The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn by Usman Malik
Published by: Tor.com on April 22, 2015
Rating: 4 stars (★★★★☆)
As a child, Sal was always fascinated by the stories his grandfather would tell of his life in Pakistan. And the story he loved more than any other was the one of the Mughal princess. Her family’s protector was a jinn who lived in a eucalyptus tree. And even though few people believed her, Sal’s grandfather wasn’t a big skeptic. And though Sal’s grandfather never said it, Sal always felt there was something more to the story.
When Sal’s grandfather dies, he feels compelled to go check out the source of the stories. Even his girlfriend, Sarah, can see that he seems distracted. Perhaps if he goes to Lahore, he can put the fantastic stories to rest. But instinct is a powerful force, and there may just be more waiting for Sal than he expected.
This is a novella, and I often find reviewing short fiction to be difficult. One of the biggest reasons is that it’s hard to give a synopsis without giving too much away. And because I tend to review based on my reaction, it’s harder to keep from spoiling key parts of the story.
What I did like about this particular story is the way it’s framed. There are so many themes that one can see here: family, travel, exploring your past, fantasy, etc. But it’s woven together in a seamless way. I feel like this is one of those that is likely to mean something a bit different to each reader. And those are some of the best stories to read and share.