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Review: A Master of Djinn

A Master of Djinn

Title: A Master of Djinn
Author: P. Djèlí Clark
Genre: Fantasy, Steampunk, Science Fiction
Page Count: 400
Published by: Tordotcom
Date Published: May 11, 2021
You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Goodreads Synopsis:

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….

Overall Thoughts:

100%, you will enjoy this more if you read at least one of the mini novella’s that predate this release (you can find them easily and for free). I, however, learned about A Dead Djinn in Cairo and The Haunting of Tram Car 015 well into reading this story. Admittedly, it therefore took me a long time to sink into A Master of Djinn and it was frustratingly confusing when events/characters were referenced from these prior novellas … especially since this is marketed as the FIRST book in the Fatma el-Sha’arawi series! 

Aside from the frustrating drawbacks of “playing catchup”, this was a really entertaining read. Full of surprisingly snarky, slapstick humour, a unique steampunk take of Cairo 1920, a world where Djinn walk among humans, and just an all-around fantastic leading lady detective. The queer romance is well developed, central to the plot, and features two equally strong, complicated women.

A Master of Djinn is an entertaining, all around fun read that while the author does bog down the narrative with some information dumps, it still remains lighthearted and approachable mythological fantasy. Come for the alternate steampunk take of 1920s Cairo and stay for the strong female characters, crafty imagination, slapstick humour, and the most fantastic mentor/rookie relationship ever. I definitely want detective Fatma el-Sha’arawi in my squad! 

Read This If: 

  • Love mythological reads centring around Djinn (and are maybe feeling lost after finishing The City of Brass series.) 
  • Are looking for a well developed queer relationship featuring strong female characters.
  • Have a soft spot for mentor/rookie story arcs.
  • Need to know more about the cantankerous Rhinoceros-esque librarian Djinn with pale lavender skin and golden horns striped in amethyst who guards an epic, immense collection of ancient books … I mean, come on. 

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