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 fifty 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 a familiar person from her past, 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 . . .
A Master of Djinn follows from events of the novella A Dead Djinn in Cairo with the protagonist again being Agent Fatma and joined now by next female agent in Cairo Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, an initially unwanted partner in Agent Haida.
The case the two women are tested against is a deaths of a group of English society men worshipping the semi-legendary magician called Al-Jahiz – famous for allowing the djinn back into the world. But why holy man and supernatural leader would burn a group of socialites to death seems unfathomable. Agent Fatma and Haida don’t believe this returned Al-Jahiz is anything but imposter stirring chaos and resentment in Cairo against the English.
As Fatima and Haida investigate deeper, the dangers around them continue to mount until they must join with the supernatural entity Sitii to face the incredibly powerful Al-Jahiz who commands real power to force all djinn to his will.
P. Djéli Clark delivers a fascinating alternate history of Egypt and European nations circa 1912. The storytelling feels fresh and invigorating and the degree of detail in the complex communities of Cairo and all those who have migrated to earn their fortunes. Sometimes the plot felt as though it had wandered off track into extraneous details and others it didn’t quite seem to answer key questions clearly. Despite that, Clark writes a fabulous and highly unique story with some truly individual characters.
A fast-paced supernatural thriller, alternate history and steampunk read. Highly recommended!!