A Master of Djinn

Tor.com. May 2021. 400p. ISBN 9781250267689. $27.99. FANTASY
In 1912, Cairo dealt with its share of supernatural issues, and now magical and mundane beings live together in relative peace. But now members of a secret Brotherhood devoted to al-Jahziz, the man who ripped open the veil between the magical entities and mankind, are murdered, with al-Jahziz himself laying claim and condemning the oppression in the current world. When Fatma el-Sha’arawi is brought in to investigate, she is sure that the person is an impostor, and she applies her skills as an agent of the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities to solve the murders. However, Fatma has her own challenges, with a new, unwanted partner and a past entanglement becoming more solidly involved. Fatma must find a way to stop the unrest from spilling beyond Cairo’s borders and (hopefully) save the world once again from magical destruction. The fantastical worldbuilding highlights the thematic issues of colonialism, spirituality, and race relations, while Clark’s prose provides a cinematic lens to issues of gender and class viewed through Agent Fatma’s investigations and relationships.
VERDICT Although the book is marketed as Clark’s debut novel, readers have been following him for several years (Ring Shout is an LJ 2020 Best Book) and this work builds upon his alternate history Cairo, bringing together several enjoyable characters in a richly detailed, action-packed novel.
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