Ever since discovering Clark’s work with Ringshout and other novellas I’ve been looking forward to this full length novel! And what a debut novel – it mixes fantasy with steampunk with murder! What could be a better combo? Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
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….
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
In A Master of Djinn I was swept away from the beginning. Talk about an action packed murder mystery with plenty of the supernatural. The setting is one of the most atmospheric, descriptive, and immersive of my recent fantasy reads. It has a lived in feel and while there are so many revelations – and promising dark corners – it never feels incomplete or shallow. There’s always this intriguing hint of more, of a past before the pages. While this could be read alone, do yourself the favor and read The Haunting of Tram Car at least!
A Master of Djinn was a delightful surprise from start to finish. Featuring a well dressed queer woman of color, my heart was smitten. Not only did this murder adventure feature a sapphic romance, it also featured a lone wolf type who needs to learn to play nice with others. Talk about giving me all the vibes I love from these crime media – I love that brilliant and renowned detective who is stuck with a partner.
So to recap, you give me a wonderful fantasy world and pair it with a main character whose closet I need to steal and a favorite trope? I was in love pretty early on. Especially as Fatma, and her friends, are not afraid to break a few eggs – i.e. racist old money types. Okay, no one really gets broken like eggs, but you know what I mean. Action wise, the plot kind of just explodes in color and scope as the book continues. I can’t spoil, because I’m not that chaotic, but the amount of world building care as the world expands is fantastic.
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I get the same feeling after finishing any piece of fiction from Clark where I would read 100 books in this universe. You know, if anyone in publishing wants to take my money.