P. Djèlí Clark’s A Master of Djinn is the literary equivalent of a cup of lovely mint tea: a refreshing, delightful and magical mystery to enjoy while absorbing vitamin D on a crisp spring day. The fourth installment and first full-length novel of Clark’s Dead Djinn Universe series, the smooth and welcoming A Master of Djinn provides the perfect amount of fan service to engage returning fans without alienating new readers.
In this fantastical version of our world, a man named Al-Jahiz tore a hole in reality in 1872, unleashing Djinn and magic across the earth. In the 50 years since, international governments have taken a variety of approaches to the new existence of the supernatural. In Egypt, magic has not only been allowed, but embraced. This decision put Egypt on the map as a world power, driving other countries (seemingly on the precipice of this world’s version of World War I) to meet for a peace summit in Cairo. The summit is only a few weeks away when a man claiming to be Al-Jahiz returned from the dead commits a series of grisly murders. Fatma, a famous agent of the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities is assigned to the case. She is one of the Ministry's few female operatives, and her success has made her one of the Ministry’s favorite agents for difficult cases.
Clark’s characters have wholesome, wonderful interactions with each other, never waiting long to address their interpersonal conflicts and always resolving on friendly terms. “Friendly” is an apt description of the book as a whole. While there is certainly conflict, tension and danger in A Master of Djinn, the reader will find themselves propelled along through the book by the likeability and relatability of Fatma. Even if you guess the plot's various twists and turns, Fatma’s endearing style, gruffness and no-nonsense approach make A Master of Djinn worth reading.
While A Master of Djinn admittedly breaks little new ground, Clark has created an engaging mystery and a vivid world with intrigue, arcane secrets and an epic climax.