Title: A Master of Djinn
Author: P. Djèlí Clark
Series: Dead Djinn Universe
Release Date: 19/8/21
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 52
(see below for breakdown)
I received an advanced physical copy from Orbit in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
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….
Oh this was my type of book through and through. I have spoken time and time again about my love for magical police procedurals and this really does tick all the boxes in that respect. There is just so much going on, so much depth of story, worldbuilding and characterisation that it makes this book difficult to put down.
Lets start with the worldbuilding! It is beyond detailed. Set in an alternate 1910s Cairo it is just jam packed with magic and clockwork. With gorgeous descriptions of the city itself combined with the interesting in intricate magic system. It was so vivid. I really enjoyed the twists on history with Egypt as an international power not annexed by Britain. I loved how much of the culture we got. From various forms of religious practice and worship to fashion, not only of Egypt but the imported fashions such as Jazz and sharp suits from the US. It all came together to paint a really well constructed world that was so easy to get lost in.
I adored the characters. First all of the primary characters are really well written women. They all have such strong yet varied personalities that get their own time to shine in the progress of the story. The Djinn are also fascinating characters building out the world and the magic system while also providing a different dynamic to the population of the world. They add a lot to the alternative history aspects as well. I love the amount of different cultural backgrounds the various characters come from and how much discussion there is around those cultures and faiths play a role in the plot.
The plot is fast paced, twisting and turning. There is a very classic mystery feel to it with a proper parlour scene at the end that really keeps you guessing all the way along. There are engaging twists and reveals all throughout. There is everything from romance to huge fight scenes all of which are thrilling in there own way. I need to pick up the two short stories in this series that are set in this world. I need more from this world and I can not wait to see where this series will go.