Today's story from The Girl with the Peacock Harp is set in contemporary Britain. Nadia Marabet, a British-born Arab Muslim, is sent to do community service at a psychiatric hospital. There she encounters a boy dubbed Monkey, who was found in mysterious circumstances and is assumed to be autistic. However, Monkey's strange, cat-like eyes and his ability to speak Arabic leads Nadia to form a rather different theory.
As with the previous story, 'Kelpie', Michael Eisele here offers a variation on a theme from folklore. In this case the supernatural being is one familiar from The Thousand and One Nights, but the author rings the changes by having a djinn or genie encounter a clever, resourceful modern woman who is not interested in having wishes granted. Or at least, not for her. The story also use the classic 'be careful what you wish for' theme in a new and interesting way. The conclusion may not be entirely surprising to anyone who recalls the X-Files episode 'Je Souhaite'.
The Britain Nadia inhabits is not a particularly pleasant one. Bigotry and corruption flourish, and minorities are objects of suspicion or worse. But there is still an optimistic tone to the tale, and in general Eisele is less pessimistic than many modern authors of weird fiction.
I'll have another mini-review tomorrow!