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The House of Djinn

The House of Djinn

4.0 4
by Suzanne Fisher Staples

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It has been ten years since Shabanu staged her death to secure the safety of her daughter, Mumtaz, from her husband's murderous brother. Mumtaz has been raised by her father's family with the education and security her mother desired for her, but with little understanding and love. Only her American cousin Jameel, her closest confidant and friend, and the beloved


It has been ten years since Shabanu staged her death to secure the safety of her daughter, Mumtaz, from her husband's murderous brother. Mumtaz has been raised by her father's family with the education and security her mother desired for her, but with little understanding and love. Only her American cousin Jameel, her closest confidant and friend, and the beloved family patriarch, Baba, understand the pain of her loneliness. When Baba unexpectedly dies, Jameel's succession as the Amirzai tribal leader and the arrangement of his marriage to Mumtaz are revealed, causing both to question whether fulfilling their duty to the family is worth giving up their dreams for the future.

A commanding sequel to the novels Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind and Haveli, The House of Djinn stands on its own. Suzanne Fisher Staples returns to modern-day Pakistan to reexamine the juxtaposition of traditional Islamic values with modern ideals of love.
The House of Djinn is a 2009 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

As atmospheric and suspenseful as its predecessors, Shabanuand Haveli, this evocative novel transports readers to an intriguing corner of the universe to provide an insightful look at modern Middle Eastern culture. Fortunately, readers need no previous familiarity with the saga of Shabanu, fourth wife of a Pakistani tribal leader's son; they will readily enter Staples's world. As the story opens, Shabanu's husband, Rahim, has been killed by his brother during a land dispute, and Shabanu has gone into hiding, allowing her parents to believe she is dead. Meanwhile, her teenage daughter, Mumtaz, is being raised by an abusive aunt in the family compound. Mumtaz, often treated like a servant, finds a trustworthy friend and confidant in cousin Jameel, who now lives in America but returns with his parents to Pakistan each summer. As Staples investigates the perspectivesof the three main characters, Shabanu, Mumtaz and Jameel, she shows how each feels disjointed from the family but remains bound by ancient traditions. Western and Islamic ways clash, yet the author so thoroughly immerses readers in the setting that few will want to judge. Like most of Staples's fiction, this work significantly enlarges the reader's understanding of a complex society. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
AGERANGE: Ages 12 to 18.

This is Staples’s third novel about Shabanu’s family in the tribal areas of Pakistan, following Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind and Haveli. It is actually more the story of Shabanu’s daughter Mumtaz, who is now 15 years old, and it isn’t necessary to have read the first two books to pick up the story here. Because Mumtaz’s cousin Jameel, who is growing up in San Francisco, is also a main character, and since their families are hastily arranging a marriage between Mumtaz and Jameel, readers in the West will learn a great deal about the cultural divides between the tribal expectations in Pakistan and a skateboarding-loving American teenager. A djinn is a spirit, a ghost, and it is said that such a being inhabits their grandfather’s home. Mumtaz is aware of the djinn, just as she is amazingly sensitive and intelligent about many aspects of her family’s life. There is danger, as the evil uncle plots to kill them, just as he killed Mumtaz’s father ten years before. The streets of Lahore seem wonderfully beautiful and exotic to the Western reader, and Staples knows Pakistan well and can convey the complicated aspects of its traditional culture. This will especially appeal to teenagers with a family connection to South Asia--the photograph on the cover is strikingly attractive. Reviewer: Claire Rosser
March 2008 (Vol. 42, No.2)

Children's Literature - Meredith Kiger
This interesting but often confusing story introduces young adult readers to the Pakistani culture especially as it pertains to women and girls. It centers on Shabanu, a young woman of 30, and her large extended family. Shabanu has been in hiding for 10 years following the murder of her husband by his brother. The brother had threatened to kill Shabanu and her young daughter, Mumtaz, as well. To save her daughter, Shabanu goes into hiding at her sister-in-law's house. Her husband's family takes in her daughter but treats her like a servant. Mumtaz believes that her mother is dead. Shabanu finally decides to come out of hiding and secretly meets with her daughter. Her daughter has mixed emotions about the revelation. The story explores the juxtaposition of American and Pakistani culture, especially among teenagers, as Mumtaz struggles with young love and her cousin, Jameel, who lives in San Francisco, does, too. The author describes all facets of Pakistani life, so different from our own, using their language when possible; however, the overuse of descriptive adjectives often interferes with the rhythm and understanding of the prose. The large extended family is difficult to keep straight, but the differences in culture are worth learning about for young people's understanding of our world. Reviewer: Meredith Kiger, Ph.D.
VOYA - Amy S. Pattee
This sequel to Shabanu (Knopf, 1989/VOYA April 1990) and Haveli (1993/VOYA December 1993) finds the now not-quite-thirty-year-old Shabanu in hiding in her family's Lahore, Pakistan, city estate, where she has lived for ten years, sequestered on a rooftop. The onetime "daughter of the wind" can no longer tolerate hiding from the in-laws who think her dead and dreams of reuniting with her daughter, fifteen-year-old Mumtaz. Mumtaz, known as Muti, lives unhappily with Shabanu's dead husband's family, her education and upbringing assured by Shabanu's brother-in-law. A confluence of events-Shabanu's decision to leave the haveli and make herself known to her daughter, the grave illness of the family patriarch, and Muti and her cousin Jameel's first attempts at independence-lead to family crisis as disparate members of the clan battle for control. Staples's third novel recounts several incidents from the earlier books in the series (it has, after all, been over ten years since the publication of Haveli) but moves quickly toward its climax, the resolution of which might surprise Western readers. As usual, Staples includes rich, descriptive detail throughout the narrative and incorporates details of contemporary Pakistani life in a non-didactic way. The faster pace and shorter length of the third novel is in sharp contrast to the first two books, and although it might draw new readers, fans of Staples's other Shabanu stories might find themselves wanting more from this installment. Reviewer: Amy S. Pattee
Nicole Avery
A continuation of Susan Fisher Staples's tale first told in her book Shabanu, readers are introduced to Mumtaz, Shabanu's daughter, who still does not know that her mother is not really dead. Mumtaz has been living with relatives who treat her poorly, and her only friends are Jameel, her American cousin, and her Baba (grandfather). When Baba passes away, the family is turned upside down. Together, Jameel, successor of Baba as the local tribe leader, and Mumtaz, Jameel's selected wife, must choose between following their Islamic values and pursuing their own modern views of love. The American/ Pakistani identity conflict that Jameel faces and Mumtaz's reunion with her mother are events that teens of varying cultures and backgrounds will be able to identify with. A glossary is provided to help potential readers, eighth- through 10th-grade students, with unfamiliar terms. I would recommend this book for small group instruction to foster textto- text and text-to-world connections and as a great addition to a school and classroom library. Reviewer: Nicole Avery
School Library Journal

Gr 7-10- Splendidly drawn characters caught between ancient Pakistani traditions and modern Western influences mark this strong sequel to Staples's Shabanu (1989) and Haveli (1993, both Knopf). For 10 years, Mumtaz has lived uneasily with her deceased father's extended family, sent there when her mother, Shabanu, staged her own death to protect her daughter from her treacherous Uncle Nazir. Attending a modern school and doted on by her grandfather Baba, a tribal patriarch who embraces Western ways of thinking, Mumtaz treasures the arrival each summer of her skateboarding cousin and best friend Jameel, who lives in California with his parents. At 15, Mumtaz is thrown into emotional disarray when she learns that Shabanu is alive and in hiding nearby. Then Baba's unexpected death prompts Jameel's succession as tribal leader, and the edict that Jameel and Mumtaz are to be married leaves the teens reeling. The richly detailed backdrop of upper-class Pakistani life in Lahore ranges from private country clubs to open-air markets, with exotic touches such as secret messages sent by pigeons. Staples adds a supernatural element via the djinn who appears to Mumtaz and Jameel in the form of Baba, offering posthumous guidance and protection. The author explores the role of educated women in traditional Islamic society, the importance of family and tribe in the Pakistani social structure, and the impact of Western education on emerging leadership through the candid reactions, honest emotions, and complex relationships of multidimensional people. Their story moves along quickly and intensely with elements of intrigue and adventure, holding readers' attention and sympathies.-JoyceAdams Burner, Hillcrest Library, Prairie Village, KS

Kirkus Reviews
In this eloquently written sequel to Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind (1989) and Haveli (1993), Shabanu has been in hiding for ten years, fearing for the life of her daughter, Mumtaz. Everyone, including her parents and daughter, believes Shabanu to be dead, but it's time for her to return from "the realm of the buried" and seek out her daughter. Fifteen-year-old Mumtaz has fallen in love with her Hindu tennis teacher at the Lahore Club; meanwhile, her cousin Jameel lives in California and has given his heart to a beautiful Jewish skateboarder. When the family's patriarch dies, his choice of successor stirs up old jealousies and renewed violence, causing the lives of Shabanu, Mumtaz and Jameel to converge. Staples skillfully draws readers into the complicated web of relationships in the fictional Amirzai family in this fascinating tale of the conflict between tribal tradition and modernization in contemporary Pakistan. Though this can stand on its own, familiarity with its predecessors adds depth and richness to an important saga. (author's note, glossary) (Fiction. 11+)

Product Details

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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211 KB
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

From The House of Djinn

Selma led her to the doorway of the beautiful hand-carved marble summer pavilion that stood in the center of the courtyard, and ducked through the entry first. Mumtaz followed, and again her eyes had to adjust. A small figure stood in the middle of the spacious pavilion lit by the sun filtered through the intricate latticework of the screens that formed the walls. Mumtaz took two steps forward.

“My Mumtaz,” said Shabanu and held her arms open. Mumtaz turned her head toward Selma, not quite believing her eyes and ears.

“Is it my mother?” she asked Selma, who nodded, her face opening in an encouraging smile. Mumtaz looked back toward her mother in disbelief, unable to move. For a moment she just stared.

“I’ve waited so long to see you,” said Shabanu, moving toward her daughter. “I couldn’t tell you I was here, and all the while I was living just to see you again.” Mumtaz couldn’t find her voice and her feet felt planted in the stone floor. Shabanu approached her slowly and put her arms around Mumtaz. “I’ve dreamed of holding you every minute since the last time,” Shabanu said.

“I don’t understand!” Mumtaz said, unaware that tears streamed down her face. She stood rigidly and Shabanu continued to hold her. “You’ve been here all this time?” Mumtaz asked. “And you let me believe you were dead?”

Meet the Author

SUZANNE FISHER STAPLES, a former UPI correspondent, is the author of many acclaimed books for young readers, including the Newbery Honor Book Shabanu; Shiva's Fire, a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year; and Under the Persimmon Tree, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults and an ALA Notable Book. She lives in Nicholson, Pennsylvania.

Suzanne Fisher Staples

It’s been many years since I left my newspaper job for the somewhat less predictable world of writing books. Still, most mornings I wake up and thank my lucky stars that I no longer have to pull on pantyhose, only to fight traffic on the way to the bureau; that I can walk the dog in the orange grove after lunch and finish the newspaper; that I spend my days making up stories and talking with children, not dealing with irascible news editors, slippery politicians, and oily flacks.
I grew up loving books. My grandmother read to us every day and bribed us with stories to help in her rock garden. There, among the bleeding hearts and irises and peonies, I decided I wanted to be a writer. I’ve always written: journals, letters, school papers, essays, and, when I grew up, news reports.

But I could never imagine writing a novel. Whatever could I write about that would sustain anyone’s interest for two hundred or more pages?

The answer never occurred to me until I went to Pakistan. There was something about the camels, the ancient stories and blue-tiled mosques, and people who build shrines where a beautiful poem was written, that set my heart to singing. And there was something about our ignorance here in the West about Islamic people that made me know a story about this place needed to be told. And so my writing career began with Shabanu and Haveli.

After I left Pakistan, I wondered whether I would ever find anything that fired my soul as the people of the Cholistan Desert had. I returned to America somewhat apprehensive. It’s easy to be sparked by the exotic places of the world. But what about finding inspiration in the familiar?

And then I settled in a small and beautiful corner of Virginia’s Eastern Shore. There on the Chesapeake Bay, the mud and the pines and the grasses and the water and all the things that live in and among them spoke to me like characters in a book. I began to see the exotic everywhere.

While I was living in Asia, I thought of the United States as a place where the phones and the political system work, and people are tolerant of each other. When I came home I found that some things here were worse than all the poverty and sickness and intolerance I’d encountered in Asia. I met two children who lived on the farm next to our property on the Eastern Shore, one black, one white. Their friendship was based on fishing and swimming and exploring the woods and the creeks. As they approached adolescence, their families began to steer them away from each other. From then on, their stories fell into two distinct patterns. The white boy went to a private school. The black boy was later killed during a dispute over drugs. For all the beauty of the Eastern Shore, racism was one of its healthiest institutions. People were so familiar with it they couldn’t see how heartbreaking it was. And that was the genesis of Dangerous Skies.

My husband, Wayne, and I live in the hills of Tennessee, where we love to hike and canoe and watch the eagles soar over valleys that are shrouded in pale blue mist. I know now that the world is wondrous and wide, and I hope I will never cease to be moved by places and people who give rise to ideas for stories. Because stories are the most important thing in the world. They teach us how to live, how to love, and, most important, how to find magic wherever we are.

Suzanne Fisher Staples was born in 1945 and grew up beside a lake in the hilly farmland near Scranton, Pennsylvania. She worked as a news reporter in Asia for twelve years, serving in Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka with United Press International. She also worked in Washington, D.C., as an editor at The Washington Post.

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The House of Djinn 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book follows off from the books shabanu and haveli, but if you have read the books, you may be disappointed in finding that this book's main character is no longer shabanu, but her daughter mumtaz. it captures the readers attention well, and i recomend it completely. If you haven't read shabanu or haveli, i would also recomend reading those first. it was a great book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
seriously can't wait for it to come out!!! i love Haveli and i couldn't stand the total cliffhanger. i want to read it sooooo bad