In hindsight, this book should have made me realize exactly what sort of book series I was getting into. About double the length (?) of the first outing in the Dead Djinn universe and with correspondingly longer to nail down the tone, I definitely was too caught up in the ride to realize that I’d mischaracterized the series (to everyone I talked to about it) (which is everyone. I cannot keep my mouth shut about books I’m reading).
To be clear–I’m not saying I dislike this book, or the next in the series. It’s hard to summarize the world (an alternate turn-of-the-20th-century Cairo where, some 50 years prior, a magician opened a portal between our world and the world of the djinn as understood by Muslim cultures, such that Egypt in particular became a steampunk world power and other colonized countries have started to overthrow their oppressors as well) but pretty easy to summarize the main plots (mysteries with a touch of magic).
In this outing, we’re introduced to two new agents of the
Spooky Boys Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities–this time, two men who are confronted by, well, a haunted tram car. Except that it’s actually haunted, in some way, because as mentioned this is a world of djinn and magic and steampunk AI. While the A plot is straightforward (make tram not haunted) the various subplots is where Clark really shines. We see our favorites again (Fatma, Siti) and learn about how vast the changes brought upon by al-Jahiz’s universe connecting–it’s not just Egypt and djinn. It’s any country with any sort of fae/creatures of spirit culture, and each has its own world.
It definitely made me want to read the next one immediately (even if it took me a while to get through this one because I was always so tired)