Book Reviews, Thoughts

Alif the Unseen — A Review

Photo James Douglas on Unsplash

In her fabulous debut novel, G. Willow Wilson, weaves a magical story that blends 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 the fight against the Hand, by his devout neighbour Dina, an elderly imam, an American convert, a co-hacker who is also an Arab Prince, a roguish Djinn, known as Vikram the Vampire and various other denizens of the “Empty Quarter”, the demonic realm of mysterious creatures, ghosts and spirit beings.

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. A story that 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!


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