Rebecca and The House of Spirits meets Fatima Farheen Mirza in this sweeping, gorgeously atmospheric novel about a ruined mansion by the sea, the djinn that haunts it, and a curious girl who unearths the tragedy that happened there a hundred years previous
Akbar Manzil was once a grand estate off the coast of South Africa. Now, nearly a century since it was built, it stands in ruins: an isolated boardinghouse for misfits, seeking to forget their pasts and disappear into the mansions dark corridors.
Until Sana. She and her father are the latest of Akbar Manzil’s long list of tenants, seeking a new home after suffering painful loss. Unlike the others, who choose not to look too closely at the mansion’s unsettling qualities—the strange assortment of bones in the overgrown garden, the mysterious figure seen to move sometimes at night—she is curious and questioning and finds herself irresistibly drawn to the history of the mansion. To the eerie and forgotten East Wing, home to a clutter of broken and abandoned objects—and to the locked door at its end, unopened for decades.
Behind the door is a bedroom frozen in time, with faded photographs of a couple in love and a worn diary that whispers of a dark past: the long-forgotten story of a young woman named Meena, the original owner’s second wife, who died there tragically a hundred years ago. Watching Sana from the room’s shadows is a grieving djinn, an invisible spirit who once loved Meena and has haunted the mansion since her mysterious death. Obsessed with Meena’s story, and unaware of the creature that follows her, Sana digs into the past like fingers into a wound, awakening the memories of the house itself—and dredging up old and terrible secrets that will change the lives of everyone living and dead at Akbar Manzil.
Sublime, heart-wrenching, and lyrically stunning, The Djinn Waits a Hundred Years is a haunting, a love story, and a mystery, all twined beautifully into one young girl’s search for belonging.
About the Author
Shubnum Khan is a South African author and artist. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, McSweeney’s, HuffPost, O, the Oprah Magazine, The Sunday Times (London), Marie Claire, and others. Her first novel, Onion Tears (2011) was shortlisted for the Penguin Prize for African Writing and the University of Johannesburg Debut Fiction Prize. Her essay collection, How I Accidentally Became a Stock Photo was published in South Africa and India with Pan Macmillan in 2021. The Djinn Waits a Hundred Years is her debut novel in the U.S.
"Haunting and healing, The Djinn Waits a Hundred Years, with its shades of The House of Spirits and Rebecca, is one of the best books I've read this year…Khan's gorgeous writing lays bare what it means to love, grieve, haunt and, ultimately, let go." –Sarah Addison Allen, New York Times bestselling author of Other Birds and Garden Spells
“Filled with wonder and colour, the secrets of the dilapidated mansion Akbar Manzil come to life in this rich tale of loss and love. The arrival of 15 year old Sana, who is herself haunted, is the catalyst that revives long-forgotten memories, as well as the spirit that still lingers in the empty rooms. I was enthralled and completely swept away by Khan's masterful unspooling of family secrets, fatal jealousy, and a love that endures after death.” – Yangsze Choo, New York Times bestselling author of The Night Tiger
"The Djinn Waits a Hundred Years is a dark and heady dream of a book, which reveals itself in layers as a gothic horror, a tragic romance, and a classic coming-of-age tale. Hauntingly gorgeous." – Alix E. Harrow, New York Times bestselling author of The Starling House