A Master of Djinn
Dead Djinn Universe #1
By P. Djèlí Clark
Author’s Website: pdjeliclark.com
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Omar
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…
In a Master of Djinn, Agent Fatma el-Sha’arawi’s job at the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities is never boring. After dealing with some young men that tried to bargain some wishes of off a trapped Marid, and it went wrong, Agent Fatma is called upon a murder scene in Giza where a wealthy Englishmen and his secret brotherhood were killed in a strange way.
Lord Alistair Worthington created the Hermetic Brotherhood of Al-Jahiz, the mystic that 40 years ago changed the world when he succeeded with his theory of world spheres and opened a door to the realm of Djinns, returning to this world. After that great event, Al-Jahiz disappeared but the world was never the same. In the following years, Egypt grew in power due to the many Djinns making it their home with the government giving them citizenship. The night of the murder, the order’s secret meeting was crashed into by an individual dressed in black wearing a golden masked, claiming to be Al-Jahiz returned. Instead of rejoicing with his followers, the imposter Al-Jahiz kills them with fire that only burns their flesh but not their clothes.
As Agent Fatma and her new partner try to find who killed the Brotherhood, they learn of the imposter of Al-Jahiz who is performing greater acts of magic. But after a couple of encounters with the imposter, Agent Fatma comes to the conclusion that the imposter is controlling Djinns, something nobody should be able to do.
Now the agents of the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities and the Egyptian police are running out of time to solve the mystery of who the imposter truly is and how he is controlling Djinns.
I like this world of a Dead Djinn Universe series. It is a great blend of alternate timeline with magic and entities that live among humans. At first, as a reader, the story gives the impression that Djinns are the only supernatural creatures that walked among the humans, but as we continue to read the story we meet with followers of old gods, angels, ghouls, and even goblins. It seems that the great event that Al-Jahiz made not only brought back the Djinns but also gave other creatures the opportunity to pop-up in the world.
Agent Fatma became my favorite character in the series. While being the youngest member of the Ministry, she is still capable of doing her job, and knows how to dress for it. She is smart and understands that the new beings have their place in society and while she might still be learning about them like anybody else, she has an open mind to them and the powers they use. I would like in future stories to know more about her family and past, maybe about her days training to be an agent.
A Master of Djinn was a rich story with many characters. Siti and the new Agent Hadia were a good addition to Fatma’s team. Siti, a believer of the old Gods and maybe Fatma’s girlfriend, had many good scenes in this story and helped in many battles with her metal claws. Agent Hadia, the second woman agent in the Ministry office of Cairo, had a good time in her first case. While at first Fatma was not happy with having a partner, she comes to realize that she needs help from time to time and Hadia can protect herself and bring support.
The Djinns and Angels are powerful creatures living in this world tend to influence it after they show themselves. I liked the interaction that Agent Fatma had with the Angels, across the story a previous interaction between Agent Fatma and an Angel is mentioned, which tried to destroy the world. I would like to know more about what the Angels are hiding and who they truly are.
Al-Jahiz is a very interesting character, the legends about his deeds and his disappearance are the best. While there is an imposter, it was nice to have learned a bit of the history about him and how he is compared to other mystics of the past. I hope we are able to meet him in future works or at least know what happened to him, and why he opened the door for magic and the Djinns to return.
I liked A Master of Djinn. There are other short stories from anthologies that look interesting and I’m going to read them in the meantime as I hope we get future books in this series.
If you are a fan of P. Djèlí Clark and his work, then I recommend you, A Master of Djinn. In this similar but strange world, there is magic, beings of immense power, and it’s the job of Agent Fatma and the Ministry to uphold the law and keep everyone safe, as many individuals seek to control the world.