Genre : Fantasy
Publisher : Tordotcom
Length : 396 pages
Format : eARC
Rating : 4 stars
Publication Date: May 11th 2021
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…
Fatma el-Sha’arawi might be the youngest woman working for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantment and Supernatural Entities but, she’s a celebrity among her peers. She’s known for her impeccable taste in fashion – no one is ever going to see her in anything less than an immaculate suit – but, more than her style, a few months ago she prevented the end of the world. It’s no surprise then that when the head of the Al-Jahiz Secret Brotherhood is murdered, Fatma is the one assigned to the case.
I have been raving about the Dead Djinn universe stories for months now and I’m a huge fan of Clark’s works in general – Ring Shout is probably the best horror novella I’ve ever read. So, when I heard that Clark was finally releasing a full-length story set in his alternate 1910’s Cairo, I was beyond excited for it. I wanted more Fatma, more magic and more djinns and Clark delivered.
I don’t think you have to have read A Dead Djinn in Cairo or The Haunting of Tram Car 015 in order to understand this novel but, you definitely should! They’re awesome, super short and they give a ton of context for the novel.
A Master of Djinn beautifully expands on the world, I very much enjoyed how Clark discussed how the magic reshaped the power dynamics in this alternate world. Cairo is now the center of the world and the European countries that used to have a lot of influences over Egypt are now seen as obsolete and very behind. They are more than happy to use the murder of a rich Englishman as an excuse to meddle again in Egypt’s affairs.
The murder mystery was fun even if I guessed who the culprit was pretty early on. If you have read a few of Clark’s stories, you know most characters aren’t who they appear to be at first. When you know that, it’s easier to know who to look at.
The only thing that prevented me from completely loving the book was that it felt like a debut. The pacing dragged, especially in the second act of the book. If some parts had been edited out, then the whole story would have felt more cohesive and less episodic.
However, don’t take my criticism too harshly, I had a great time reading this book. I feel like I am rediscovering my love for series. There is something very comforting in reading a sequel from a series you love. Reading about Clark’s magical Cairo is always a great time, the world is magical and the characters are memorable. I love Fatma (even if she is annoying sometimes), Siti is a complete badass and Hamed is also great in his own ways (though I have to say that my favorites are the djinns, nobody writes about djinns as well as P. Djéli Clark!).
Even if A Master of Djinn wasn’t as immaculate as Fatma’s suits, I enjoyed it a lot and I can’t wait to read more adventures set in this world!
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. My thanks to Netgalley and Tordotcom for the ARC.