I sigh. Aroofa would be better and quicker with the hammer, but looking at the cuts and scrapes along her fingers, I know why she yielded the tool to her little sister. With so numerous people in the commerce, there’s not enough equipment for everyone. You get here early and swipe a hammer or shovel, or settle for one of God’s greatest gifts: your hands.
Not able to attend school due to supporting her family, Nura spends her days in the mica mines, determined to locate the Demon’s Tongue, a legendary treasure which would make her and her family rich. After a harrowing accident in the mines, Nura tries to rescue her friend but digs too far and ends up in the magical world of the jinn. Will Nura be able to rescue Faisal or will the cunning jinn live up to their reputation and trap her forever?
Nura and the Immortal Palace has been on my to-read pile for a while and I’m kicking myself that it’s taken me so long to read it – it is a magical, rich adventure which is a feast for your imagination. When a desperate Nura tries to save Faisal and the other children after a mine collapse, she ends up in another world and the descriptions are beautifully vivid. One of my favourite films is What Dreams May Come (starring the late, fantastic Robin Williams) and that colourful, bright world reminded me of this story. The world of the jinn sounds incredible but, as Nura learns, deception and trickery lurk in every corner so there is a level of suspense for the reader, wondering if and how Nura can return to her world. Back to a world where she is supporting her mum and her family to meet ends meet.
I really liked the message here around education and its importance as well as raising awareness of child labour. The fact there’s an estimated 160m child victims to child labour worldwide is staggering and definitely avoidable. It’s a clever move combining these important themes with fantasy, not to mention explaining to children about some Muslim customs. I thoroughly enjoyed Nura and the Immortal Palace and believe this will be an exciting summer read.
Suggested reading age: 9+
Nura and the Immortal Palace is written by M.T. Khan and will be published by Walker Books on 7th July 2022. Preorder your copy here.