I read this novel about 10 or 15 years ago, but it might be a bit older than that. Not very old, though, not much more than 20 years old, I think. I'm pretty sure I read it in English. I don't think it was a translation from some other language.

It takes place in our world, in our time period but djinn exist, hidden somewhere in mountains in the Middle East. Some guy is trying to use their power for his own purposes.

I don't remember much of it, and totally forgot the end, but I think it did not work the way this guy expected.

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    Salman Rushdie's Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights has jinn in modern New York City, but it's only 8 years old.
    – Barmar
    Feb 9, 2023 at 15:50
  • Probably not your book, but Alif the Unseen seems relevant Feb 9, 2023 at 17:20
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    AFAIK the whole point of djinn is that things don't work out the way you expect. So that probably doesn't help identify the book in question ...
    – davidbak
    Feb 9, 2023 at 21:08
  • @Barmar Not in NYC, in a mountain range in the Middle East.
    – Alfred
    Feb 9, 2023 at 21:40
  • @davidbak Well, you do have a point ! More or less the whole point of djinn is unexpectedness. So why do people try to use them ? Hoping to find one in an old oil lamp ?
    – Alfred
    Feb 9, 2023 at 21:42

5 Answers 5


Possibly Tim Powers' novel Declare, which is set during the Second World War, and in the 1960s, about a secret agency hidden within British Secret Services, with the goal of destroying the Djinni that is secretly supporting the Soviet Union.

  • I read a synopsis of Declare and it looks good. I'll try to find out more before accepting formally.
    – Alfred
    Feb 9, 2023 at 12:41
  • It talks a decent amount about Kim Philby -- a real-life British double-agent who spent time in Egypt and was buried in Russia, and the rest of the 5 British double-agents, many of whom were gay (which was a crime at the time). There's talk of Djinn being killed by "eggs" or other ordinary things and repeats things like "the math isn't right". Feb 9, 2023 at 15:33
  • I have been looking for details about "Declare" on the Internet and definitely concluded it is indeed my book
    – Alfred
    Feb 11, 2023 at 19:01

The Golem and The Jinni by Helene Wecker fits what you've described, though the story is set close to WW1. The author just came out with a sequel in 2021 too.

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    Hi, welcome to the site. You could improve this answer by editing it to be a bit more specific about any points that match the description given in the question, and any that don't. Specifying the year the book was published in would be helpful as well. Feb 9, 2023 at 11:35
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    Thank you but no, there were Djinns but no Golem in my story. I don't remember much, but definitely no Golem, I would have remembered that.
    – Alfred
    Feb 9, 2023 at 12:43
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    That was the first one I thought of too.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Feb 9, 2023 at 13:23

The Alex Verus series of books by Benedict Jacka have Djinn, The first book came out in 2012 and the last book came out in 2021.

I forget which book they are first introduced properly but the Monkey's Paw plays a significant part in one of the early books, and the wishes always end up going wrong for the holder. We find out in a later book that the Monkey's Paw turns out to be a trapped Djinn who hates humans, especially mages.

I believe there is a Djinn's tomb featured in the 7th book Burned, and this Djinn is a major antagonist in later books.

Goodreads series link


The Old Genie Hottabych (1938).

A children's book by Lazar Lagin.

This amusing and fascinating children's book is often called the Russian "Thousand and One Nights."
Who is the old Genie Hottabych?
This is what the author has to say of him: "In one of Scheherazade's tales I read of the Fisherman who found a copper vessel in his net. In the vessel was a mighty Genie -a magician who had been imprisoned in the bottle for nearly two thousand years. The Genie had sworn to make the one who freed him rich, powerful and happy.
"But what if such a Genie suddenly came to life in the Soviet Union, in Moscow? I tried to imagine what would have happened if a very ordinary Russian boy had freed him from the vessel.
"And imagine, I suddenly discovered that a schoolboy named Volka Kostylkov, the very same Volka who used to live on Three Ponds Street, you know, the best diver at summer camp last year . . . On second thought, I believe we had better begin from the beginning . . . "

  • 3
    Looks like you're quoting the Wikipedia page for the 1956 film adaptation here, rather than the original 1938 book (which has a slightly different title). When quoting text from another site, you should specify the source of that text and provide a link. It's also worth noting that the OP said they don't think the book they're looking for is much more than 20 years old, so this is a long way outside of the expected timeframe. Feb 10, 2023 at 7:43

I'd go for Marge Piercy's He, She and It published as Heart of Glass in the UK.

The time is the middle of the twenty-first century. The place is what used to be North America, now Norika: a vast toxic wasteland dotted with huge environmental domes, enclaves of the monolithic corporations-the “multis”-that have replaced governments and whose employees have become an indentured citizenry; the far fewer “free towns,” independent settlements where the remarkable technology of the age has not yet been turned against the individual; and the “Glop,” the overwhelmed stretches of megalopolis where nine-tenths of the Norikans live – violent, festering warrens unprotected from the poisonous atmosphere and ruled by feuding gangs and warlords.

It is in this world that Shira Shipman struggles to find her place. Shira is a woman who longs for the traditions of her upbringing even as she breaks from them; a woman whose life has been “shattered into bright dangerous shards” by the loss of custody of her young son. Now, as the novel opens, she is returning to Tikva, the Jewish free town where she was raised. . . but she finds no easy respite in going home. Her part in the creation of an illegal cyborg – more nearly human than any created before, given life in order to protect the town, but truly brought to life by Shira’s deep and startling involvement with it – places her, her young son and her elderly grandmother at the center of a deadly battle for information, the most important commodity of the time. If the cyborg is man-built, it is woman-programmed, and that woman has been a lifelong rebel and sexual iconoclast.

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    Hi, welcome to the site. You could improve this answer by editing it to specify the ways in which this matches the book described in the question, and any ways in which it doesn't. Specifying the year in which the book was published would be helpful too. Feb 9, 2023 at 20:08
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    Definitely doesn't fit. Maybe you're confusing "golem" with "jinn" ???
    – Ben Bolker
    Feb 9, 2023 at 20:57
  • I agree with Ben Bolker, it really does not fit. It is in our world, except that Djinns exist, hidden in a mountain range. Not middle of the 21st century, not a dystopia in the future.
    – Alfred
    Feb 9, 2023 at 21:39
  • Yeah, sorry ... got derailed by the mention of Golems in the prior comment. Not Djinn. But since we're having fun here, I'll draw our attention to "Bob the Skull" (who isn't actually a skull but an air spirit of intelligence that lives in one) in the Jim Butcher "Harry Dresden" novels. And just last night I saw this NetFlix thing called "Lockwood and Co." that has a ghost focus, but also in the last couple episodes focuses on an imprisoned intelligence very like a Djinn. It comes from a novel series (that I haven't read) by Jonathan Stroud
    – Robin
    Feb 9, 2023 at 22:15
  • @Robin The point is, I don't remember much but one of the few things I do remember is the word Djinn; So not a generic "air spirit" nor a ghost-like imprisoned intelligence. Whatever they were, they were definitely called Djinns.
    – Alfred
    Feb 9, 2023 at 23:08

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