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

Master of Djinn, is a complex tale with so many moving parts. The author does an exceptional job tying them all together, and weaving such a complex story effortlessly, never dropping a thread, until it all ties up in a neat little conclusion at the end.

A story set approximately 100 years in our past, but set in an alt reality where Djinn are real, and have recently come to live among the humans of earth. Set in Egypt, with a decidedly steampunk vibe to it all.

** Spoilers Ahead **

Our main character, Agent Fatma, must solve the crime of who is the Al-Jahiz imposter, catch them, and stop the maniacal power grab of the imposter, and all it could destroy; with the help of her new partner, Hadia, and her mystical girlfriend Siti. Throw in Djinn of all shapes, sizes, and sorcery; a few half-djinn, some mythical Lords of Djinn, beings who call themselves ‘angels’ but are not the angels you want to think they are… earth religions, gang wars, steampunk vehicles, add a twisted complex story, in the race to stop the nefarious plan of the Al-Jahiz.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

• Story pacing? Fast paced, and non stop from the first sentence, without feeling like it’s pushing too hard, or skipping details. 10/10

• Story character arcs? I’d say there are many arc, but none of them feel very significant. 3/10

• Story arc? This story is much more rooted in it’s overall story, and the characters are more the supporting actors. Though having said, that I feel like it’s more of a story, then a story arc. Fun, fast paced, adventure, mystery, magic, etc. but a story. 5/10

• Story writing quality? I would have very much enjoyed the story, if it had actually been in my language – English. And I’m not trying to be all snooty in my standpoint. But as someone who only speaks/reads one language, this book was anon-starter for me. I nearly stopped reading it every single day, because I was so frustrated with the quantity of not-english within. To be clear, I’m not against a story set at any non-english location of the planet. But as an English language published book, I do expect to be able to read and understand the story. It’s my opinion that in this case the editor greatly failed the readers. And the Author too – because it directly impacts the readability, which is also hand in hand for it’s quality. 1/10

• Story wokeness? ( tolerable / gag me) The main characters are predominantly female, and in roles such as government agents, in a time when that was pretty unlikely, not to mention the relationship between Siti and Fatma; which is noted as unconventional, and likely frowned upon. So, I guess it’s pretty ‘woke’ without being all annoying and preachy. Feels more like it’s written ‘alt-reality’ though. 7/10

• Grates against my annoyances? The Not English, or not bothering to explain it for us sad English only speaking folk. 0/10

• Grates against my annoyances? (fictional words) There were a number of classification of Djinn in the story. Whether they’re part of folklore, or made up, I do not know, but the names were difficult. 5/10

• Story romance level? We have a secret [but not so secret] relationship between Fatma and Siti. Though it isn’t there just for a romance thread. It lends to much of the plot line, and mixed threads, even some unexpected surprise moments. 9/10

• Story readability? UGH. This book was absolutely terrible. The use of ‘other language’ words used, without any explanation to what they translate to – was constant. Which makes it hard reading since it isn’t in English… the language the book is supposed to be. (All they gotta do, when using a ‘native’ language word , is the first time give it enough context and description that the reader understands what it is [or just frikking TELL us]… which this author decidedly is NOT doing. Bad editing. The amount of non-English language words was so high it totally ruined this story for me. One should not need a dictionary, in order to read/understand a book. 0/10

• Story Completeness (did it end on a cliff hanger, or a see my next book!)? No cliff hangers. An expert job taking the dozens of plot threads big and small and tying them all up with enough detail and resolution to be satisfying. 9/10

• Did the story cover familiar ground, or go new places? While technically nothing extraordinary here, it wasn’t really like anything I have read, so it was quite interesting and fresh in that respect. 8/10

• Was there anything I wanted to know that was left unanswered? Ahmed took the ring. A very powerful item. But really what happens? Surely this left enough room for it to com back into play in a future story. And what about the Djinn, after the 9 lords are gone? Are we l friends now? 7/10

• Things I really liked / or didn’t like? I did quite like a lot of the twists and turns of this story. Many unexpected things happened, and directions I didn’t expect coming. Even small details, such as the basket full of wiggling, cut off tongues. (eww!) I also quite enjoyed many of the directions and events that transpired between Fatma and Siti. While their relationship was more of a plot device, It really could have been more front and center, more developed and alive. 8/10

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