A Dead Djinn in Cairo by P. Djèlí Clark

A Dead Djinn in Cairo by P. Djèlí Clark
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery, Paranormal, Action/Adventure, Historical
Length: Short Story (46 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Egypt, 1912. In an alternate Cairo infused with the otherworldly, the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities investigate disturbances between the mortal and the (possibly) divine. What starts off as an odd suicide case for Special Investigator Fatma el-Sha’arawi leads her through the city’s underbelly as she encounters rampaging ghouls, saucy assassins, clockwork angels, and plot that could unravel time itself, in P. Djèlí Clark’s Tor.Com Original, A Dead Djinn in Cairo.

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Fatma el-Sha’arawi was an incredible likeable character. Her wry sense of humour made me laugh out loud more than once, and her taste for adventure made me wonder what kind of mischief she’d get into next. She was the sort of person I’d want to have with me on any sort of trip that might have the slightest whiff of danger attached to it. I’d be much more likely to survive such things if Fatma was around!

It would have been helpful to have a bit more world building in general. The narrator made references to certain social customs and other things about the place where Fatma lived without fully explaining them to the audience. Since this doesn’t appear to be a later installment in a series and the narrator did explain the monsters in more detail, I do wish they’d done the same for the setting. It would have lead me to choose a five-star review if this had happened.

All of the dangerous creatures in this book were described in vivid detail. I knew what a djinn was already, but I hadn’t heard of the other monsters that Fatma ran across as she attempted to find out why a djinn had died. It was nice to have such a clear understanding of what kinds of beings this character was dealing with and why most other humans stayed far away from them.

A Dead Djinn in Cairo should be read by anyone who loves a little adventure in their science fiction.

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