A Master of Djinn, by P. Djèlí Clark, was a completely enchanting novel. I was instantly hooked on this adventurous mystery featuring Fatma el-Sha’arawi, of Cairo’s Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities. Decades before the novel opens, a mysterious sorcerer connected our world with the world of the djinn. Magic flooded into the world. In 1912, when the story is set, people like Fatma try to keep everything in harmony between the magical and the mundane. I loved everything about this novel: the characters, the setting, the plot. I can’t praise it highly enough.
Note: The narrative makes frequent references to a previously published story. I was able to read A Master of Djinn without it, but I was thrilled to see that Tor republished the story to accompany the publication of the novel. If you’d like to read the story, you can find “The Angel of Khan el-Khalili” on Tor’s site.
Fatma is the kind of person who lives for her job. She rarely has any downtime. (Of course, since most of that downtime is spent in the company of the captivating Siti, Fatma can’t really talk about it with others in the still fairly conservative Cairo.) That little bit of downtime vanishes almost entirely when a group of British men (and one Egyptian woman) are mysteriously murdered. They are burned to death by a fire that didn’t touch anything else. The Ministry is called in to investigate. We know a little bit about what happened because of the prologue, but we have to learn along with Fatma about who did it, why, and how on earth they can capture what appears to be an almost omnipotent opponent.
The action never stops after Fatma arrives at the crime scene. Along with her new partner at the Ministry, Hadia, and Siti, Fatma dives into a case that involves a colonialist secret brotherhood, djinn and angels, intersecting plots, masterful deceptions, and cults that worship the old Egyptian gods. I loved every minute of this book. I don’t want to say too much about it because that would ruin the mystery for other readers. I will say that the mystery element of the story escalated into an incredible climax that had me breathlessly reading until Fatma, Siti, and Hadia found a way to fight fantastically powerful enemies.
Right! That’s it for this review before I give away too much! Go read A Master of Djinn. It is outstanding in every way and I am already looking forward to more historical fantasy/mysteries featuring Fatma, Siti, Hadia, and all of the delightful characters in this imaginative series.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.