When Madame Lula learns she must die, she amuses herself by writing her will. In it she bequeaths not just her money and real estate but her tenants. These, lodged in her body, are znoon: a kind of demon and her slaves. Lula's little joke: leave her znoon to her detested family. The normal work of znoon is to make trouble. After her death they leave her mansion in the capital to track down the heirs. But these znoon, highly specialized mischief-makers, like city comfort and balk at having to hunt down Lula's provincial relatives.They scheme, and the plan they devise winds up the will and provokes an uprising against the government. The human heirs, freed from enchantment, seem feeble but reveal skills no one guessed they owned. They turn the history of this troubled world in an unexpected direction.
In this third novel of his fabulist series The Enchantments,
Tom La Farge considers how humans might create political change and escape the image-enthralled souls they mistake for exclusive identities. Upon the alternative North African setting of The Broken House and Maznoona -- a world enchanted by the demons of false consciousness -- he overlays an idea of animal souls from the beliefs of indigenous Americans: we contain several souls, who make our lives their habitat and lend us their habits, moods, and behaviors. They lead us into strange explorations, potentially perilous, potentially rewarding, unless they are restrained by imposed, often artificial oversouls.