Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Jinn and Juice by Nicole Peeler

Be warned: you won’t look at cantaloupes the same way after reading this book!

Jinn and Juice begins an urban fantasy series about a jinn, set in Pittsburgh.  Lyla is a human cursed to be a jinn for 1000 years, and she can be free of the curse if she is not Bound to a master at the curse’s end, or she faces the worst renewal clause.  She currently works at a nightclub as a belly dancer that caters to paranormal beings.  Her curse is almost up when Oz, a newbie magi, Binds her to help him find a missing friend.

This is a fun read with the urban fantasy staples of snappy dialogue and pop culture puns. A jinn as the protagonist is a cool premise.  Plus, she is a human-turned-jinn, and add to that a nice guy master and some interesting culture clashes involving jinn and magi.  The culture clash is especially fascinating to see between jinn and magi, modern sentiments against traditional.  Oz is a likeable character with a genuine interest in Lyla’s world, and he has plenty of comic moments when he learns firsthand about her world and being a magi.  With the relationship between magi and jinn, the master orders the jinn, but the jinn can find ways to misinterpret the orders in carrying them out. It goes back to the adage of the genie in a bottle granting wishes and being careful what you wish for.

The characters add to the fun and drive the story.  It is not just about one hero on which everything hinges or two leads with a possible romance.  Lyla’s friends come from a variety of paranormal backgrounds and make a diverse supporting cast, including a half troll, gay oracle, drag queen psychic, kitsune, and will o’ the wisp. Her friends are outspoken, sometimes for comic relief, but they ground Lyla and her story.  They get pretty honest and crude, such as the cantaloupe references.  Her friends help establish Pittsburgh as a magnet for paranormal creatures. Pittsburgh is an unusual setting, and Peeler ties it to Nodes, lei lines, alternate planes (Sideways), and their corruption by the prevalence of steel in a modernized city.

Look for Jinn and Juice in the VBPL Catalog.  For more Nicole Peeler, try her Jane True series.  Read Helene Wecker’s The Golem and the Jinni for historical fantasy with jinn, Seanan McGuire’s InCryptid series for more urban fantasy with unusual creatures, and N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance trilogy for more be-careful-what-you-wish-for wrangling with enslaved magical beings (see review).

Review by Tracy V

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