Who does not love the epic and involved history of a huge and now deteriorating mansion? Throw in a plucky curious young girl trying to navigate her life without her mother and with her grief stricken dad and an assorted, diverse group of down on their luck co-residents and a djinn haunting the premises and this story sings! Sana needs this mystery to distract her from the less than optimal conditions of her new home at he South African estate known as Akbar Manzil. (After her dad Bilal tries to reassure her by saying he thinks her mother would have liked this place, Sana muses “She would have hated this place. She would have said it was filthy and falling apart. She would have said he was out of his mind for coming here.”)
Sana finds an old photo of a couple obviously in love and some discarded diaries in the east wing and starts researching the past. She also gets to know her neighbors, the elderly Doctor who runs the place and Razia Bibi- abandoned by her husband and rarely visited by her beloved son, and lonely Fancy who misses her daughter and tries to mediate all the conflicts within the building, Pinky- the staff member who fails hilariously at meeting her responsibilities and talks in the third person, and Zuileikha who has fled her renowned musical career and failed love affairs.
Khan keeps the narrative engaging and interesting, with flashbacks to the past and Sana’s search for answers and closure. The djinn is around to provide important details and while the reader will soon be fairly certain of the fate of the female of the couple, the particulars will be well worth the wait. This book deserves a spot on your TBR!!! It will linger in your thoughts for quite some time!