A master of Djinn by P. Djeli Clark
Winner of the Nebula Award for best novel and Locus Award for Best First novel, P. Djeli Clark takes the reader to 1912 Cairo, where Egypt has tossed off British colonial rule with the help of the Djinn. Fatma el-Sha’arawi works for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, and when all the members of a secret society dedicated to al-Jahiz are murdered she is chosen to work on the case. The murderer claims to be al-Jahiz himself back to right the wrongs in society and together with her girlfriend Siti, Fatma must trace what is happening before unrest erupts on the city streets.
The author’s world building is vivid and believable. It is easy to imagine this alternate historical/fantasy world as Fatma goes about the business of investigating the murders. The street scenes, the food and the people are brought to life while the steam-punk boiler eunuchs and clockwork machines add a fascinating touch.
Fatma is a great character, always dressed to the nines in fabulous suits. She is intelligent and curious, desperately trying to work out if al-Jahiz is an imposter – or the real thing. Siti and her skills are a good match for Fatma’s intelligence and Fatma’s sidekick brings some challenging ideas about the role of women in the Ministry.
It is easy to see why P. Djeli Clark has won awards with A master of djinn. The combination of unique world building, fabulous characters, action galore and a mystery to solve makes for riveting reading.
Themes: Fanasy, Mystery, Cairo, Djinns.