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Alif the Un­seen G. Wil­low Wil­son, Allen & Un­win, $29.99 Strad­dling two worlds, Alif the Un­seen is an in­trigu­ing de­par­ture from nor­mal fan­tasy. Blend­ing the mod­ern and an­cient clev­erly, it is based in Ara­bic mythol­ogy and Is­lam. Set in an un­named Mid­dle-Eastern land, US au­thor G. Wil­low Wil­son’s de­but re­volves around com­puter ge­nius Alif. He shields his dis­si­dent clients from the cy­ber po­lice of a vin­dic­tive and in­tru­sive regime. If that weren’t hard enough, soon he finds him­self in a des­per­ate bat­tle which car­ries him into the hid­den realm of the djinn. Should his quest fail, the bat­tle for free­dom in his land will be lost. It all hangs to­gether well, even if Wil­son’s cheer­lead­ing for Is­lam – she’s a con­vert – some­times can be jar­ring for a mod­ern, Western reader. Scott Moore

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