Philippa and John Gaunt are not your ordinary, twelve-year-old twins. For one thing, they are totally different from each other: John is tall and dark and a magnet for trouble; Philippa is short and red-headed, with glasses and a cool, analytical mind. Nevertheless, they are so close to each other that they can almost read each others minds.
Besides that, they are also a couple of the richest kids in New York City, with an investment banker father and a glamorous, charity-ball-giving mother. They have two incredibly intelligent dogs, named Alan and Neil. They are extremely fit, but also claustrophobic. And already at age twelve, they need to have their wisdom teeth removed.
Only after this operation do they start to learn exactly how different they are. It starts when the cleaning lady wishes, in Philippas hearing, that she would win the lottery. Philippa feels power going out of her…and the next day, the cleaning lady wins $33 million! Other odd things happen, but it isnt until the twins go to spend the summer with their Uncle Nimrod (their mothers estranged brother) that they learn who they really are: Djinn.
I will leave it to the book to explain to you what Djinn are, where they come from, and what their powers are. Let it be enough to say that they are creatures of fire who can grant wishes, and who control the good and bad luck of the whole world. There are six tribes of Djinn three of them good, and three of them evil. And if the balance of luck in the world (i.e., the power of the good and bad tribes) swings too far toward the bad, it could mean disaster for all mankind. This is what Nimrod, John, and Philippa must stop in their first adventure together, which takes them to the dust and heat of Egypt, a race against evil Djinn to find artifacts from a long-lost tomb, a feud against a leading villain named Iblis, and finally, a confrontation with one of the evilest spirits known to Djinnkind.
It is a story filled with amazing imagery, historical detail, fascinating background lore, high adventure, and quirky humor. The heroes are good-natured, all-American kids who, at the same time, become increasingly engaged in ancient mysteries, weird happenings, deadly dangers, and clever plots. There is a one-armed butler with a mouth full of complaints and a heart of gold; an elderly Djinn who looks like a holy man from India, but who talks with an Irish accent; and other equally wacky and wonderful characters and situations.
An occult content advisory should go out, however. The Djinn lore in this book (based on the classic Arabian Nights stories) involves a unique variant of Judeo-Christian and Muslim cosmology, which includes angels, demons, and humans as well as good and bad Djinn, and the possibility of any one of these enslaving the others. This brings the world of Children of the Lamp much closer to the classic definition of magic than the Harry Potter series. While, in my opinion, this book is no more than a fantasy (like an Arabian Nights tale translated into modern times), parents should make their own judgment about whether these themes are appropriate for their children.
The author of this book is known as Philip Kerr to the readers of his adult fiction. Kerr wrote this young-readers fantasy for, and with the help of, his own kids. He reportedly wanted to encourage them to spend more time reading. To judge by how much fun it is to read this book, I would bet that he succeeded. For a second Children of the Lamp adventure, uncork The Blue Djinn of Babylon.