#EnterTheFantastic this #WyrdAndWonder as #JorieReads | Book Review for “Heir to the Lamp” (Book One: Genie Chronicles) by Michelle Lowery Combs

Posted Thursday, 9 May, 2019 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: A few years ago now, I started to review for World Weaver Press – until I reached the day where my focus on the stories I was receiving for review fell by the wayside. A lot of this had to do with my personal health, the recovery of my father’s stroke and other things which bring adversity into your life which can and will affect your readerly life. I cannot remember exactly what first took me away from reading “Heir to the Lamp” or the sequel “Solomon’s Bell” – however, I did attempt to read them at various moments throughout the past few years including shortly after I received “Solomon’s Bell” for which I posted a Cover Reveal and Extract.

This #WyrdAndWonder, I wanted to redeem myself a bit by getting back into the stories I attempted to read last year but due to the migraines and other issues I was having with my health, I was unable to complete my reading schedule for the event. This is one of the series I was most eager to read and am thankful I can finally focus on during our 2nd Year of Wyrd and Wonder. As I know there are other readers who are following or joining the event directly who appreciate Magical Realism and/or stories of the Jinn as much as I do. Perhaps they will find a new author through my ruminations and as always, I hope whenever I feature a story or anthology by World Weaver Press – word will continue to get out about this lovely Indie Publisher for Speculative Fiction!

I received a complimentary copy of “Heir to the Lamp” direct from the publisher World Weaver Press in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

I admit it, ever since I met a ‘Golem’ & a ‘Jinni’, I’ve been intrigued by Magical Realism stories involving the Jinn!:

I must admit, I had such a wicked sweet time residing inside the world of Helene Wecker’s epic saga involving a Jinn and Golem, I was quite hopeful I might have been able to dig inside a few more since that fateful day I brought home her debut novel from my local library. The irony of course will not be lost on devout readers and bibliophiles alike who are now earnestly blogging their readerly lives (such as I am) when I state it took me until ‘now’ to find the proper time to give to another story of the Jinn – as we eagerly still await the sequel to Wecker’s novel.

When it comes to world-building in a Young Adult novel, I am quite particular about what I’m seeking out (if this YA review can clue you in a bit) as I like to feel as if I’ve properly been transported ‘elsewhere’ to such a degree of certainty – the experience knits itself into your mind’s eye and extends itself into your permanent memories. Because stories which give us that curious stretch of imaginative blissitude allow us the smallest of joys to step into the threshold of someone elses shoes and live their life for a spell!

I find myself drawn more into epic sagas & layered world-buildings in Fantasy; I have recently (since I’ve been a book blogger) found I lean more towards Science Fiction or Sci-Fantasy releases but at the heart of what I love most are Magical Realism stories alongside a fairy-tale re-telling, a legend of lore or an Epic Fantasy that simply carts you off into the depth of a novel that is so wickedly long in length you might need a month or so to fully invest yourself into it’s folds. (herein I am hinting towards my soon-to-be shared readings of “A Turn of Light”; writ by a favourite Sci-Fi author of mine: Ms Czerneda)

My appreciation of genies truly goes back to the infamous television series – where an astronaut and a genie fall in love whilst trying to ‘fit & blend into contemporary life’ – to such great folly you cannot help but laugh along with the characters or feel their misery when things go terribly wrong! Since then, I try to turn my eye towards literature and root out stories of the Jinn (and nowadays golems) which have the depth of journey and an honest world built out of their legends where story-crafters entreat to take us.

Thus, when I heard there was a sequel to “Heir to the Lamp”, I knew it was time to put aside my readings of Ms Parrish’s delish anthologies and hold off on the murderous kitchen novella, to see how Ms Combs has chosen to alight us inside her world!

-previously disclosed on the Cover Reveal w/ Notes for the sequel to Heir to the Lamp

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

#EnterTheFantastic this #WyrdAndWonder as #JorieReads | Book Review for “Heir to the Lamp” (Book One: Genie Chronicles) by Michelle Lowery CombsHeir to the Lamp
Subtitle: Genie Chronicles Book One
by Michelle Lowery Combs
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Sarena Ulibarri
Source: Direct from Publisher

A family secret, a mysterious lamp, a dangerous Order with the mad desire to possess both. Ginn thinks she knows all there is to know about how she became adopted by parents whose number one priority is to embarrass her with public displays of affection, but that changes when a single wish starts a never-ending parade of weirdness marching through her door the day she turns thirteen. Gifted with a mysterious lamp and the missing pieces from her adoption story, Ginn tries to discover who…or what…she really is. That should be strange enough, but to top it off Ginn’s being hunted by the Order of the Grimoire, a secret society who’ll stop at nothing to harness the power of a real genie.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Book Page on World Weaver Press

ISBN: 9780615813424

Also by this author:

Genres: Fantasy Fiction, Magical Realism, YA Fantasy, YA Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction


Published by World Weaver Press

on 16th July, 2013

Pages: 190

Published By: World Weaver Press (@WorldWeaver_wwp)

Available Formats: Trade Paperback, Ebook

The Genie Chronicles series:

Heir to the Lamp by Michelle Lowery CombsSolomon's Bell by Michelle Lowery Combs

Genre(s): Speculative | Young Adult | Fantasy | Lore & Legends

the Jinn (or Jinnis or Genies) | Adoption

Similar Reads: The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker (see also Review)

About Michelle Lowery Combs

Michelle Lowery Combs

Michelle Lowery Combs is an award-winning writer and book blogger living in rural Alabama with her husband, one cat and too many children to count. She spends her spare time commanding armies of basketball and soccer munchkins for the Parks & Recreation departments of two cities.

When not in the presence of throngs of toddlers, tweens and teens, Michelle can be found neglecting her roots and dreaming up the next best seller. She is a member of the Alabama Writers’ Conclave, Jacksonville State University’s Writers’ Club and her local Aspiring Authors group.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

my review of heir to the lamp:

Set during a pivotal game for Virginia as a competitive JV Girls’ Basketball competitor – we open the story as Ginn is about to receive some humbling and surprising news about herself, her destiny and the ways in which she previously perceived her world. You can intuit this through the revelation at the end of the game – where her team is down for the count, the opposing team has a new member whose height puts them at a distinct advantage and where Ginn’s team is doing everything they can not to  lose the faith they could win the game from the underdog status they found themselves trying to overcome. It is here – as we are with Ginn in the car with her family as they make their way to the gym to see the game, we notice a few things about her – she’s not comfortable being in a large family nor is she enthused about having as many siblings as she has which were achieved through adoption.

The adoption side of her life is lightly touched upon – mostly through the angst of a thirteen year old who isn’t quite sure why her parents wanted to keep adding to their family or have to take-on the world whenever someone from outside the family grew critical of their choices in life; especially in how they grew their family through adoption. You can understand her perspective on the matter – as she has an eclectic sibling group whilst you can also appreciate the heart and humbled spirit of her parents who wanted to raise children and did not have a preference of whether or not they were all biologically related to them. I have a soft spot for stories involving Adoption – as I am desiring to adopt from foster care in the future – therefore, whenever I see a story involving Adoption, I do take a more critical eye on how it is discussed and how it fits into the story being told.

I think part of the reason I was struggling to anchour into story and to get into step with Ginn is how her story was being disclosed. It felt a little disjointed at first – but then, once you see her with her mother and she starts to talk about her grandmother – you start to notice her differently, seeing how much she’s trying to understand this transitional period of her life and somewhere at that junction her story starts to move forward in a way you can soak into her world.

Ginn is a girl on the brink of entering her teenage years but she’s more bogged down in worrying about what is plaguing her mind moreso than going through puberty. She has a caring mother who looks after her whenever she’s not feeling quite up to par and even goes out of her way to ensure her daughter will feel a bit better which I felt was a sweet touch. What was lovely though was seeing how a few life lessons and life philosophies were being layered into the story-line – guided by Ginn’s Mum but also, turnt over for introspective reasoning by Ginn herself. There is a point about how nightmares can overtake you if your not careful about how you extract yourself from them but also, on the importance of family. This is a close-knit family who appreciate being with their grandmother but also with each other – even if half the time, I suspect they drive each other a bit batty round the edges, as all good-natured large families do.

You have to laugh, really! Combs has worked in some cleverly placed real-world cultural points of interest into the background of the story – such as Ginn’s Mum having an affinity of interest for the cooking shows we all get excited about time after time – giving her children a bit of an interesting voyage into the culinary arts! I was smiling the whole time as apparently Ginn’s Mum isn’t as gifted in the kitchen as my Mum is nor is she as naturally intuitive about how certain ingredients work best together. This is why I was smiling the most – hearing Ginn tell it, they would be better off if they cooked from ready-made boxes and ate out on occasion if they could afford to do it.

Where the story took a turning into the fantastical is when Rashmere shows up rather unexpectedly and how he points out to Ginn all the different ways her current life is about to unravel. The expressive nature of Rashmere is too adorable! You’ll have to read the story to find out the species Rashmere is on first sight but somehow, Combs tapped into how he could be expressive despite his small presence when he initially enters Ginn’s life. In essence he steals the scene!

I immediately felt connected to Gran – she’s the kind of grandmother you can warm up to rather quickly because of her approach to life! She has a zest for humour and she has a winsome attitude when it comes to how she disarms your nerves. I loved her back-story about how she had to overcome the odds against her on the Army bases her husband had been stationed on? It shows how sometimes the people who exhume the most confidence can sometimes have their own struggles to bear and work through just like everyone else. Mostly though – she just seemed like a wicked awesome grandmother and definitely someone you could confide in the worries weighing on your mind such as the kind Ginn had on hers.

Gran had a keen ability of telling Ginn her back history in such a way that makes it credible despite the fact it has a lot of fantastical elements inside it – as this is a heritage which involves the Jinn. Though not quite the kind of Jinn everyone has heard of before but the kind who has a mixed heritage that involves the Jinn and humans. From there, what was quite impressive is how well Gran took to ensure Ginn of the details even to discuss how her feelings on this matter of disclosure were not the same as her parents – which struck me a bit as an interesting piece of information – as if Ginn’s adoptive parents dismissed a portion of her back-story, than if it weren’t for Gran disclosing the fuller story to her on her birthday, one had to wonder – would Ginn have started to deepen her curiosity about all the unexpected events happening to her since she turnt thirteen?

As we shift into the story of the Jinn – Combs does a wonderful job at educating us on the past histories of the Jinn, how they can exist and what their nature involved in regards to how they used their gifts of magic. It never felt like a specific section of information being given to you as she used Ginn’s own lack of understanding her birth origins as a route of information being passed onto the reader. The closer Ginn went with her own research, the closer we felt we understood who the Jinn were and the laws of how they existed. This also broached the topics of the books of Jinn known as the ‘grimoire’ and how the ancestry of the Jinn was as ancient as it were timeless.

And, of course, my favourite part is when we start to make the transition directly into the world of the Jinn Ginn herself has inherited! It involves Rashmere – as he is her guide to understand her origins but also how the Jinn function, exist and of course, her hidden birthright which he wants her to have a better understanding of if only to thwart the dangers he knows are about to hunt her down. If you’ve seen I Dream of Jeannie than you know a version of the story already – where a Jinni can live in our world as much as they can live alongside their own? The unique bit is that I didn’t even think about how the series I loved as a young girl was actually the foundation I needed to make the transition into the Genie Chronicles! I felt Combs take on the Jinn was uniquely different from the series even though where it overlaps is the legend behind the ‘lamps’ themselves and of course, I loved her creativity in how her lamp in the series is proportioned and outfitted!

Most of the action is in the last quarter of the novel – there is a setting up period to observe Ginn understand her legacy as a Jinn but also, to see how realistically both parts of her life – the Jinn and the human side can co-habitat in her life. By the time we get caught inside the race to fight the evils of this world, everything felt in-sync with what had been disclosed up to this point – meaning, I was not surprised the final showdown involved her entire family save her Gran! I almost thought her Gran might have made an appearance but I think that was a bit of a red herring from earlier in the story where we were led to believe Gran might have a larger role in Ginn’s life than she does as her grandmother.

Personally, my favourite character was not Ginn but Rashmere! He had the best attributes as a character but also, I felt his role in the story was so rounded and fleshed out, that his presence was a true delight to have threading through the background. I definitely am hoping he has a strong presence in the next volume of the series Solomon’s Bell as he was a keenly pivotal character within Heir to the Lamp.

This is a good novel to serve as a gateway into Magical Realism (as its the lighter side of the genre) whilst also giving a good footing of insight into Urban Fantasy and mythological Fantasy involving the Jinn. I think it would appeal to a lot of readers who are seeking a bit of danger and adventure within a fantastical world where not everything is exactly as it seems on the surface of what is being presented but where if you dig a bit deeper into the heart of what is being said, you’ll find the truth glimmering as strong as the purple smoke which is Ginn’s trademark.

on how combs approached styling this series through the lens of magical realism:

At first, I was having a bit of trouble getting into the rhythm of the story – mostly as I didn’t remember my previous readings of the novel and secondly, because I found Ginn to be a difficult lead character to feel close too as she has a lot going on in her young life. You can tell she is at a cross-roads in her life as well – from seeing her world-view deepen as she starts to disclose changes she is undergoing as she moves closer to the truth of her origins but also, how this hidden truth about herself brings in the Speculative layering the story is rooted inside.

There are moments where I think Combs has the same kind of humour I have – as there is this one takeaway where Ginn is about to be with her grandmother at the restaurant for her birthday and its what she says about how her appearance is a credit to funeral chic that made me smirk to the moon! She has a self-defeating attitude – which is contrary of course to the fact she’s a Jinn (though without the knowledge of that for part of the story) to where she is always being overly critical of herself or her family.

The magic within the story comes at you in slow movements of revelation – it isn’t all of a sudden nor is it bent towards the obscure. The magic observed in this story is the kind of magic you’d expect if you were suddenly in the presence of a Jinn. The interesting parallel for me is that Ginn isn’t someone who grew up knowing her ancestral heritage and that leads into a revelation of a plot which allows her time to grow into an awareness of who and whom she truly is in regards to her self-identity and species.

This isn’t just a story about the Jinn either – it has a family at the heart of it – Ginn’s brothers and young sister are just as important to the forward motion of the story as her own self-evolution is to the acceptance of the legacy the Jinn have left behind for her to find. There is a lot of History being revealled as well – as Combs paints a plausible route through History as to whom Ginn’s ancestors might have helped through influence or guidance as Jinn; if you have a grasp on historical figures nearly everyone is familiar with you’ll find those sections to be a bit interesting. I appreciated the fact she kept this rooted in the family and how this isn’t just a young girl’s coming-of age story but rather a family coming to terms with how dearly attached they are to each other. To me that was part of the beauty of the ending outside of the resolution of the opening chapter which has a tie-in to how the novel concludes.

#EqualityInLit: focus on Adoption:

I appreciated how Ms Combs focused on talking opening about Adoption – from the perspective of the adoptive child in particular as it strikes to highlight how even though they are comfortable within their placement as an adoptive child, they still have questions about their birth families. It is healthy for an adoptive child to ask questions like these and also, to feel they are safe to ask their adoptive parents about their biological roots as most children who are adopted (especially from foster care) do know a bit about their birth origins or they have family who are still in contact with them (as foster youth but also after they are adopted). I think it is good to have a story which broaches the subject about how to give adopted children the option to ask questions when they are ready to ask them but also, to never let them feel they can’t ask a question if they have concerns about how that might affect their parents (which Combs brings up in the story-line).

There is a lot of components about Ginn’s adoption being explored in the story and each new chapter leads the reader closer to understanding why transparency and open dialogue with adoptive children about their past is a healthier path to take for their mental health but also for keeping their memories alive about their past. Adoptive children have a past just like everyone else but sometimes their not able to talk about it as openly as others can and this story does a good job at looking at why having a healthy understanding about the past is better than keeping everything a secret.

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Fantastical Elements:

→ Dreamscapes (which are more than they seem)

→ Magic (of the Jinn)

→ Talking Animals

→ Wish Fulfillment (as only the Jinn can do!)

I love when stories have subtle fantastical elements inside them – where you have to peer past what is being seen on the surface in order to better see the Fantasy being woven into the story-line? This is how Combs approached writing Heir to the Lamp – which makes the transition from Urban Contemporary YA to Urban Fantasy YA – she bridges the gaps between a traditional coming-of age story to one that elects to tell a story of growth on behalf of her lead character (Ginn) through the artful approach of having the Jinn mythology set in the background.

I never know what to expect when an animal is present in a Fantasy novel – their either going to be fully conversational or they are a shapeshifting character you have yet to fully meet in their version of themselves which isn’t of the animal world. I was pleasantly surprised by what Combs gave us within this novel and I am hoping there is a bit more of these kinds of encounters in the series as it expands forward.

Magic and wishes almost walk hand in hand with the Jinn – something which I credit to Combs for showcasing throughout the novel. It isn’t so much of a dividing line between the two but how each uses a similar methodology and can be as entwined as the person who casts the wish can walk between two different worlds (with the Jinn and with humans).

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

This book review is courtesy of: World Weaver Press

World Weaver Press Logo provided by World Weaver Press and used with permission.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Showcases of World Weaver Press Titles:

FAE (see also Review)

Disclosing my keen interest in CORVIDAE + Scarecrow (#BookishNotBookish No.6)

CORVIDAE (see akso Review)

It should be noted: I awarded World Weaver Press the honour of two of my Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards as disclosed on my *End of the Year Survey, 2015*.

The Falling of the Moon by A. E. Decker (see also Review)

SCARECROW which contains a sequel short story from Corvidae! (see also Review)

Frozen Fairy Tales (edited by) Kate Wolford (see also Review)

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

Reader Interactive Question:

Which stories of the Jinn have you happily found a writer who conveyed the lore & legend of the Jinni to such a wicked breadth of joy – it encouraged to seek out more stories such as the Genie Chronicles!? OR were you similar to me, feeling that before Wecker’s sequel arrives you wanted to read a bit more stories of the Jinn?!

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reading this novel counted towards

my 2019 reading challenges:

Beat the Backlist banner created by Austine at A Novel Knight and is used with permission.

2019 Backlogue Reviews banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Last year, despite my earnest attempts to read the stories as they alighted in my life for review consideration and contemplation, the fact I had 10 out of 12 difficult months of health afflictions (including my continuing battle with chronic migraines) – I lost the ability to focus on a lot of the books I was receiving. I am thankful I am in a better place right now in late January to where I can begin ‘anew’ and re-settle into the stories and works of Non-Fiction I wasn’t able to read until now – including those which released a year or two prior whilst I was helping my Dad recover from his stroke in late 2016. This New Year is a year where I can reclaim my readerly life and get back into the books I yearn to read, ruminate over and savour.

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whilst being read during my participation of:

Wyrd And Wonder banner created by Imyril. Image Credit: Magical book by Jakub Gojda from 123RF.com.
Wyrd And Wonder banner created by @Imyril. Image Credit: Magical book by Jakub Gojda from 123RF.com.

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{SOURCES: Cover Art for “Heir to the Lamp” and “Solomon’s Bell”, author photo of Michelle Lowery Combs, book synopsis, author biography, and WWP logo badge were provided by World Weaver Press and used with permission. Tweets embedded due to the codes provided by Twitter. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Wyrd And Wonder banner created by @Imyril. Image Credit: Magical book by Jakub Gojda from 123RF.com. Beat the Backlist banner provided by Novel Knight. Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Wyrd And Wonder Book Review badge, #2019BacklogueReviews banner and the comment box banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2019.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Thursday, 9 May, 2019 by jorielov in Ancient Civilisation, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Review (non-blog tour), Equality In Literature, Folklore, Folklore and Mythology, Futuristic Fantasy, Indie Author, Magical Realism, Speculative Fiction, World Weaver Press, Young Adult Fiction




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