Zeenat Mahal has the knack of using the right words at the right place. Her character’s point-of-view is spot on while her narration takes the reader right in the middle of the scenes. The way she gradually develops her characters and incorporates their thoughts and actions with the overall story is truly an amazing sight that readers actually feel while reading her novels. Where Zeenat Mahal penned ‘Haveli’ in 2013 showing the 1970s and a joint family setting, her latest novel, ‘The Historian and the Hunter’ narrates to the readers the life of Shirin and Laila; two girls who are fighting demons to save their city, Lahore. This is an urban fantasy, and while this genre is not much developed in Pakistan, Zeenat Mahal takes up the challenge of writing a novel in this genre and has brought out an amazing product.The reader’s attention will be hooked on the story from the very first sentence of the prologue. However, the readers’ curiosity will accentuate from the first chapter and it will not lessen until the story reaches its climax. It will be Shirin and Laila in action throughout the story joining hands to fight the forces of evil, such entities that remain invisible to the normal eye and have the potential to destroy the essence of Lahore. She has blended these entities with the history of Lahore and the amalgamation is spot on – it remains believable, credible and plausible. The readers’ curiosity will accentuate from the first chapter and it will not lessen until the story reaches its climaxWho are these monsters? What is their origin? What is their incentive? Who gave the power to Shirin and Laila to fight them? Answers such as these and more shall be answered once you start reading the story. The story at certain moments will make you ponder over how Shirin and Laila will slay these monsters for the two hunters are women. And in our society, women do not hunt, at all. However, it is in Zeenat Mahal’s expression and writing style we find the avenues to see how Shirin and Laila become the warriors they were destined to be. While Shirin is a hunter, on the other hand, her identical twin sister, Laila, is a historian who diligently finds mysteries while guiding Shirin on how to deal with such evil prevailing in the city.Then there are the characters Madam Ara and Emir who are more like mentors and guide for the two girls. A twist also entwines in with the story, beautifully added and joined by Zeenat as a subplot. Laila finds a diary filled with old secrets no one else knows of. However, her inquisitiveness increases when Madam Ara calls these secrets a myth. However, Laila’s interest only increases in these clandestine facts written in the diary for she did learn about such secrets as child and her heart tells there is some truth to this myth. Amidst the story there is Saiyyaad who are the original hunter hunting a giant who went by the name of nau-guzza. Was Shirin able to hunt down nau-guzza before the giant would create havoc? An urban fantasy novel must have certain aspects that are imaginary or features that are impractical or far from reality. However, Zeenat’s narrative, while being dominated by fantasy and imagination, has the element of believability for she has kept both Shirin and Laila humans. Although the two girls have powers to see and fight with invisible entities, their character development keeps them Homo sapiens and not jinns. In my opinion, this was a necessary task for it will make readers relate themselves to Shirin and Laila and their life’s mission.Also in the novel is the Majlis-e-Shameer, the Secret Council for whom the sisters work. However, certain events take place, which jeopardise the very existence of the Secret Council. What will Shirin and Laila do to protect the sanctity of the council and revert its status is for you to find out. What I find interesting about ‘The Historian and the Hunter’ is how effectively Zeenat Mahal uses the right vocabulary to construct sentences that not only grip the readers’ attention but also flawlessly move the story forward. Her command over ‘showing the scenes and not telling them’ is too good, which makes this novel an enjoyable read. If you like to read fantasy novels then ‘The Historian and the Hunter’ must be your weekend read. It is filled with suspense, mystery and too many questions that only accentuate your curiosity to know what happens next until you are standing in between the fight between evil forces on one side and Shirin and Laila on the other. The writer is a columnist. He can be reached at email@example.comPublished in Daily Times, March 14th 2018.