Book Review: A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark

Posted March 28, 2023 by lomeraniel in Audiobooks, Fantasy, Review, Ucrony / 0 Comments

Book Review: A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí ClarkA Master of Djinn (Dead Djinn Universe, #1) by P. Djèlí Clark
Narrator: Suehyla El-Attar
Series: Dead Djinn Universe #1
Published by MacMillan on May 11, 2021
Genres: Fantasy, Ucrony
Length: 15 hrs and 37 mins
Format: Audiobook
Source: Libby
Buy on Amazon/Audible
Overal Rating: three-stars

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 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 1912 Cairo, Fatma el-Sha’arawi, an experienced agent for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, is tasked with investigating the murder of a secret brotherhood dedicated to al-Jahiz, a famous figure who opened up the magical realm 50 years prior. The murderer claims to be al-Jahiz himself, back to condemn modern society, and his dangerous powers threaten to cause chaos in the city. With the help of her colleagues and girlfriend, Fatma must solve the case and restore peace to Cairo.

A Master of Djinn had an interesting premise and world-building, but unfortunately, it fell short in a few areas. I took me a long while to get into the story, and I found myself zoning out often. The main characters were female, and while I appreciate female representation in literature, couldn’t relate to them, mostly due to poor character development. The irregular pace of the story didn’t help. The author repeatedly referred to a particular event in the story that was originally introduced in a separate short story. Since I had not read this story, I felt like I was missing out on some important context.

I appreciated the attention to detail given to the descriptions of clothing in the book. At first, I enjoyed the way the author meticulously described each character’s attire, but eventually, it became overwhelming and tiresome. Unfortunately, this focus on clothing came at the expense of other types of descriptions, and I found it difficult to visualize the various settings mentioned in the story.

Suehyla El-Attar had a pleasant voice, but there were a few minor issues with the narration. For instance, the female voices were too similar, which made it challenging to distinguish between Fatma and her two companions during their conversations. Additionally, the male voices were somewhat exaggerated, and I would have preferred more subtlety in their portrayal. Another issue with the narration was a lack of consistency in the voices and accents, which was particularly noticeable among the British characters. Additionally, the pacing was uneven, with moments of acceleration and slowdowns that disrupted the flow of the story. Furthermore, there were instances of over-dramatization in the interpretation, and the narrator’s shouting had a negative impact on the listening experience.

Overall, “A Master of Djinn” had good premises, but the poor character development and diverse plot issues left me uninterested in the outcome.

Story (Plot)
Overall: three-stars