Fantasy, Science Fiction

Review: A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark

Thank you to Orbit books for a physical ARC in exchange for my honest review!

I cannot tell you how blessed I feel to have received a copy of this novel. I’ve been meaning to read some of Clark’s work for a while now, and this was the perfect opportunity!

A Master of Djinn (Dead Djinn, #1) book cover

A Master of Djinn (Dead Djinn, #1)

by P. Djèlí Clark

Published April 11, 2021 by Orbit Books
Series: Dead Djinn Universe
ISBN: 0356516881

Data from Goodreads

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….

My Review: Interesting And Imaginative

Rep: LGBTQIA+, POC rep

This novel was not what I expected – and I mean that in the best way possible. It was so unique and I really enjoyed reading it!

The Pros: What Woked for Me

  • I loved the steampunk/crime noir vibes that were present in this story. It gave everything an amazing gritty edge!
  • The entire story had great pacing, with a good blend of action and worldbuilding. I really liked the balance of sarcasm, humor, and suspense throughout this novel.
  • The plot was really engaging and I loved the fantasy elements in the story; this brought the uniqueness I was looking for!
  • I adored Siti and Hadia – they were both spunky female characters that showed strength and independence in their own way.

The Cons: What I Didn’t Like

  • Prior to reading this novel, I was unaware that there had been previous novellas written by the author that were set in this same world. This led to many mentions of previous cases that I didn’t know anything about and I found the referencing frustrating; it made me feel like I was reading the second book in a series rather than a debut.
  • There were elements of the worldbuilding that didn’t have as much detail as I would have liked; even if this could be found in the novellas, I wish it had been strong here, too.
  • I wanted Fatma’s character to be more developed – I never really got a sense of her personality. Again, this may be because this had been addressed in the novellas but for a first-time reader, it would have been appreciated to know more about Fatma in this story.
  • At times, the sentence structure was odd – with many unfinished and abrupt sentences. This would have been fine if it was limited to conversations but it was present in the narrative bits of the story, too.

All in all, I enjoyed this immersive fantasy, with its unique worldbuilding and crime noir vibes. I will definitely be checking out the novellas relating to this story so that I can have a better understanding of this world. In the meantime, I’m giving this novel a solid 3/5 stars and I’m looking forward to reading more by this author!

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