A Dead Djinn in Cairo (Fatma el-Sha’arawi, #1) by P. Djèlí Clark - Book Review

Write on: Sat, 19 Dec 2020 by  in Assaph's Reviews Read 2123

I previously enjoyed Djèlí Clark's "The Haunting of Tram Car 015", so was looking forward to more stories set in the same world.

What to Expect

This story establishes the world, but many of the same elements as from Tram Car 015 are explained in either story. The stories are short and interesting enough for this not to be repetitive, and essentially - since they involve two different cases with different agents, it doesn't matter which you read first.

In short, it's a Steampunk-ish world, where in the early 20th century Egypt - after releasing magic in the mid 19th century - has risen to a world power and ousted Britain from interfering in its affairs. The story itself focuses on agents of the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments, and Supernatural Entities -- this time dealing with an apparent suicide of a djinn. This story has some slightly more other-worldly, darker overtones, with grander conspiracies rather than a more "local" haunting.

What I liked

I love Djèlí Clark's prose, very clean, flowing, and engaging. The world-building it top-notch original, with an excellent mix of alternate-history, mad-science, and magic. A perfect blend, and a strong author-voice to carry them through.

What to be aware of

My only quibble is that it's a very short novelette! I want more -- which luckily is due to come next year.

Felix's Review

Felix had his own clashes with official government agencies trying to control magic and with well-meaning women who meddle in darker arts. He was (cynically) happy to see that the combination didn't end up in disaster.


Highly recommended reads! Both this novelette and other other novella won many accolades, and they are well-deserved. Read both, and jump on the full novel when it comes out.

Enjoying the reviews, but wondering who the heck is that Felix fellow? Glad you asked! He's the protagonist of the Toags, Daggers, and Magic series, an historical-fantasy blend of a paranormal detective on the background of ancient Rome.

Last modified on Saturday, 19 December 2020 02:12

Assaph has been a bibliophile since he learnt to read at the age of five, and a Romanophile ever since he first got his hands on Asterix, way back in elementary school. This exacerbated when his parents took him on a trip to Rome and Italy - he whinged horribly when they dragged him to "yet another church with baby angels on the ceiling", yet was happy to skip all day around ancient ruins and museums for Etruscan art. 

He has since been feeding his addiction for books with stories of mystery and fantasy of all kinds. A few years ago he randomly picked a copy of a Lindsay Davis' Marcus Didius Falco novel in a used book fair, and fell in love with Rome all over again, this time from the view-point of a cynical adult. His main influences in writing are Steven Saylor, Lindsey Davis, Barry Hughart and Boris Akunin. 

Assaph now lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife, kids, cats, and - this being Australia - assorted spiders. By day he is a software product manager, bridging the gap between developers and users, and by night he's writing - he seems to do his best writing after midnight.



Twitter: @assaphmehr