Hardcover, 400 pages

English language

Published May 10, 2021 by Tor.


View on OpenLibrary

4 stars (7 reviews)

Nebula, Locus, and Alex Award-winner P. Djèlí Clark returns to his popular alternate Cairo universe 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 …

6 editions

Perfect to read on a boat in Egypt

4 stars

I read two shorter works set in the same universe first, so I knew what to expect, more or less. As a mystery novel, the book is good, but maybe a bit less surprising than the author intended. I did really enjoy the setting, perhaps because I was somewhere where I could hear Arabic spoken all around me. And of course anything that makes fun of the (fallen) British Empire has my sympathies.

Inspired world-building, excellent murder mystery set in an alternate djinn-punk Cairo

5 stars

As others have noted, this is an alternate steampunk universe set in the 1910's. A world changed by a single man piercing the veil, and bringing Djinn and magic back into our world. Since that happened about 40 years ago, the djinn have transformed Cairo with their amazing mechanical creations, including robots, flying gliders and trams, and mechanical brains in buildings.

The main character, Fatma, is a respected, if youngest female, investigator in the Ministry of Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities. She is definitely a maverick, dressing in suits, hats, and carrying a sword cane.

The descriptions of clothing and locations feed the imagination, breathing life into the world and putting it all in your mind's eye. The gradually revealing of the consequences of the mass murder in a secret brotherhood in honor of al-Jahiz, the man who brought back magic to the world, is gripping. The impostor …

An Arabian steampunk fantasy mystery

4 stars

This was quite an enjoyable book and a fascinating world to explore. It has been a long time since I read any steampunk and this falls very much in that category. The Egyptian setting was excellent and makes me want to read even more in this universe. There are allusions to other adventures between Fatma and Siti so there is more out there to explore.

For a full review, check out my blog: strakul.blogspot.com/2022/06/book-review-master-of-djinn-by-djeli.html

It's fine

2 stars

As much as I wanted to, I didn't find this book very compelling. I certainly like the notion of a fantasy-ish story that takes place somewhere other than London or NYC, but that wasn't really enough for me. The plot gets bogged down in endless explanations -- basically with every introduction of a new tool, location, creature, character, etc, instead of showing us the thing, the author just tells about the thing. The dialogue drags and is repetitive. The concept of the plot has a lot of potential, but in execution it is extremely predictable, especially for a book that purports to be a mystery. The book is vaguely anti-colonial, and the gender politics are certainly interesting, but at the same time it's really falls into traditional genre tropes and in a lot of ways it buys into the accepted structure of western/colonial politics. I almost put it down several …

avatar for mttktz@bookwyrm.social

rated it

4 stars