Friday, August 12, 2011
Adijan and Her Genie by L-J Baker
Publisher: Bedazzled Ink Publishing
Calling L-J Baker’s books fantasies may be a mistake, because people who don’t like that genre will miss a terrific reading experience if they don’t read her books. Although there’s often an aspect of fairy tales in her stories, at their hearts they are adventure books. Adijan and Her Genie is about a hero on a quest told with a touch of The Arabian Nights.
Adijan is a screw-up. She has big dreams, but everything she does turns out to be a fiasco and often treads on the other side of the law, so she covers her inadequacies with liquor and dwells in poverty. The only correct thing she has done in her life is marrying Shalimar, who she loves desperately, but Shali’s brother is determined to break the union apart and marry her off to someone who can do him some good financially.
One of her trips to deliver questionable goods leaves her in possession of a locket that contains an enchanted woman named Zobeide. Typical for Adijan’s luck, this woman has no magic power at all to create wealth or good fortune and, when she’s out of the locket, she’s arrogant, self-centered and a real pain in the posterior.
When Shali’s brother manages to separate Shali from Adijan and accomplish a fraudulent divorce, Adijan becomes frantic to win her back before she can be shoved into another marriage. Her only hope seems to be to take Zobeide back to her hometown where she can be freed from her enchantment and pay Adijan the reward that will help her overcome her ex-brother-in-law’s plans. The journey is long and complicated but rewarding for Adijan in ways that she did not anticipate. She learns to face some of her own weaknesses and discovers strengths in her character that she didn’t realize she possessed. She also stands as an example of what the power of love can do as an incentive. The only question is if she can complete her journey in time for any of it to ultimately do her and Shalimar any good.
Although Baker never specifically sets this story in the ancient Middle East, anyone who has read the stories of Sinbad that Sailor and Ali Baba will recognize the tone and the surroundings. Though there is the touch of fantasy, one of the strengths of the story is that it seems totally plausible. Many of the escape scenes would fit just as easily into a Mission Impossible setting or Bourne movie.
The greatest strength however is the way Baker deals with character development. Adijan is not a very admirable person when the story begins, but she grows through the story and acquires traits that transform her into a true hero. Zobeide, who is originally totally unlikable, becomes an appealing person as she learns to amend her attitudes and perceptions. The interesting twist is that she learns these lessons from Adijan, a person she starts out totally despising.
At heart, Adijan and Her Genie is an adventure story with plenty of crises, triumphs and near disasters, but it’s also an encouraging lesson in how a person can change, improve and come to live up to her true potential. This is one of those books that can be read to just enjoy a tale, but also has something to teach in the process.