The Master was less fun than the Acolytes

A Master of Djinn (Dead Djinn Universe, #1)
by P. Djèlí Clark

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Fatma, Siti and Hamed are back. Promising start with likable characters, but a very slow plot. It took me two weeks to make it a third into the story, with several days of not wanting to pick it up. I thought it was me and was disappointed that this wasn‘t a fun rollercoaster ride, sweeping me along. I almost abandoned it, but instead skimmed through the denser passages in the middle to make some progress. Less filler would have been good. 

For example the convention in the middle with all those dignitaries served no real purpose. It added to the complexity of the world, but it did not really bring the plot forward or could have happened as a shorter scene. Maybe Clark had another short story/novelette in his hand and blew it up to novel length by expanding the word count, without actually adding significantly to the story?

I did like the development of Siti a lot. Fatma felt a little more one-dimensional than previously and Hamed and Onsi sadly where only small side characters. Nonetheless it was fun to encounter them again.

I liked the last part of the book, so if I disregard the middle, this was a good book. The Djinn are complex, multi-faceted and definitely not one-dimensional. It‘s nice that even the bad guys have personalities and are not just victims of circumstance. Still, this book was nowhere nearly as good and entertaining as the prequel stories.

You can definitely read this as a stand-alone novel, but for more enjoyment I recommend to first read the two novelettes and the short story that came before this:

Dead Djinn in Cairo: Goodreads review | WordPress review

The Angel of Khan el Khalili: Goodreads review | WordPress review

The Haunting of Tram Car 015: Goodreads review | WordPress review

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This is part of my #ReadBIPOC2021 challenge (entry for June).

I received this free e-copy from the publisher/author via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review, thank you!

First Line Friday — Space, Egypt and New York…

First Line Friday is a meme created by Hoarding Books. Feel free to head over there, have a look around, grab your nearest book and post its first line in the comments there and in your blog.


I have three buddy reads planned for June.

The Left Hand of Darkness
by Ursula K. Le Guin

I’LL MAKE MY REPORT AS IF I TOLD A STORY, FOR I WAS taught as a child on my homeworld that Truth is a matter of the imagination.

First line

I started this four days ago and have managed the first three chapters, which brought me to page 53. It’s not doing much for me so far. I spent yesterday reading fanfiction rather than continuing this.

The writing is good, but the style is not engaging me. It‘s probably also not quite what I was expecting. I read the blurb and thought „genderless society, lots of commentary and exploration about their personal interactions and divergence compared to our society“, but so far I only met guys talking politics. And the main character, who I thought was an ambassador, comes across as someone mostly not really interested in what is going on. Odd.

Ok, maybe I should have expected something slow and not obvious, considering that this was first published in 1969. So far this reminds me of Foreigner, which was also a book of only middling success for me. I will read something else and then return to this later this month.

Next up, I guess, is this:

One Last Stop (Kindle Edition)
by Casey McQuiston

SEEKING YOUNG SINGLE ROOMMATE FOR 3BR APARTMENT UPSTAIRS, 6TH FLOOR. $700/MO. MUST BE QUEER & TRANS FRIENDLY. MUST NOT BE AFRAID OF FIRE OR DOGS. NO LIBRAS, WE ALREADY HAVE ONE. CALL NIKO.

Header above chapter 1

I just read the first two pages and this sounds like a much better read for my long weekend, sitting on my balcony with a cold glass of white wine… it also fits well into this LGBTQ+ and Pride Month.

Last but not least I will read:

A Master of Djinn (Dead Djinn, #1)
by P. Djèlí Clark

Fatma blinked at the tirade. Of all the djinn these two had to go and wake up, it had to be a bigot.

From the teaser posted at the beginning

Oh, this will be fun! I just had a peek at the first page and then had to forcibly remove myself from the book a page or two later, to finish this post. Promising! And not looking good for Ursula Le Guin…

Perilous public transport

The Haunting of Tram Car 015
by P. Djèlí Clark

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The third novelette set in Clark‘s alternate Cairo of 1912, full of Djinn, ghuls and mechanized angels. I was looking forward to meeting Fatma from A Dead Djinn in Cairo again. Instead we are introduced to Agent Hamed of the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, his new sidekick, rookie Onsi and a haunted tram car…

My favourite scene was the moment when they arrive at the top of Ramses Station and get a view of airships, various dirigibles and those tram lines criss-crossing the sky above Cairo. Great visual. The scenery in general is a great mix of the old Cairo and Clark‘s imagined steampunk city anyway.

The investigative story is a good one, too. Although it slacks off somewhat in the middle. Still good, but the beginning and build-up were stronger storytelling than the climax of it all.

Good characterizations, also for the supporting characters. There is some gender ambiguity there as well and a sentient automata, so plenty of material to expand upon in the upcoming book. I wonder if we will meet some of them again in A Master of Djinn?

Magical Egypt

A Dead Djinn in Cairo (Dead Djinn, #0.5)
by P. Djèlí Clark

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Egypt, Cairo, Djinn, ghuls, sorcerers, magic, airships, gas light, aerial trams… steampunk plus electricity. An investigator looks into the suspicious death of a djinn and follows traces through a magical Cairo.

“Fatma was born into the world al-Jahiz left behind: a world transformed by magic and the supernatural. […] Egypt now sat as one of the great powers, and Cairo was its beating heart.“

https://www.tor.com/2016/05/18/a-dead-djinn-in-cairo/

The setting of this story made me home-sick for Cairo! Or whatever you call it for a city I lived in for six years… 

This was fun! Plot driven, not much character development — not an easy task anyway for such a short novelette — although I did like Fatma. Good action scenes and sleuthing, interesting setting. Potential for a lot more. Onwards to the next two stories/novelettes, in preparation for reading Clark’s first full-length novel next month.