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Publisher's Summary

"[Narrator Suehyla] El-Attar expertly creates a vibrant version of Cairo that captures a heady blend of the cosmopolitan and the supernatural that will win many new fans." (AudioFile Magazine)

Nebula, Locus, and Alex Award-winner P. Djèlí Clark returns to his popular alternate Cairo universe for his fantasy novel debut, A Master of Djinn

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 40 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 a familiar person from her past, 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....

A Master of Djinn is poised to launch P. Djèlí Clark’s SFF career to new heights as the highly-anticipated debut listeners are clamoring for.  

Novellas by P. Djèlí Clark
The Black God's Drums
The Haunting of Tram Car 015
Ring Shout

A Macmillan Audio production from Tordotcom

"Listeners will be charmed by dashing, bowler-hat-wearing, janbiya-carrying Fatma el-Sha’arawi in book one of Clark’s Dead Djinn Universe series.... At times wry, often witty, [Suehyla] El-Attar’s delivery is an anchoring force from which a multitude of mortal and mystical characters emerge." (Booklist)

©2021 P. Djèlí Clark (P)2021 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

“A clever, wickedly fun steampunk mystery with an excellent balance of humor and heart. I loved it.” (S. A. Charkaborty, internationally best-selling author of The City of Brass)

“A delightful whodunnit full of sly commentary and a wonderfully lived-in steampunk Cairo. The perfect read when I needed a break from this world to enjoy one wholly made from Clark's enviable imagination.” (Rebecca Roanhorse, Hugo and Nebula Award winner, author of Trail of Lightning and Star Wars: Resistance Reborn)

A Master of Djinn has all the tricky twists I want in a police procedural and all the djinns, magic and wonder I want from fantasy.” (Mary Robinette Kowal, Hugo and Nebula award-winning author of The Calculating Stars

What listeners say about A Master of Djinn

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great stuff

Agent Fatma el-Sha'arawi works with the Egyptian Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments, and Supernatural Entities. She deals with haughty djinns, devious angels, and inept men running the world. And with a possible world-destroying event, but you know, crazy comes with this job.

P. Djèlí Clark's vision of an alternate Cairo is fascinating. In 1872, a man named Al-Jahiz opened a portal to another dimension, allowing magic and magical creatures into our reality. In the years that followed, Egypt became a new power, famous for its wonders of mechanics (like automatic carriages) and magic. England, on the other hand, failed to embrace the new age and is barely an empire anymore. This leads to international friction. Maintaining the delicate balance between world powers becomes tricky when someone claiming to be Al-Jahiz goes on a murderous rampage through Cairo.

I liked the way the author integrated all the components of his story. He lets us learn all about the various historical and current events that distinguish this world from our continuum through casual, off-the-cuff conversations and through Fatma's musings. He gives clear portraits of his characters, including the villains and supernatural beings.

I loved Fatma, one of the Ministry's few female operatives. She is highly competent, smart and independent. She has the drive and determination to succeed, but not at the expense of others. Her interactions with Hadja, a partner she neither wanted nor asked for, and Sati, a mysterious "independent contractor," felt genuine and natural. Their collaboration and relationships aren't always easy, but they all address issues and resolve them in a friendly way. I found this refreshing - these days, most fantasy books wallow in gray morality and violence; Master of Djinn keeps the stakes high, but also makes the reader smile and feel warm and fuzzy inside.

In addition to the wholesome characters, engaging plot, and arcane mysteries, the book deals with issues such as colonialism, sexism, racism, and more, but never gets preachy. Instead, it allows the reader to make up their own mind about the morality of the issues.

A Master of Djinn is the first novel set in a world outlined in a novelette A Dead Djinn in Cairo and the novella The Haunting of Tram Car 015. Djèlí Clark delves deep into this world and ups the stakes considerably. With great success! The ending left me with a satisfied smile and appetite for more.

6 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A huge let-down, 2.5 stars

P. Djèlí Clark writes the most WONDERFUL short stories, but my first novel of his definitely leaves something to be desired.

Let me start by saying how much I was looking forward to reading this. I first encountered this universe in the short story «A Dead Djinn in Cairo» from 2019 -- a Tor.com-original that is marketed as a prequel of sorts (’Book 0.5’). But which I believe kicked off this author’s amazingly fresh foray into this wonderful universe. The short story introduces us to agent Fatma el-Sha’arawi, who then comes off as both very smart and capable, and her gorgeous sidekick and part-time girlfriend, the mysterious Siti.

In another prequel, the novella «The Haunting of Tram Car 015» introduces another odd couple, we meet agents Hamed al-Nasr and Onsi. Both Fatama and Siti have cameos in that one, if you know what to look for. I might even have liked that one even more than «Dead Djinn» because the characters are such great fun and the plot develops nicely while introducing us to the wider universe of this magival new Cairo without too much exposition.

Sadly, very little of what I liked so much about the prequels show up in this novel.

Firstly, where did the amazing agent Fatama go?! Unlike in the prequels, here she comes off as bumbling, vain and not very smart. Sure, we’re TOLD she’s this super dapper detective with insane skills of observation. But she constantly misses obvious clues, spends most of the book getting told what to do and where to go by other characters, and obsesses endlessly over her suits.
And oh the romance between her and Siti feels forced and bogs down the plot way too much. I really wanted to root for them, but they have zero chemistry until the very end of the book.

Secondly, the plot itself moves at a snail pace and feels disjointed. I almost put down the book several times because of it, but luckily things kicked into gear in the last quarter. However, until then, it was very difficult to care about the characters and what they were doing. The villain was also somewhat predictable. I think a lot of that could be fixed simply by writing another novella, instead of a whole novel.

Lastly, I miss Hamed and Onsi! I really, really hope we get to see more of them in future works, because they play off each other so wonderfully.
One of the saving graces of this novel was the introduction of agent Hadia, Fatama’s new partner that is forced on her by the Agency. She’s such a delightful character and I love how she grows throughout the book. Sadly, there are way too few scenes where we get to see Fatama and Hadia develop their professional relationship and eventual friendhsip. Instead, way too much time is spent on the romantic plot-tumor of Fatama and Siti. I like Siti, but I think she would have worked better as a supporting character with less screen time.

I will, however, read anything the author writes for this universe in the future. It’s shaping up to become a great series, one which would make a great televition series down the line.

5 people found this helpful

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Great book! Narrator was just ok.

This was a very fun book, very enjoyable! The magical, steampunk Cairo created by the author was colorful and full of details. I loved Agent Fatma, and the building relationship with Siti. (It helped to have read the precursor stories.) The unfolding of the plot and the mystery of the “masked man” kept me listening, though I had deduced the identity of who it was long before it was revealed. That was the only detriment to the book itself, and even that was minor. The book was more than enough fun to overcome that.

However, I must say I was disappointed in the narrator. She was ok with the “Egyptian” accents, though she was quite inconsistent at times, using both the trilled “R” and the flat “R” in the same sentence. But she failed quite badly at the English accents. Quite badly. It really grated on me! Also, the word “sow” when not applied to pigs is pronounced “so”, but the narrator kept rhyming it with “now”. Sigh. I think I would have enjoyed the book more if I’d just read it.

4 people found this helpful

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wonderful story!

With well rounded characters, strong (yet realistic) female leads, witty dialogue, and a great storyline this novel really shines. The narrator does a tremendous job with voices and accents. I've been looking forward to his first novel and hope this is the start of many more!

4 people found this helpful

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Hit and Miss

The story was decent, but the constant mis-pronunciation of words was distracting. I wanted to like the book based upon the premise. However it just seemed to be off somehow.

2 people found this helpful

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wonderful!

Simply amazing, it jumps gleefully from alternate history to urban fantasy to detective story and back with ease. I enjoyed the heck out of it and will recommend it heavily!

2 people found this helpful

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Outstanding, Imaginative Fiction

Origininal, compelling characters, non traditional story telling and a fascinating world. Djinn Punk setting.
The performance of this piece was really well done.

1 person found this helpful

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Right up my alley

I loved this story. For some, it might have started out a little slow, but I was really into the world and character building. It made me excited about reading again and I’m looking up the other books to listen now.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Feckless heroine

The world-building in the book is impressive, but our main character isn't, although that's not the intent of the author. At every important juncture in the story, she makes the wrong decision and, in spite of obvious clues, she doesn't pick up on the nature of her adversaries. The author also grants her the traditional, 1950s-era heroic quality of valuing abstract virtues over doing what's necessary to defeat the bad guys, thus debating the morality of taking the life of a nutjob who's trying to conquer the world.

1 person found this helpful

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It started out fantastic

The beginning is phenomenal, fantastic story telling, world building, sleuthing. 3/4s of the way through, it gets quite whiny, the story seems to struggle with writing attention grabbing scenes. I found myself just taking it in as back ground noise. It was anticlimactic, fight scenes would have been a good edition. The ending seemed appropriate, but it was missing something. There was a lot of build up for such a eh ending.

1 person found this helpful