Book Talk

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”

~ Stephen King

As soon as I learned to read, I was hooked. I became a confirmed bookworm.

My kid brother loves this story from our childhood. When we were young, the two of us would often walk to our small-town library on Saturdays. Every week I would check out as many books as were allowed, much to my brother’s chagrin — he had to help me cart them home! As we trudged along with our (mostly my) books, I inevitably would succumb to the call of the pages. I would plop down on the curb and delve right in! I would read until my brother demanded in frustration that we continue on home. You could say that I LOVED reading!

I still love reading, and I always have a book with me. But these days, I never sit on the curb to read!

Alif, the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson, captured my imagination. I could have sat on the curb to finish reading this book. Check out my review below — maybe you’ll be tempted to try it.

Alif, the Unseen — A Review

In her fabulous debut novel, G. Willow Wilson weaves a magical story blending elements from mystical middle Eastern folk tales from the Islamic Golden Age with the 21st-century cyberworld of hackers and bots.

Alif, the Unseen is a wild, exciting, and sometimes terrifying tale that takes place in a fictional Arab Emirate that sits at the juncture between our earthly world and the supernatural domain of the Djinn.

After an ill-fated romance, Alif — a brilliant hacker — is relentlessly hunted by a government internet censor known as the Hand of God. Alif is joined in his fight against the Hand by members of the “Empty Quarter”, the demonic realm of mysterious creatures, ghosts and spirit beings. Included in his army are his devout neighbour, Dina; an elderly Imam; an American convert; a co-hacker who is also an Arab Prince; and a puckish Djinn known as Vikram the Vampire. 

Combining politics, modern technology, sorcery and middle eastern theology, Wilson builds an enthralling world where anything can happen, and nothing is as it seems. Part Arabian Nights, part thriller, this book takes us to that place where the veil between the visible and the unseen has separated — and we are thrown into the rift. A rollercoaster ride of darkness, magic, fantasy, and reality. The story illustrates the value of faith, the power of love, and the strength that comes from believing in oneself.

Alif the Unseen was a thoroughly enjoyable read: funny, clever, quirky, and thought-provoking. Read it!

About the author

G. Willow Wilson is an American author and graphic novelist. She wrote her first graphic novel, Cairo, which was published in 2007 and won numerous awards. Wilson has written for both Marvel and DC Comics, including, The X-Men and Wonder Woman. Her latest comic series, the new Ms. Marvel, features Kamala Khan, a Muslim teenager. Her debut novel, Alif, the Unseen, won the 2013 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel. Wilson wrote a memoir in 2010 titled The Butterfly Mosque. Her acclaimed book, The Bird King, was published in 2019.

2 Comments on “Book Talk

  1. I felt the same when I read this book, although it isn’t really like those childhood stories. But it was fantastical and exciting to read. I don’t usually go in for fantasy, but every so often I come across a book in that genre that I can’t put down. I also loved G. Willow Wilson’s newest novel, “The Bird King”. It’s another fantasy — an opulent tale set in 1491 in the Emirate of Granada. A magical story of a concubine and her friend, a talented mapmaker during the Spanish Inquisition. 🙂 It’s worth a read.

  2. Thanks for this. Although I am not a fan of fantasy, you have certainly brought back childhood memories. I was a big Arabian Nights fan and would read and reread those stories and never get bored.