Hello everyone! I hope that you all are safe and happy and that your December started in the best possible way!
Thanks to NetGalley and to the Editor. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Title: A Master of Djinn
Series: Dead Djinn Universe #1
Author: P. Djeli Clark
Page Count: 396
Publication Date: May 11th, 2021
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….
I don’t really know how to start this review, because it is a bit complicated. On one hand, I enjoyed this book, there are a lot of good things going for it, but on the other hand, I was expecting more and there are some things that could have been done better.
One of the best things about the book is world-building. It is rich, it is imaginative, and exploring it is always a pleasure. And it is so vivid and alive! The characters eat and drink often and this book made me hungry a lot even if, more often than not, I didn’t understand what they were eating! So this is something, right? And the steam-punk parts are interesting, the author did a good job mixing these elements with magical creatures like djinns and angels.
And the book is also well-paced, and the story flew by smooth enough.
But talking about the story we have some hiccups or some not-so-amazing things. The plot is mainly a detective story with some other aspects through in there. We have some social issues thrown in the mix, for example, but they are not so well developed as I was hoping. They are as much developed as in the short stories I have read by this author and the problem is that if in the short story was a good development, because of the short length of it, in this full-length novel it could have taken up more space. And it didn’t. This was a bit of a shame because we have a lot going on: the demands for equality between genders, for example, or the different ethnicities and their impact on society, and the peace treaty between a lot of Nations (to be honest, the peace treaty was somehow thrown in there without real importance for the story. There is a reason but it is a feebly one, and the book could have done without, but it offers us a glimpse outside of Egypt borders, and I enjoyed it). But even if we have some important themes they are just thrown in there and it is not given them a lot of importance.
And we have the detective story per se. But again, it wasn’t really so well developed. For once, I guessed who the culprit was way way before the detectives because it was really just there. Usually, I am not one to know who the culprit is in advance, because I let myself be distracted by all the shiny things in the book (and we have a lot of interesting and hence distracting things in there) and I don’t really think a lot about the clues, and then there is the fact that I don’t really trust the author. I know this sounds silly, but more often than not when I am reading a thriller (or a mystery) and the author shows us a chapter by the killer’s POV that reveals to us who the killer is I usually doubt it because I kept asking myself “and what if this is just a way to mislead us?” and so I go back and forth believing and disbelieving it. I know that maybe there is no hope for me but it is so.
Hence, it is highly unusual for me to guess right, but sometimes it happens all the same and I am quite happy about it because it feels good to be right! But sometimes, and this is the case, I guess right because you simply cannot guess wrong. And this is not so good. Especially more so because you are just there waiting for the detectives to finally catch up because things are getting boring. Sometimes it is just like they don’t want to see what is there in their face. And, last but not least, a great part of the story strongly resembles the plot of A Dead Djinn in Cairo.
So yeah, I enjoyed the reading, and as a whole I enjoyed Fatma, (even if I hoped for something more about her, in the short story about her she is more alive and more complex, here she seems a bit plain) and I really enjoyed her growing relationship with Hadia. I really hope to see her around because she has a lot of potentials. And it was good to see the policemen around, too. And it was an enjoyable book. But I was expecting more, and the plot is not the strongest suit in there.
What about you? Have you read this book? Or the short stories set in this Universe?? Let me know!!!