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A Dead Djinn in Cairo

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  2,809 ratings  ·  562 reviews
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 ...more
ebook, 43 pages
Published May 18th 2016 by Tor Books
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A confident, urbane investigator has a dead djinn on her hands. The setting is vaguely a steampunk colonial Cario, with an interesting twist--when magic was discovered, the locals were able to throw out the British colonizers. The byproduct of magic is a plethora of djinns, angels, and ghouls. Really interesting and well done, with an intriguing female lead and hints of alternate gender/sexuality. I'd read a book-length tale.

Might appeal to fans of Detective Chen (of Liz Williams) although with
Jun 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Fatma el-Sha’arawi is a Special Investigator for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities in an alternate-history Cairo where supernatural entities live alongside human beings. The magically exsanguinated body of a djinn turns out to be only the first death of the night.

Fun! Hope for more by this author. It would also be great as a graphic novel, very visual and with lots of action.
Nov 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Dennis by: Mir
Cairo, 1912. Fatma el-Sha’arawi, special investigator with the Egyptian Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments, and Supernatural Entities, comes across a dead djinn that has been drained of his blood. Together with her partner inspector Aasim Sharif she starts to look into the case.

Their investigation will lead them to palaces, into a mausoleum, and through the streets of Cairo. Some steampunk elements are to be found in this alternate Cairo, but they are not predominant. The most prominent feature o
Mar 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: sci-fi & steampunk buffs looking for something New
Recommended to jade by: carol.
“most of cairo slept, except for the glow of a gaslight market or the pinprick lights of towering mooring masts where airships came and went by the hour.

her fingers played with her cane’s lion-headed pommel, watching aerial trams that moved high above the city, crackling electricity illuminating the night along their lines.”

last month i had the immense pleasure of reading the haunting of tram car 015, another novella by p. djèlí clark set in an enchanting, 1900s steampunk cairo. thu
Sep 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is Cairo; this is 1910 C.E…………….or it’s not. This is the second piece I have read by Clark and I am captured by this author's web. As you can see, I started and finished it in a few hours.

This book's hero is a plucky young “inspector” named Fatma. She has the smarts and the style to tackle a world that we can only imagine since Cairo was changed a couple decades before this tale by someone who intentionally let magic and magical creatures into the wo
Althea Ann
Mar 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Paranormal steampunk fantasy set in 19th century Cairo, starring a feisty female investigator.
Fun, but rather by-the-numbers and not as remarkable as I felt P. Djeli Clark's other story that I've read was. ("Things My Mother Left Me.") That one set my expectations rather high, I have to admit!
Jan 01, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Set in a steampunk version of Cairo in 1912, Fatma el-Sha’arawi is a special investigator with the Egyptian Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments, and Supernatural Entities. She is called to a murder, where a dead djinn has been exsanguinated. Her investigation leads her to the famous City of the Dead, where she finds ghouls feasting, eventually figuring out an evil plot to unleash chaos. While I appreciate Arabian mythology and the Cairene setting, the characters are significantly underdeveloped. R ...more
4.5 stars. I loved the world building; I got a great picture, even though this is only a short, of a complex world with interesting social dynamics because of the presence of the djinn, ghul, ifrit and Angels existing alongside humans. I kept picturing a nattily-dressed Fatma making her way through Cairo on her investigations of otherworldly incidents. I would happily follow Fatma through more of her cases. My only complaint about this great story is that I want more Fatma and Siti saving the wo ...more
Richard Derus
Apr 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Rating: 3.5* of five

A delicious taste. More, please.
Definitely a solid 4.5.

I’ve always heard that the short stories by are awesome but never got around to reading any before. But as I’m waiting for the nebula nominated The Haunting of Tram Car 015 to arrive from the library, I decided to try this short in the meantime. And it was just wow.

Clocking at just about 40 pages, I was only expecting a fun murder mystery being solved by a female investigator but I didn’t expect the author to capture the atmosphere of a steampunk, paranormal earl
Aug 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
An alternative Cairo, filled with steampunk Angels, magic and Djinn. A murder mystery with a diverse leading woman who rocks a gentleman's suit and cane. And a wonderfully action filled plot that ricochets between the supernatural and the mysterious. And all neatly written within 50 pages.

Honestly, Fatma's character development is better than I've seen in 500+ page books, and I felt fully invested in the story. The world building is just enough to whet my appetite without being too much for suc
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
The same but different.

Enter the alternate world of eastern magic set Cairo about 1920.

The story's title caught my eye. It reminded me of the "Dead man in..." series of detective/murder novels by Michael Pearce, which are set around the Mediterranean. This story looked so similar that I began reading it.

Our detective, Fatma, is a young lady working alongside men who can not quite accept her.

The beginning of magic...
al-Jahiz, the famed Soudanese mystic and inventor. Some named him as one and the
Dec 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The plot is simplistic, but the worldbuilding is pretty great, especially for a short story.
Jan 27, 2017 rated it really liked it

Plum Gingerbread. That's what this nifty short read is...Plum Gingerbread.

Continuing my 'affair' with Egyptian tales (The Names of Things, Voyage to the Pharos, What Life Was Like on the Banks of the Nile: Egypt, 3050-30 BC, The Alchemist, Chronicle of the Pharaohs: The Reign-By-Reign Record of the Rulers and Dynasties of Ancient Egypt, The Keys of Egypt: The Race to Crack the Hieroglyph Code, The Golem and the Jinni), I eagerly awaited my chance to read of the land of magic (well, it is
May 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As a teen I read way too much Lawrence Durrell… I know, I know, what was I even doing reading it? But, I loved his descriptions of Alexandria and Egypt. This story feels like that to me. Evocative.
It’s also a magic steampunk version of The Mummy, if the librarian was a policewoman who dresses like an Englishman (tailored suit, bowler hat, cane and fob watch), and the rogue who helps rescue her is a claw and rifle wielding Nubian magic wielder who is also female and flirts with menace.
Fatma’s wat
Dec 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! 6 stars.

In a scant 40 pages Clark creates an exquisite and fully realized world, characters and mythology, and tells a great tale that feels fully complete, not one additional word required. So good I read it twice! Many authors struggle to do half as much, half as well in 300-400 pages. A writer to watch. VERY highly recommended for lovers of fantasy, particularly those who love fantasy with an exotic Egypt/Middle East/North African influence.
Oleksandr Zholud
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a novelette about alt-history Cairo at the start of XX century. The border between worlds was breached a generation ago and now magic is real, Egypt is a powerful state and people coexist with Djinns and angels.

Just like the title suggests, the story starts with a dead djinn, exsanguinated and there are for strange symbols next to the victim. The protagonist, Fatma el-Sha’arawi, is well-educated female detective working for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments, and Supernatural Entities
Montzalee Wittmann
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Very entertaining!

A Dead Djinn in Cairo is a short story but has all the fun from a big book crammed into it! Angels, djinns, magic, and more! Interesting characters U would love to see in a novel, and a great plot!
mina reads™️
I really wish this was a full length novel 😩
The Captain
Jun 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Ahoy there me mateys!  This is me third work by the author but not me last.  I have loved every one.  The first story was the black god's drums which takes place in an alternate steampunk 1884 New Orleans where slavery in the South is not illegal.  Then I read “The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington,” which was a 2019 Hugo short story finalist and inspired by this real quote "“‘By Cash pd Negroes for 9 Teeth on Acct of Dr. Lemoire’ –Lund Washington, Mount Vernon plantation ...more
Peter Tillman
Well-written and fun, if not quite first-rate. Or, maybe, just not quite my sort of thing? Anyway, worth a try, if exotic Steampunk is your choice. Chthulhu pushing through the Great Clock.... A bit much, but love the artwork!

More of Kevin Hong (the Illustrator's) work:
Suaad (I just want a cat)
Update January 2020:
Upped the rating to 5 stars and added to favourites shelf because this novella was remarkable. Clark achieved so much in such a short story that it's still fresh in my mind even a year later

Also, we are getting a full novel in the same world soon so woohoo!
Matthew Quann
Dec 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun and quick

I was delighted to see The Haunting of Tram Car 015 had a prequel short story from a few years ago. The world remains interesting, and this story is action-packed. It doesn’t have all the charm of Haunting’s case, and is more focused on bombastic, widescreen action. All the same, this is good fantasy fun. Would recommend to fans of Clark’s work!
More please. :) Fun adventure in an alternate 1912 Egypt. The opening made me expect more of a mystery, but it was more adventure in that Fatma is led to the showdown with the big evil rather than puzzling it out, but the setting and characters are cool, and I'll certainly pick up any more of Fatma's adventures if some novels or more shorts are forthcoming.
May 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
I enjoy a story that involves a Djinn -albeit, a dead one. The world-building in this novella was wonderful for a short book. What a whirlwind of colorful characters! I'm looking forward to reading the next book (The Haunting of Tram Car 015). I thought the ending was a little predictable. I wish there was more of a twist. But overall, it was a wonderful ride!
May 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Came for the Djinn, stayed for the suave, badass MC. I quickly fell in love with Fatma and her cunning. This woman totally deserves her own novel. A Dead Djinn in Cairo is fast, fun, and lush. I highly recommend this story as well as other works by Phenderson!
Karina Webster
This was fun! Would love a full length novel set in this world
Apr 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: short books fantasy
Shelves: short-reads, fantasy
This was a pretty complex story. The mystery was well paced and the leading character was interesting and a strong female lead. The whole universe was entertaining and it should be turned into a proper book, as it has an amazing mythology. The setting was an almost dreamy one and it was well selected. The writing was beautiful too. However, there were some gorry scenes there.
Mike Finn
I think P. Djèlí Clark is a fantasy writer to watch. He has a distinctive voice, a different way of looking at the world, proudly pushes aside anglo-centric views of fantasy and gives us something fresh and compelling. Best of all, his stories are fun to read. His novella, ‘The Black God’s Drums’ was one of my favourite reads last year.

His short story, ‘A Dead Djinn In Cairo’ is set in an alternative Cairo in 1912 where the Egyptians have kept the British and the French at bay by using magic un
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Phenderson Djèlí Clark.

P. Djèlí Clark likes creating fantastic, dangerous, and exciting worlds. Usually with heroines & heroes. Almost always with magic & monsters. His short fiction has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Lightspeed, and in print anthologies including Griots, Steamfunk, Myriad Lands and Hidden Youth.

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“She looked closer at the object she’d mistaken for a bookmark—a length of metallic silver tinged with hints of bright mandarin. She picked it up, holding it aloft as it glinted in the gas lamps’ glare.

Aasim cursed, his voice going hoarse. “Is that what I think it is?”

Fatma nodded. It was a metallic feather, as long as her forearm. Along its surface, faint lines of fiery script moved and writhed about as if alive.

“Holy tongue,” Aasim breathed.

“Holy tongue,” she confirmed.

“But that means it belongs to . . .”

“An angel, ” Fatma finished for him.

Her frown deepened. Now what in the many worlds, she wondered, would a djinn be doing with one of these?”
“Even now, you fail to grasp the strength of my conviction.” And with those last words, he plunged the three blades through his body—one stabbing into his chest, a second ripping apart the armor surrounding his heart, and a third sliding through the metallic links of his neck. Bright fluid like the blood of a star poured from the wounds. He swayed, then toppled to crash upon the ground and was still.

“Well, that was unexpected,” Siti remarked.”
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