I continue to have a really good time with these audiobooks. I loved Suehyla El-Attar’s narration—even though she mispronounces some words, which would normally make me lose it, but that’s how much I love her voice—it’s so melodious it squashes my inner pedant.
We’re back with Fatma el-Sha’arawi—agent of the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities—in this first full novel (the first two were novellas) in this alternate-history, fantastical version of 1912 Cairo. Decades previously, a man named Al-Jahiz opened a portal that let magic and magical creatures back into the world, and this altered things mostly for the better for Egypt and the world (less colonialism, more women’s rights on a faster timeline). Then Al-Jahiz disappeared, and no one knows what happened to him. Now, a secret supernatural society that revered Al-Jahiz has been brutally and magically murdered, and the man claiming to have done it also claims to be Al-Jahiz returned. It’s Fatma and her new partner’s job to investigate, and save the world. Again.
This book is part urban fantasy, part mystery, part alternate-history (the alternate possible origins of World War I were particularly of interest to me, and that’s a central plot point, as Egypt is hosting peace talks, and Kaiser Wilhelm is a secondary character even! With a fantastical sidekick, who I thought was a great touch.) I actually thought the mystery elements of this were the weakest and least interesting. THere just didn’t seem to be much detecting going on, and I was able to figure it out (including the surprise plot twist that (view spoiler)). But once the urban fantasy plot really got going it didn’t seem to matter that how we got there wasn’t the strongest, and I thought what Clark did with the ending and the villains was really interesting and unique.
Would still highly recommend this whole series, and really hope it does well enough that there will continue to be more books.