For Ages
8 to 12

Farrah Noorzad and the Ring of Fate is a part of the Farrah Noorzad collection.

A 12-year-old girl discovers her true jinn heritage when a birthday wish gone wrong traps her father in a magical ring, sending her on an epic quest to free him. This richly imagined fantasy series inspired by Persian mythology and Islamic lore is filled with action, magic, and self-discovery.

“A jewel of a fantasy novel that shines with adventure and sparkles with humor.”
—A.F. Steadman, New York Times Bestselling author of Skandar and the Unicorn Thief

Farrah sees her father just one day every year—her birthday. But this year, her wish to bring them closer goes wildly awry when Farrah discovers she is a half-jinn...and her father is one of the seven great jinn kings. Her wish traps  her father inside a legendary ring, and the other six jinn kings will follow unless Farrah can rectify her mistake. 

Pursued by menacing shadow jinn, Farrah’s quest takes her to a floating mountain range. Joined by Idris, the jinn boy whom she inadvertently freed from the ring, and her newly discovered half-brother, Yaseen, Farrah must find a way to navigate the mysteries and dangers of her new world in order to save her father and face the most devious jinn lord of all.

An Excerpt fromFarrah Noorzad and the Ring of Fate

Chapter One

The Worst Birthday E V E R

The first couple of times Padar took me climbing, he’d always say something cheesy like To be truly free, we must face the things that scare us.

I’m not sure freedom is what I felt when he tripped over a tangle of rope and let me drop twenty feet before saving me from imminent death at the Go Vertical climbing gym.

I was only six then, so what did I know about metaphors anyway? Or gym rules, like Parents shall not let go of rope when belaying child climber, otherwise risk being banned forever.

It’s safe to say we never went back there again. It’s fine, though, because now I don’t need my dad to belay me. Now I hold my own rope. And I haven’t been afraid of falling since.

Which is good on a day like today. My fingers are crimped into the crack of a large boulder, my toes are wedged into a crevice, and there’s nothing stopping me from plummeting to the ground except my own strength and expertly placed clips. I like to think that gravity and I are in a never-ending fight that I always win. I push myself higher and smile when I’m eye level with the treetops. Up here, I can imagine that impossible things could be real, like little flying pari with their wings fluttering in between leaves, or tricky forest spirits waiting for lost travelers to confuse. Or impressing barely-there dads.

I sneak a quick glance at the ground of Wissahickon Valley Park--one of my favorite places in Pennsylvania to climb. My dad and I have a birthday tradition to try different climbing spots (even though December can get pretty chilly, but I don’t let a little wind and dry skin stop me). In between our yearly trips, I practice anywhere I can--up the side of my rowhome, dynoing between one fire escape and another, improving my grip strength by hanging off my school’s roof by my fingers and toes (because you never know).

From up here, my dad resembles a burly ant with his thick brows pinched together (breaching into unibrow territory). He smiles encouragingly. I can’t help but shyly grin back. I feel like a bottle of freshly shaken soda when my dad gets to see me climb. The excitement convinces me I can do anything.

Get ready to be impressed, Padar. I want to show him a trick I’ve been practicing since our last trip. I keep one hand on my rope and push out hard with my feet, so for a moment I’m flying like the mythical simurgh--the fabled Persian phoenix that’s way cooler than regular phoenixes. I pretend I have wings and arc with the rope as it swings. The periwinkle sky shimmers around me while I wave at Padar. I swing and pivot, ready to catch the rock when it nears again. Clumps of chalk flutter from my bag--and land directly on my dad’s face.

“Sorry!” I frantically wave, causing more chalk to fall from my pouch. My body veers to the left, and I miss the catch. My shoulder crunches into the edge of the rock, causing little stars to dance in front of my eyes. “Oh no no no.” Something goes slack above me.

Suddenly, I don’t feel as great as a mythical phoenix. To make the whole situation worse, Padar loses his grin. “Stop goofing around and focus, Farrah,” he chastises. “Remember our lessons! Check your rope and clips.”

The fizz I had goes completely flat. My cheeks are hot and sweaty. Lessons. My entire life was a lesson. Why couldn’t he see past my mess-ups for once? I can imagine his voice now. You’re doing awesome, Farrah. You’ve gotten so much stronger since last year. I wish I could see you more too.

The last thought slips out before I get a chance to squash it.

Get a grip, Farrah. I pump myself up. You’re twelve now. No one needs their dad anymore at twelve.

I climb higher, ignoring Padar’s shouts to come back down. Climb, clip, climb, clip. The farther I go, the taller I feel, and the bad feelings fall away until there’s nothing but sun and sky and air. My best friend and sister-in-crime, Arzu Ahmadi, thinks if I started a social media account to show off my doodles and calligraphy (with some ASMR sound effects), then Padar would be so impressed, he’d start coming around more often. Nobody likes to feel like they’re missing out! she always says, before jumping into a roundoff back handspring full twist.

Maybe she’s right. If Padar could only see how much I can do now, things will change. I just know it. He’ll stop hiding me. And maybe it’ll be me getting on an airplane and visiting his house in Abu Dhabi.

I’m reaching up when a bird flies right at me with a piercing squawk.

“Don’t let go!” Padar hollers, but it’s too late.

I mess up my clip, and my rope gets super loose. The ache in my shoulder shoots up, and I lose my grip. I can’t hold on--I start dropping fast. As I fall backward, the worst thing in all climbing history happens: my rope slips out of my clips, one by one by one.

Oh nooooooooooooooo.

I scream as I tumble faster and faster. My hair slaps against my face as I plummet--ten, twenty, thirty feet and counting--to the ground. “Heeeeeeelllllllp!” I squeeze my eyes shut and start praying for the next five seconds. I promise to do all my homework ahead of time. I’ll help Madar clean up in the kitchen. I’ll stop farting next to Baba Haji and blaming the smell on him--

Someone must have been listening because the last clip holds, jerking me to a stop two feet above the ground. Stars dazzle in my eyes, and I feel like someone sucker punched my entire body. I unbuckle and collapse into the dirt, flat on my back, breathing a mile a minute.

“What were you thinking?” Padar’s angry face blocks out the sun. “Why don’t you ever listen to me? That was dangerous. Reckless. You could have gotten hurt. Or God forbid--”

The fizz is back when I jump to my feet, but this time it’s different.

So much for being impressed.

“I’m fine. I’ve had worse falls.” Like that one time a fourth-story fire escape suddenly broke off midjump and I fell into a dumpster. “And I’ve never broken a bone from a fall.” Or ever, I want to say, but I keep that to myself because that’s pretty weird. I like to think it’s my special superpower, being indestructible (that is, if superpowers existed). It helps with getting through the tough stuff anyway, like having to deal with a disappointed dad. I wipe dirt from my pants and nervously tug on my ponytail. “Can I have my phone back, please?”

“You nearly smash into the ground, and the first thing you ask for is your phone?” Padar looks like he’s about to blow a gasket. “How about we discuss how you went past your limits!”

I bristle. “I practice in the gym all the time--”

“Apparently not enough to know you clipped in backward.”

Red alert. The warning signs are flashing little red and blue lights in my eyes, but I can’t stop it. The fizz bubbles up and pushes the words right out of my mouth.

“How would you know what I can do when you’re never around?” I say loudly. “If you were here, you’d know I’m stronger than you think.” I stalk off. My favorite blue chalk bag crashes against my legs as I stumble up, up, up on the uneven path.

Padar outpaces me and catches me in his arms. “I’m sorry. You’re right.” He falters. His bushy brows crinkle together the way they always do when he’s about to say something unpleasant. “I wish I could change things, but you know the rules.”

Rules. Another word like lessons. I’d rather drink lemon juice mixed with unsweetened almond milk (or warm, week-old doogh) than hear another one. The glare of the sunset hides my frown. “I just don’t know why I have to be punished for something that’s not my fault.” I break away from his hug, even though I really don’t want to. “Anyway, we’re wasting daylight. We don’t have much time to get to the best part of the hike.”

Padar’s relief is a little too obvious when I change the subject. He doesn’t miss a beat and switches back to his annual updates on what’s been going on with him. He’s a judge in the UAE, so he doesn’t really have that much free time. The same old work never ends and time flies so fast and wish I knew the secret to slow it down and I promise things will be different when you’re older and you know how it is.

“Right.” I kick rocks out of my way. “I know.”

In my community, people like to keep it traditional. We don’t like to stray from the OG way. So when Padar and Madar had me, a harami--an out-of-wedlock kid--when they were younger, well . . . that just wasn’t something good Muslims did.

Because of that, I’ve lived with Madar and my grandparents my whole life, which is fine, minus the old-people smell. And Padar was married off before I was born to someone who didn’t break the rules, so we’ve lived separately since forever. I guess Padar’s family is really into rules (which is probably where he gets it from), but sometimes I wonder if there was something else that happened the adults won’t tell me. It’s not like I’m saying this because I want anyone to feel sorry for me, though. I’m still lucky because I have Arzu, and she only lives ten blocks away, plus she’s Muslim and Afghan American too. So she gets it.

And it’s really not all that bad. I mean, at least I get to see Padar on my birthday. It could be worse. I could not get to see him at all.

“Can you stop looking like you’ve sucked on a lemon? Or do I need to tickle a smile out of you?” Padar creeps up from behind, and I dart out of the way just as he swipes for me. I can’t help the grin that breaks across my face. Padar knows I can’t resist a good challenge.

“Only if you can catch me first!” I take off, full speed, through the worn trail, keeping an ear out for the sound of Padar’s laughs and stomping feet as I push vines and branches out of my face. For a second I pretend we’re running from a small army of elves and I’m the one leading the way to safety. The burn in my legs encourages me to go faster, push harder until I finally reach the clearing and stop at the edge of a cliff.

“Beat you!” I throw my pack on the ground and whoop in triumph.

“That’s not fair. I’m the one carrying all our supplies.” Padar drops heaps of rope, shoes, and his own pack. He stretches out his back, twisting left and right. “I’m getting too old for this.”

“Didn’t anyone tell you, excuses aren’t a good look?” I tiptoe toward the ledge. The cliff juts fifteen feet over a massive drop. Wind hums in my ears and dances with my hair. The forest marches out, just begging us to come explore and discover all its whispering secrets.

The sun makes itself comfy on the horizon as it gets ready to switch places with the moon in preparation for the longest night of the year. Which means our day is almost done. I go home to Madar to finish Yalda night celebrations, and Padar just . . . leaves for another three hundred and sixty-four days with his real family.

I hunch over and hug my knees to my chest. My stomach always starts to hurt when I think of the rest of Padar’s life. I wonder what it would be like to see what my dad’s real family looks like. What it would feel like to have a dad at home. Or to know if he had other kids besides me. No matter how hard I try, I can’t imagine it. It’s hard to picture a family you’ve never seen. And I don’t want to ask my dad if I do have any siblings in case he says no or that’s not for you to know.

“Figured we’d need something extra warm for the sunset.” Padar drapes a gray-and-white blanket around me. He sits and pulls me in. “I can’t believe Yalda night is here again.” The Night of Birth is the longest night of the year, where darkness roams for as long as it can. My grandmother likes to say it’s the night where magical jinn lurk in the shadows, waiting to create havoc and mischief. It’s also officially the start of winter. Even if it wasn’t my birthday, it’s still my favorite night of the year for this reason.

I lean into Padar’s shoulder and listen to the steady whoosh of his breathing and hang on tight. With my eyes screwed shut, I make myself remember this moment. Remember the way Padar always smells like vanilla and soap. Remember the way his left eye squints when he smiles. Remember the way it feels to have a dad. Even if it’s just for a day. And then I slip it away, into a tiny little box inside my head for safekeeping, so I can focus on the happy feelings instead of the sad.

“Maybe now is a good time for a picture.” Padar fiddles with my phone, angles it high, and says, “Paneer!” before snapping a photo. I laugh when his eyes cross. “Okay, less goofy one now.”

“Let me see.” I grab the phone from his hands and swipe through. “I need to approve it, you know? Make sure it’s good enough.”

“Yes, ma’am,” says Padar through a mock salute.

“It’s serious business. If you don’t take the right picture, how could anyone know we went hiking?” Not like I’d ever show anyone these photos (well, maybe Arzu, since she bugs me every time), but it’s important to make sure there’s one that’s just right. I erase all the mess-ups until there’s one perfect picture left. Padar and me, bathed in a dewy glow of golds and violets--the in-between of night and day. We look happy, like we have all the time in the world.

After a moment of gazing at the sunset, Padar asks, “Do you want to know why this night is so important?”

“Yes,” I say, because it’s the last part of our birthday tradition before we head back to the car. I already know the answer, but I still wait to hear it.

Under the Cover