A Master of Djinn is phenomenal. At the most basic level it is a very good murder mystery. On top of that it is a fantastic alternate history fantasy. The whipped cream on this sundae of a book is the smart commentary. It is layered, atmospheric, tense, and sharp. The two novellas that came before, A Dead Djinn in Cairo and The Haunting of Tram Car 015 are wonderful in their own right, but utterly necessary as an introduction to Clark’s world.
I love it when a title says something specific about the story. A Master of Djinn centers around whether the mysterious man wreaking havoc in Cairo is actually al-Jahiz, known as The Master of Djinn because he made the door between worlds allowing magic and djinns into our world and changing the course of history, or is it an imposter? A self-proclaimed master of Djinn? How does this al-Jahiz have such control over the formidable Djinn? There are other layers, of course, but I won’t spoil them.
Inspector Fatma el-Sha’arawi is certain that this al-Jahiz is an imposter and works with, among others, her girlfriend, Siti, and her new junior partner, Hadia, to solve a murder, uncover al-Jahiz’ identity, and save the world from destruction.
In Clark’s world, al-Jahiz turned back Europe’s attempts to colonize Africa and Asia by bringing magic back into the world. A Master of Djinn explores the ways in which kicking out the colonizers did not end racism, classism, sexism, or end war for all time. Colonizers still want to colonize. I want more of this world and hope Clark returns to Fatma and her growing family of friends and allies for years to come.
I received this as an advance reader copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.