Tor.com content by

Mahvesh Murad

Of Djinns & Things: The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

A young hustler on the streets of 18th Century Cairo, Nahri lives by her wits and has always done so alone, using certain special abilities that help her get by. She can, most of the time, tell if someone is sick, or what ails them. She has “yet to come upon a language she didn’t immediately understand,” can sometimes help those who are unwell, and seems to be able to heal quickly herself. Nahri uses her strange abilities to take what she can from whom she can, trying to build up a little store of cash so she may one day train to be a real healer.

But one ordinary day, what should be a run of the mill fake exorcism ends up going horribly wrong when the young girl Nahri is pretending to help turns out to be actually possessed by a djinn—an ifrit who recognises something special in Nahri.

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The Gods of War: Tool of War by Paolo Bacigalupi

Paolo Bacigalupi’s Tool of War, the third book in the Ship Breaker trilogy, following Ship Breaker and The Drowned Cities, follows the augmented soldier Tool in his attempt to find and fight his creators. Tool’s journey has been a violent, angry one, and in this final book, we meet him as he is leading an army of child soldiers win the war in the semi-submerged cities along the Atlantic coast. Tool’s new pack have been helping him take control of the area, crushing the other warlords with just as much violence as they’ve inflicted over the years. Tool is suddenly faced with something he’s never known—relative peace, and a need for his leadership in rebuilding the drowned cities.

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Is It Any Wonder: Neil Jordan’s Carnivalesque

Neil Jordan’s Carnivalesque gets straight to the point: 14-year-old Andy goes to the carnival with his parents. They haven’t really been getting along, things can be stressful but everything is about average in their lives—they don’t seem to be particularly special and at this point, neither does Andy. In the Hall of Mirrors, though, something strange happens—the mirrors seem to be portals of sorts, and Andy is sucked in through them, and trapped. No one knows he’s missing, because a doppelgänger of him walks away from the mirror, joins his parents, and goes off home, leaving Andy behind in this strange new world.

Andy remains stuck inside the mirror until one of the carnival’s aerialists, Mona, somehow pulls him out, names him Dany, and fairly seamlessly absorbs him into her carny family. Mona looks like a teenager, but of course in the carnival, nothing is quite what it seems, and it isn’t long before Andy starts to work this out, as he realises that the rope he has been given to hold Mona safe is instead tethering her to the ground while she flies across the trapeze. Andy learns more about the origins of the carnival, about the strange “mildew” that grows on the rusty metal of the equipment and how it has a special purpose. Mona and the other carnies are ancient, magical beings, the last of a dying race who still have one terrible enemy to contend with. Andy, it seems, is much more than an average boy trapped in a mirror—he may be more special than he knows. While the changeling Andy isn’t quite right, the “real” Andy (who is now Dany) does not remain the same ordinary boy either. For all his star-struck wonder at the marvels of the carnival, it becomes evident to the carnies and to him that his being at the carnival was nothing random.

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The Jinn Are Everywhere (Including In These 6 Books)

Jinn are everywhere. Every culture has them; they lurk in every literary tradition.

On one hand, it makes collecting a list of “jinn” reading an impossible challenge—there’s simply no way to represent all the ways in which the jinn appear. It is the sort of task that, in a classic story, the feisty protagonist would trick a jinn into solving instead.

On the other hand, the size of the task is so impossible that we needn’t even attempt it. Wherever you are, whatever you read—rest assured that there’s a jinn for you.

So rather than trying to cover the vast range of jinn in books, we’ve selected a few of our very favourites—fiction and non-fiction, old and new, fantastical and literary.

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The Trouble With Being Queen: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Marisa Meyer is known for her Young Adult fairy tale retellings. Her first novel was the NaNoWriMo phenomenon Cinder, the story of a cyborg sort-of Cinderella and the start of the Lunar Chronicles sequence, which includes new versions of Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White. Meyer’s work, however, is very loosely based on the fairy tales—she develops new worlds, brings in new characters and does not use the classic familiar plot lines. With Heartless, her first stand alone novel, Meyer takes us back to when the violent, furious Queen of Hearts was a warm, sweet young girl who wanted something more—albeit smaller, simpler and full of sugar and butter—than what was on offer for her.

Catherine is just another young well to do girl with hopes and dreams. Society demands that her hopes and dreams be specifically about getting married to the wealthiest man she can, but she has other ideas. Even though it seems that the most eligible bachelor in the kingdom is rather interested in her, Catherine would rather be baking professionally. She and her best friend and lady’s maid have grand plans of running a bakery in town, though they have yet to work out just how they will manage this financially and remain socially acceptable—this is the Kingdom of Hearts, where societal norms are Victorian, where magic is part of the every day, where Catherine’s most vivid dreams lead to great trees of fruits and roses growing in her room, and where the King would very much like her to be the Queen of Hearts, and give up this silly nonsense of selling cakes for ever.

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Midnight in Karachi Episode 69: Sami Shah’s “Fire Boy Interlude C”

Welcome back to Midnight in Karachi, a weekly podcast about writers, publishers, editors, illustrators, their books and the worlds they create, hosted by Mahvesh Murad.

This week’s episode is a reading of a story from the world of Fire Boy—an urban fantasy set in contemporary Karachi, and writer and comedian Sami Shah’s first novel. Sami’s memoir I, Migrant, was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Award and the Russell Prize for Humour Writing. You can find more of his writing here.

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Series: Midnight in Karachi Podcast

Midnight in Karachi Episode 68: Naomi Alderman

Welcome back to Midnight in Karachi, a weekly podcast about writers, publishers, editors, illustrators, their books and the worlds they create, hosted by Mahvesh Murad.

Zombies Run! co-creator and one of Granta’s Best of British Novelists Naomi Alderman is on the podcast this week to talk about her new novel The Power, in which women develop the ability to electrocute at will. She talks about Sultana’s Dream, whether violence is gendered, writing both games and ‘literary’ fiction, Bob Dylan and the Nobel, and that permanent question—The Patriarchy: why?

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Series: Midnight in Karachi Podcast

Midnight in Karachi Episode 67: Fran Wilde

Welcome back to Midnight in Karachi, a weekly podcast about writers, publishers, editors, illustrators, their books and the worlds they create, hosted by Mahvesh Murad.

Andre Norton award winner and Nebula Award nominee Fran Wilde joins the podcast this week to talk about her Bone Universe novels, Updraft and Cloudbound. Both are available now from Tor Books—you can read excerpts from each novel here.

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Series: Midnight in Karachi Podcast

Sam Spade Vs Cthulhu: Hammers on Bone by Cassandra Khaw

What does it take to hunt demons and monsters gone mad? A bigger monster, of course.

John Persons is a private investigator in modern day London. In the way of the best PIs in noir fiction, he’s caustic, bitter and jaded. But even he’s surprised when eleven year old Abel walks into his office with a loaded piggy bank and asks Persons to kill his stepfather, ‘because he’s a monster’. Though Persons a PI, not an assassin for hire, Abel is certain he’s the only man for the job, ‘because you’re a monster too’. What does Abel know about Persons that we don’t? A lot, it seems, because Persons isn’t an ordinary man, he’s something else, something older and much more frightening than man.

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Midnight in Karachi Episode 66: Genevieve Valentine

Welcome back to Midnight in Karachi, a weekly podcast about writers, publishers, editors, illustrators, their books and the worlds they create, hosted by Mahvesh Murad.

Genevieve Valentine—writer of Catwoman, Xena, The Girls At the Kingfisher Club, Persona, and Icon—is on the podcast this week, talking about constructed relationships, killing off characters, weaponised young women, Taylor Swift, and whether red carpet fashion is fantasy or not.

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Series: Midnight in Karachi Podcast

Sing Your Own Special Song: Aerie by Maria Dahvana Headley

Aerie picks up a year after Magonia. Aza Ray is alive, though hiding in the body of someone new, pretending to be someone else. She’s been to Magonia and back – she knows now who she is, and what she’s meant to be doing. But she’s run away from it. Maria Dahvana Headley’s follow up to Magonia is another wild ride into a fantastical alternate word in the sky, one full of adventure, intrigue, darkness and beauty.

(Minor spoilers follow and can’t be helped, since this is a direct sequel.)

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Midnight in Karachi Episode 65: Marie Brennan

Welcome back to Midnight in Karachi, a weekly podcast about writers, publishers, editors, illustrators, their books and the worlds they create, hosted by Mahvesh Murad.

Author Marie Brennan is on the podcast this week, talking about dragons, amnesiacs and her new epic fantasy novella, Cold-Forged Flame. Available now from Tor.com Publishing, you can read an excerpt here.

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Series: Midnight in Karachi Podcast

Midnight in Karachi Episode 64: Nisi Shawl

Welcome back to Midnight in Karachi, a weekly podcast about writers, publishers, editors, illustrators, their books and the worlds they create, hosted by Mahvesh Murad.

This week, Mahvesh talks with writer Nisi Shawl about the Samuel Delany tribute anthology Stories for Chip, and her new alternate history novel Everfair—available now from Tor Books, you can read an excerpt here. Their discussion touches on the writers Nisi admires, and the things steampunk has the potential to be.

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Series: Midnight in Karachi Podcast

Midnight in Karachi Episode 63: Laure Eve

Welcome back to Midnight in Karachi, a weekly podcast about writers, publishers, editors, illustrators, their books and the worlds they create, hosted by Mahvesh Murad.

Writer Laure Eve joins Mahvesh this week to talk about The Graces—available now from Amulet Books. In discussing the novel, the Laure and Mahvesh touch upon power plays between female characters, The Craft, and the ’90s.

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Series: Midnight in Karachi Podcast