I’ve read and enjoyed Nicole Peeler’s Jane True series, so I was pretty geeked when I heard about Jinn and Juice, the first book in her new urban fantasy series. While I liked and will continue the series, there was quite a bit of world-building to absorb that, at times, took me away from the story. Because it’s the first book in a new series, I expected to be faced with the first book learning curve. The characters (especially supporting characters) really drove the story through complicated plots. If you’re a fan of quirky and eccentric supporting characters that steal the show, then Jinn and Juice is a solid choice. This new, magical Pittsburgh and its colorful inhabitants look to provide so many more adventures for Lyla, Oz, and their crew of “misfit toys.”
Meet Lyla: Jinn, belly dancer, and the hottest new urban fantasy heroine in town.
To escape an arranged marriage, a jinni granted Lyla her wish: to live a thousand years as a jinni herself.
Now, her servitude is ending, but there are a few obstacles in Lyla’s path to freedom. A Magi intent on binding her again, a jinni bent on vengeance, and not to mention the nightmare from her past that threatens to make her curse permanent — and claim her very soul.
Jinn and Juice is the first in a new series by fantasy writer, Nicole Peeler set in a world of immortal curses, vengeful jinni and belly dancing.
The information dump that I typically associate with the first book of any series was lessened by the relationship with the two main characters. Ozan (Oz), is a newbie to the supernatural world, so we are treated to explanations as he figures things out. Lyla, the other main character and centuries old jinni, is our guide. Lyla is fun, snarky, and one unusual jinni – she can pull power from the steel contaminated Pittsburgh Node. She’s also desperate for her freedom and must remain unBound at her 1,000-year jinni anniversary to escape her curse. When the story opens, she’s doing well and successfully hiding herself. Then along came Oz. He’s blissfully unaware of his power (and the entire supernatural world). I kind of liked Lyla, but there were times that she seemed too emotionally immature, and it was distracting. As an ancient jinni with unbelievable powers that has lived through so many iterations of human civilization, I expected her to be a little more like her wise friend, Charlie. Alas, the wisdom did not abound with Lyla. Because of my love for the Jane True series, I’m hopeful that we will get more insight on Lyla’s history in future books. Maybe she is perfectly justified in her behavior, or maybe her relationship with Oz will provide the balance that she needs.
The strength of this story was in the supporting cast – Charlie (the Oracle), Yulia (the will-o’-the-wisp), Bertha (the troll), and Rachel (the psychic drag queen). I want more of all of them. The eclectic mix of outrageous personalities and intense loyalty was fantastic. There are a few things that are must-haves for me to have an optimal reading experience. Witty dialogue and general badassery are two items on that list that Jinn and Juice does well. The tasteful presentation of so many over-the-top characters is lovely. Though, I will admit that Charlie is my favorite. I don’t know if it’s because he seems to be the glue that holds the group together, or if it’s because he is so grounded in the midst of chaos. Each member of Lyla’s entourage carries his or her own weight and is awesome in his or her own right. Dialogue was snappy, humor abounded, and I am definitely curious to see where Ms. Peeler takes this series.
All in all, the Jinn and Juice plot was a bit more slow-moving than I prefer. However, I know from experience that Ms. Peeler is a master at building fantastic worlds with multi-faceted characters that become good fictional friends after a time (for example, Jane True). There were several fun action scenes and the ending really sets the stage for the rest of the series. Jinn and Juice was a slightly darker book than I was expecting, and I’m still processing all of the characters and the plot. I would suggest this book to those that are in it for the long haul. If you like series reading, quirky supporting characters that are misfits, and have the patience to see where this all goes, pick up Jinn and Juice and give it a chance.
Jinn and Juice