This book is a lot of fun, with a deeper message underlying the story. A Master of Djinn has got everything you could wish for in a magic novel.
The setting is Egypt and it's sumptuous: with a steampunk mystery theme, diverse, magical, beautifully described characters, supernatural sandstorms, flaming swords, dividing Ghuls, and steam-powered camel racing (!)
Fatma and her trusty assistant Hadia must unwrap the mystery surrounding the return of Al-Jahiz (an ancient alchemist who opened the veil between the nineteenth-century world and the elemental plane of magic) to solve the flaming mass murder of a Brotherhood worshipping him. Hmm.
One of the best things about this story is that it features Egyptian and Sudanese characters, in an alternative early twentieth-century setting that has ejected its British colonisers.
The Djinn have been instrumental in Egypt's regained power.
A Master of Djinn is preceded by two novellas: A Dead Djinn in Cairo, which introduces readers to the indomitable Fatma el-Sha’arawi, only the second female agent in the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities.
Fatma is a tough cookie, fighting for rights for women in her profession: she wears a tailored suit, not a uniform, and her cane hides a sword inside it. In A Master of Djinn she finds herself fighting for the rights of Djinn, when Al-Jahiz renders them his slaves.
In The Haunting of Tram Car 015, Agents Hamad and Onsi investigate; finding much more to the haunting - including secret societies and possessed machines. Can they keep Cairo safe from approaching doom?
P.Djèlí Clark's bio is impressive. A writer of speculative fiction, his short stories have been published in many science fiction, fantasy magazines and anthologies. He studies history, focusing on slavery and emancipation. His blogs about diversity can be found on The Disgruntled Haradrim.
Djeli Clark's first full-length novel, Ring Shout (2020) is about demons feeding from the evil in the Ku Klux Clan, knocked back by Harlem Hellfighters before they can destroy the world. Ring Shout won both the Locus and Nebula Awards last year (2021), was nominated for a staggering nine others and voted best pick by the New York Times and the Library Journal, to name a few.
I really enjoyed the fun of A Master of Djinn. I'm looking forward to reading more from the Dead Djinn Universe.
Read more books about Djinn and Genies:
- The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree
- The City of Brass
- The Hundred-thousand Kingdoms
- Hâsib & the Queen of Serpents
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