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Nura and the Immortal Palace by M.T. Khan

Title: Nura and the Immortal Palace

A young girl stands in a blue and purple cave staring at a purple sky and pink sea. There is a full moon above a colourful palace with boats in the sea. Gold text reads Nura and the Immortal Palace by M.T. Khan

Author: M.T. Khan

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Walker Books

Published: 6th July 2022

Format: Paperback

Pages: 272

Price: $18.99

Synopsis: A magical adventure rooted in Muslim culture and tradition, Nura and the Immortal Palace follows a young girl’s journey from modern-day Pakistan into the world of the jinn.

Nura has worked all her life in the mica mines, earning just enough to keep her family afloat – and enjoy the odd delicious gulab jamun from the market. Some day she’s going to find the Demon’s Tongue, a legendary treasure buried deep in the mines, and her family will never have to worry about money again.

But when a terrible accident buries her best friend below ground, Nura goes in search of him and passes over into the magical and terrible world of the jinn. Across a pink sea and under a purple sky, she finds her way to a palace, where great riches and a whole new life are on offer.

But it’s not long before Nura discovers this world to be as unfair as the real one, and that trickster jinns will always live up to their reputation…

~*~

For Nura and many of the children of Meerabagh, their lives are spent mining mica, scraping together money that barely allows them to survive. But one day, a cave in at the mine traps Nura’s best friend and other children underground. So she starts digging, hoping to find her friend Faisal. When she digs, Nura falls into a magical world – the terrible world – of the jinn, surrounded by pink sea and purple sky. She’s whisked off to the Immortal Palace – the Sijj palace where she meets the Painted Boy and her qeera – kind of like a jinn-doppelgänger was my understanding. Nura enters a world of servitude after she’s tricked into a world of servitude in the bowels of the Sijj Palace with lots of other human and jinn children who have been tricked into eternal servitude. It’s up to Nura and Faisal to save everyone trapped by the Painted Boy’s deceit.

Enter a world that is full of magic and diversity, a world where you can learn about jinn, about Eid, about mica mining and why children in Pakistan take the mica mining jobs on, even when its illegal and in a world where child labour should be illegal. M.T. Khan’s book examines the gulf between the rich and the poor, and the ways privilege works to serve an upper class (in many societies), and the role that education plays in changing your life. What I found effective in this book was the way the magical world mirrored Nura and Faisal’s real world and sharpened the differences they saw between their lives and the lives of the richer people they and their families worked for. It showed that inequality is everywhere and working together is how we can change things for everyone.

Everything in this novel is carefully chosen and planned, and evokes many emotions – wonder, fear, a desire to revolt against an oppressor. It shows that you can stand up against a bully and find allies in the most unlikely of places. Nura and Faisal’s story of friendship and loyalty will be something that may readers will be able to relate to. It’s the kind of friendship we all want to have, where we do anything for the other person. It is a wonderful story that has a bit of everything, and even though there are times when it feels like there is no hope, everything will work out – it has to, right? We can hope it does, and I loved learning more about jinns and Eid – I think books like this can be entertaining and informative, and open readers up to new worlds, new experiences and a diverse range of characters that bring this world to life – the world of the jinn and Pakistan. It gave me an idea of what Pakistan and the Muslim life is like and it opened my eyes to the beauty of it but also to the reality of those who live in poverty and the stark class divide. It was at times wondrous and sobering. A reminder that along with the beauty, there is also a harsh reality that some people live a very different kind of life and existence to many other people.

It was a book that I lost myself in as I explored the Immortal Palace with Nura, and a world that I hoped Nura and Faisal could escape, find their way home, and find a way to change their lives. I wanted them to succeed. I fell in love with so many aspects of this book for so many different reasons. It’s powerful, evocative, and gives brilliant representation for Pakistan. I loved that it had a resolution that made sense for the characters and gives readers hope for the future of the characters as well. It is sure to find readers all around the world, and I hope they all get as much out of it as I did.

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