Book review | Undying: The Kinship of Djinns by Ambreen Hameed and Uzma Hameed
Author: Uzma Hameed and Ambreen Hameed
Genre: Contemporary fiction
No. of pages: 331
Published by: Fired Umber Books
Published on: 21st December 2020
My rating: ★★★★★
It is 1998 and the leader of the free world is under fire after an affair with a young intern. Meanwhile, in a corner of South London, the Malik sisters have also committed a sin: they are in their thirties and still not married. Now the unexpected return of their childhood playmate spells the chance of a happy ending: but only for one of them. And this time, younger sister Zarina is determined she won't be second in line to Sufya, the eldest - even if it means resorting to dubious occult practices. But as tensions rise across the Muslim world, sibling rivalry and Sufi spells are not the only forces with which the three lovers must contend.
What starts out with two unmarried British-Muslim sisters in the 1998s pining over the same man who they grew up with, turns out to be a full-fledged social commentary on the atrocities on Muslims around the globe, a dig on evolutionary biology, dangerous Sufi spells and Djinns, and the world of theatre.
Both Sufya and Zarina each think that the celebrated filmmaker Heathrow is meant to be with them. But Heathrow leaves the two sisters to make a documentary on Israel's oppression on Palestine and remains out of reach for 13 long years, only to come back to face a matchmaking between him and Sufya, arranged by their helpless parents, Zarina is washed over with hopelessness. As a last respite, Zarina who has always had to be the second choice for everything being the second child herself, takes to an ancient sufi spell that can make your lover stay with you forever. Unfortunately, what Zarina unleashes is something very dark and dangerous that threatens to uproot their lives.
This book has easily earned a spot in my heart for being so honest and raw. It camouflages into a whole lot of genres. There are some satirical moments in the book where the two sisters have to deal with extremist ideologies and family drama, but there are also super intense moments where Zarina and Sufya deal with their past and their feelings.
What I loved the most about this book is how detailed it was. The authors beautifully craft the sisters' past. With Zarina being a theatre director and Sufya being a research biologist, the authors gives a humongous importance to both their occupation. And Heathrow being a filmmaker and the sisters' childhood friend, the authors do utmost justice to play out the influence the sisters have on Heathrow and his filmmaking and vice versa.
A lot of events regarding to racism and islamophobia take place in the book— each event panning out to give you a larger picture about the Muslim world. The events also take inspiration from real historical events, so this piece of fiction is not far away from reality.
The book is written from both Zarina and Sufya's POV— their conflicted feelings and sibling rivalry stretched out in details. The writing style is very in depth. With the right amount of dialogues, inner monologues and a descriptive style of writing, the book enraptures you. There are snippets about mating and evolutionary biology that seem to be from Sufya's notes, that seem to line up with her agony to receive Heathrow's love, and honestly they were the best bits in the book.
This book has become a recent favourite of mine it made me feel things and it ends with a cliffhanger. So while I read the next book, y'all check this book out.
I received a copy of the book in exchange of an honest and unbiased review.