Saturday, October 23, 2021

A Master of Djinn (Dead Djinn Universe #1)


A Master of Djinn is a beautifully written alternate history fantasy set in WWI Egypt by Dr. P. Djèlí Clark. Released 11th May 2021 from Macmillan on their Tor/Forge imprint, it's 392 pages and is available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. 

This is such a transportive novel. I was reading it at a difficult time in my life; a time when I often simply didn't have the endurance to sit and read (and this is a shocking condition for me - I read constantly - voraciously). The narrative is so beautifully and evocatively written that it enraptured me and gave me a little respite from the real world. 

The protagonist (introduced in a currently free prequel available in Tor's website) is a smart, funny, badass sharp dressing investigator with impressive skills. The plotting is tightly written and despite being fantasy, it feels *real* and believable. Fatma's not perfect. She's not supergirl, just breezing through every hurdle. She's good at her job and part of that is knocking up against her limitations and knowing when to accept help from her team. 

I really loved the writing. It's good and the dialogue is sublimely readable. The subgenre (fantasy cop procedural set in an alternate world) is one of my absolute favorites and I finished the book impatient for the next. I promptly went back and re-read the earlier stories in the series (two of them are currently free from Tor). This author (already richly rewarded by his peers and fans with multiple nominations and wins for Hugo, Nebula, BFAs, Locus, etc) is also genuinely talented and readable. 

This is one of the best books I've read this year (and it's almost November and I'm bumping 700 books reviewed for 2021, so that's a fairly big field of competition). For readers who enjoy fantasy, alternate history, and mystery, this is a very very good book. The protagonist is in a lesbian relationship, but it's not a huge focus of the book; nor is the romance element overplayed in my estimation.

Can't wait to see what comes next.  

Five stars. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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