Like quite a few people at this point (enough that Tor published a full-length novel), I’m enchanted by the world Clark has created in this series, which so far consists of this novella and a short story, as well as the novel (that I’ll be getting to next month). There’s something special about the atmosphere Clark creates when he’s writing about 1912 alt-history Cairo, not to mention he’s pretty great with characters (I liked both Hamed and Fatma as narrators, and both stories have great audio productions as well). I would looooove to see this as a high quality animated series.
This is a world where magical beings like djinn live and work alongside humans. They entered the world about fifty years before, sharply diverging it from ours. They helped liberate Egypt from colonialism, for starters, and they seem to be big on equal rights for all beings, which means that things like women getting the vote (a subplot here) and entering the workforce happened a lot earlier. Both stories so far have focused on agents of the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, which helps mediate between the human world and the world of magic. What gets the plot going is that a tram car seems to be haunted; it’s a pretty straightforward title, here. Agent Hamed is teamed with newby agent Onsi, and they jaunt all over Cairo trying to figure out how to get this mysterious being out of the tram car.
What impresses me most about these books is how easily the world of the book springs to life in my mind. The way he creates the world with a truly small amount of page-time is so interesting. I can’t wait to see what he does with a full novel, and some room to really go for it.
CBR BINGO: Cityscape (Cairo)