Thanks to NetGalley and Tordotcom for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: May 11th, 2021
Synopsis: Nebula, Locus and Alex Award-winner P. Djèlí returns to his popular alternate Cairo for his fantasy novel debut A Master of Djinn.
Cairo 1912: Though Fatma el-Sha’arawi, is the youngest woman working for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, she’s certainly not a rookie, especially after preventing the destruction of the universe last summer.
So when someone murders a secret brotherhood dedicated to one of the most famous men in history, al-Jahiz, Agent Fatma is called onto the case. Al-Jahiz transformed the world 50 years ago when he opened up the veil between the magical and mundane realms, before vanishing into the unknown. This murderer claims to be al-Jahiz, returned to condemn the modern age for its social oppressions. His dangerous magical abilities instigate unrest in the streets of Cairo that threaten to spill over onto the global stage.
Alongside her Ministry colleagues and her clever girlfriend, Siti, Agent Fatma must unravel the mystery behind this imposter to restore peace to the city—or face the possibility he could be exactly who he seems… (Goodreads)
Although P. Djèlí Clark’s first full length novel is a little slow to get started, as a first time reader of his fiction, I’m hooked! First and foremost is the storyline itself, which is a spellbinding mashup of steampunk, historical fantasy, and suspenseful mystery. I fell completely in love with the alternative 1912 version of Cairo, and thanks to all the exquisite details that were included, I easily imagined myself there. The mystery itself was interesting and kept me guessing through a good portion of the book. The characters are diverse and colorful, particularly Fatma, Siti, and Hadia, all strong and independent women, yet still having to struggle for society’s acceptance. Overall, A Master of Djinn is a thoroughly entertaining and creative tale. While it’s not strictly necessary to have read the two previous short stories in this series: A Dead Djinn in Cairo and The Haunting of Tram Car 015, I recommend you do so instead of being like me and having to go back. I suspect as quickly as I became immersed in this magical world, that probably would have happened even sooner if I was already familiar with the setting and characters.