best books I've read this year…Khan's gorgeous writing lays bare what it means to love, grieve, haunt and, ultimately, let go." –Sarah Addison Allen, New York Times bestselling author of Other Birds and Garden Spells
“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.” – Yangsze Choo, New York Times bestselling author of The Night Tiger
"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." – Alix E. Harrow, New York Times bestselling author of The Starling House
"The Djinn Waits A Hundred Years is a cinematic spectacular, rife with doomed love and vengeful spirits and a lurking violence always waiting to pounce. Shubnum Khan has written a gorgeous gothic mystery, a fascinating meditation on the nature of forgiveness and time."
– Julia Fine, author of Maddalena and the Dark
"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 (“As the new smells climb excitedly into the eaves... older smells, annoyed, move higher up away”). This holds its own in a crowded field of neo-gothic fiction." – Publishers Weekly
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Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 79 members
Another unexpected, unanticipated novel knocks me off my feet and crashes into my top books of 2023.
The Djinn Waits a Hundred Years, the wonderfully-titled novel from South African writer Shubnum Khan, is perfect for fans of the gothic, with a hint of the supernatural. Jumping between 2014, and one hundred years earlier, we follow the inhabitants of Akbar Manzil, an estate off the coast of South Africa to rival du Maurier's Manderley.
In the 2014 narrative, we meet teenager Sana and her father, who have moved into the now-failing Akbar Manzil, joining a variety of interesting characters. As Sana explores the grand house, the dark history of the place unravels, involving an unconventional marriage, an overbearing matriarch, and a pet lion. And let’s not forget about the titular djinn, who observes all of this from the estate’s many darkened corners.
I loved this book so much. The modern misfits who welcome young Sana, the devastating history which slowly unravels, the beautiful writing; it all combined to make a truly engrossing and captivating story. The character of the djinn, as an omnipresent narrator, really helped to draw the reader into the story. The personification of the house was a wonderful touch as well.
A truly special novel, which everyone fan of historical or gothic fiction should read. Highly recommended.