A Master of Djinn

, #1

eBook, 416 pages

English language

Published May 10, 2021 by Little, Brown Book Group.

4 stars (73 reviews)

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 fifty 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 a familiar person from her past, Agent Fatma must unravel the mystery behind this imposter to restore peace to the city - or face the possibility …

8 editions

reviewed A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark (Dead Djinn Universe, #1)

Fantastic fantasy plot in an emancipated Egypt in 1912

4 stars

This debut novel is by P. Djeli Clark, which is the pen name of Dexter Gabriel (born 1971), an American speculative fiction writer and historian at the University of Connecticut. I liked it alot and really thought for a long time it was written by a female author, actually.

Because the story is about a female investigator of magical crimes in an Egypt that is a world power due to the discovery of Djinn and other magical beings a couple of years before. The year is 1912, and the representatives of Europe and the world are meeting in Cairo to prevent an impending global conflict at a peace conference.

Just at this moment, a charlatan appears and pretends to be the late discoverer of the djinns and magic and all, who died at the time after discovering and opening the portal to the Djinn world. And our female protagonist Fatma …

reviewed A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark (Dead Djinn Universe, #1)

Wonderful steampunk novel, where Egypt (with the help of Djinn) are a world power

5 stars

An excellent read that immerses the reader in a steampunk and magical alternative world set in the early 20th century, where djinns and other magical creatures exist in Egypt and the rest of the world. This was made possible when a mysterious mystic named al-Jahiz broke the barrier between our world and the magical one. This allowed Egypt to resist European colonization (with the help of djinn) and to become a world power.

Into this world steps Fatma el-Sha’arawi, who works at the Egyptian Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities. She helped save Egypt (and the world) from being taken over by ancient beings from another world in a previous tale ("A Dead Djinn in Cairo"). In this story, she starts with an investigation into the mysterious deaths of a secret brotherhood group that would lead her to confront a person with immense magical powers who claim to be …

reviewed A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark (Dead Djinn Universe, #1)

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.

reviewed A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark (Dead Djinn Universe, #1)

Gumshoes in steampunk Egypt

4 stars

Agent Fatma is called to investigate the deaths of all members of a secret society, and assigned a new young partner, the latest woman in an organization that is overwhelmingly male. So a bit of old-cop, new-cop, plays out throughout the story, where Fatma learns to trust her partner.

There’s plenty of sluething and subterfuge at play in this book, with a fantasy, sci-fi, and whodunit mashup. Clark keeps the pages turning, with occasional head-scratchers. For instance, why does Fatma routinely make mistakes in how she conducts her work with Djinn, when that’s her job?

However, the general grist of the story is strong, the characters are engaging, and the surprises are truly surprising. I recommend it.

reviewed A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark (Dead Djinn Universe, #1)

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 …

reviewed A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark (Dead Djinn Universe, #1)

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

reviewed A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark (Dead Djinn Universe, #1)

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 …

reviewed A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark (Dead Djinn Universe, #1)

Wonderful steampunk novel, where Egypt (with the help of Djinn) are a world power

5 stars

An excellent read that immerses the reader in a steampunk and magical alternative world set in the early 20th century, where djinns and other magical creatures exist in Egypt and the rest of the world. This was made possible when a mysterious mystic named al-Jahiz broke the barrier between our world and the magical one. This allowed Egypt to resist European colonization (with the help of djinn) and to become a world power.

Into this world steps Fatma el-Sha’arawi, who works at the Egyptian Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities. She helped save Egypt (and the world) from being taken over by ancient beings from another world in a previous tale ("A Dead Djinn in Cairo"). In this story, she starts with an investigation into the mysterious deaths of a secret brotherhood group that would lead her to confront a person with immense magical powers who claim to be …

reviewed A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark (Dead Djinn Universe, #1)

Review of 'A Master of Djinn' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

I can’t quite justify four stars. It didn’t quite meet the expectations I have after reading the prequel stories. It did eventually come around to some ideas I really enjoyed but a long stretch of it started to feel like a lot of other stories I’ve read before and I definitely felt bored for probably about half the book. It’s still worth reading. The ending makes up for some of the earlier weaknesses. Still, I struggled more than I would have liked.

Review of 'A Master of Djinn' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

Since I first read A Dead Djinn in Cairo I have just wanted more of this universe, and The Haunting of Tram Car 015 delivered another taster, so I was so ready for this full length novel and it was everything I’d wanted from the shorter stories.

If you are new to the series, A Master of Djinn is set in an alternate Egypt in 1912. The djinn and their magic helped Egypt claim independence from the British Empire and have forged ahead in technology and social progress. It’s a little bit steam punky, with magical trams and boilerplate eunuchs, a kind of automaton with a degree of sentience.

Agent Fatma investigates cases associated with the djinn or other supernatural entities. She wears men’s suits and has a kick-ass girlfriend called Siti, who might just be more than she seems. I liked how this story weaves in different beliefs, adding …

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