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Fantasy and murder mysteries are my favourite kinda books to read. A book with both and with a badass detective to boot is exactly what I didn’t know I needed until I read it. From the very beginning A Master of Djinn by P Djèlì Clark kept me glued to the pages and reminded me just why exactly I love to read.
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 oppression. 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….
In a nutshell…..
- 1920s, alternate Cairo where Egypt is a world super power
- A steampunk/urban fantasy world with magical creatures
- Magical murder mystery with a charismatic detective and her assassin girlfriend
- A mass murderer on the loose
- One hundred percent fun!!!!!
In a word this book was Fun with a capital F.
A steam punk/urban fantasy with a murder mystery set in an alternate universe where colonization efforts of the European countries have been brought to a standstill with the help of Djinns and Angels? That itself was enough to get me hook, line and sinker into this book.
We follow Fatma el-Sha’arawi investigator extraordinaire for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities in Cairo, trying to catch a mass murderer who claims to be Al-Jahiz, the master of Djinns who opened the portal that introduced other worldly creatures into Earth and managed to change the entire sociopolitical structure of the world. She’s assisted in this endeavor by her mysterious assassin girlfriend Siti and her newly appointed partner Hadia.
Let me start by telling you how madly entertaining this whole read was. I wasn’t bored for even a moment and as soon as the book ended I was left wanting more and more and more of this amazing world and these characters.
“Why do these colonizers always claim what isn’t theirs?”
Clark does a brilliant job of creating an immersive, vivid and magical world that’s on the cusp of modernity while also incorporating the sociopolitical setup of the early 1920s turned on its head. He handles the suffragette movement, colourism, racism and other prejudices prevalent in the community with a deft hand and seamlessly weaves it into the narration thereby making the story more riveting.
My next favourite element were the characters who have become my all time favourites! They were soooo magnetic and charismatic but also layered with flaws of their own. It made them feel all the more real. Fatma, Siti and Hadia are my absolute favourite badass heroines of all time and I cannot wait to read more of their adventures.
“The three of them sat there – A Ministry agent, a half-djinn, and a cat (likely), staring out past the balcony to the sleeping city they somehow had to find a way to save.”
Now was this book perfect? Objectively, no. It had some pacing issues, a few places were the story meandered a bit and there were definitely some loose ends to be tied up. But you know what? I don’t care. For me, subjectively, this book was perfect. I didn’t want it to end, I didn’t want to leave this world, I just wanted to keep on reading and that’s what a 5 star read is. So yeah, this gets the full five stars and more from me and I cannot recommend it enough.
Thank you Netgalley and Orbit Books UK for providing me an e-arc in exchange for an honest review
P.S for those who are planning to pick this up (you better be picking this up) please make sure to read the prequel novellas and short stories as some of the world building and character intros are done there and they will definitely enhance your reading experience
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You will love A Master of Djinn if you enjoyed:
- City of Brass by S A Chakraborty
- Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
- The Guild Codex Series by Annette Marie
Let’s Catch Up..
So tell me, have you guys read this book? Planning to read this? I need more books in this genre. So any great fantasy murder mystery recs? Comment below and let me know.Follow Books with Anjali on WordPress.com