Nebula Finalist: His Footsteps, Through Darkness and Light • 2019 • Fantasy novelette by Mimi Mondal

★★★☆☆

Synopsis: Binu is the trapeze master traveling with the Majestic Oriental Circus in India. As a second role, he entertains as Aladdin in a 4D illusion. His partner in this astonishing act is Shahzad Marid, but unknown to the public he is a real jinn who accepted Binu as his master.

The circus is invited to perform at the wedding of the Thirupuram raja. Binu can’t take his eyes off one of Devadasis, a temple dancer.

Review: Can one really be free? The jinni, the trapeze master, and the temple dancer ask the same story, and I liked the different angles at that question. The story flowed entertaining with the relationship of Binu and his jinn but really went nowhere in the end. Though it had a closed ending, the story should have exploited its fantastic setting of a circus in exotic India and come to a more interesting plot twist.  While I liked the characters, both setting and plot felt thin.

Meta: isfdb. It is available online at Tor. I’ve read it as part of the Hugo and Nebula Award finalists.

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