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A Dead Djinn in Cairo

(Fatma el-Sha’arawi #0.5)

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  5,904 ratings  ·  1,213 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
Audiobook, Unabridged, 1 page
Published August 27th 2019 by Macmillan Audio (first published May 18th 2016)
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Average rating 4.07  · 
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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
Jan 22, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shorts, 2021-reads
This is the first glimpse of the fascinating world that is further expanded in P. Djèlí Clark’s lovely Hugo- and Nebula Award nominated The Haunting of Tram Car 015. It’s the look at the alternate 1912 Cairo a few decades after a gateway to the world of supernatural was opened, bringing new residents in the form of the Djinn and the Angels (with the mechanical parts) and ghuls, turning Egypt into a modern and tolerant world superpower (the Djinn helped to defeat the British) and bringing quite a ...more
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
Dec 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh my lord, we've got a police procedural with a lady detective in a magically version of our world in CAIRO with djinn & ifrits? This was 100% my jam - can't wait to keep reading in this series! ...more
Jun 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
This Tor fantasy novella (free online here at is memorable mostly for its setting: A magical steampunk version of Cairo, Egypt, in 1912. Forty years earlier a man managed to open a portal to the other magical side, and djinni, "angels" and other magical creatures streamed through to our world. The good news is, they helped the humans quickly kick the British government out of Egypt. But can you trust them?

Special Investigator Fatma el-Sha’arawi, an unusually liberated woman for her day
Nov 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 27, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A rich taste of UF set in 1912 Egypt, with all the magical goodies you might expect from that part of the world.

It's a classic mystery with a host of the divine and not-so-divine. I suppose I would be MORE interested in a longer tale or a full series rather than this short taste, but from what I've read, I did enjoy it.

Looking forward to more.
Althea Ann
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!
Mark Rizk Farag
Aug 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
01/04/2021 - Tried the Audiobook second time round and I'd give that a 4 star review 😅. A bit weird but I definitely prefer the text. I feel like the narrator was decent, it felt at times that she was trying too hard with her accent and that while the text wasn't orientalist, the performance certainly was at times. Also the accent more like a 'Jewish Brooklyn' accent than an 'Egyptian Arabic' one (if that's what she was going for). Anyway, enough rambling! The audiobook is mad cheap and if that' ...more
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This is the third novella I've read by P. Djèlí Clark and once again I find myself loving his building but not his story or characters. This novella is set in an alternate 1912 Cairo where djinns and angels are the norm. world happens to be the home to djinns Egypt, . 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. Wha
Richard Derus
Rating: 3.5* of five

A delicious taste. More, please.
Di Maitland
4.5*s. In just 43 pages, this story evokes a wonderfully exotic and intriguing world that I hope to see more of in future. The story is free to read here on Tor.

Set in 1912 in a Cairo that has traded British colonials for magical beings (an excellent trade if you ask me), the story follows Fatma el-Sha’arawi, Special Investigator for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, as she investigates the death of a very large, blue djinn.

Fatma is one of those people who's so coo
may ➹
3.5 stars

It’s impressive how much was able to be packed into this short of a story. There were a few times where I thought it could have benefitted from being a tiny bit longer, where the anticipation could have been built up more, but it was well-paced overall. I am so intrigued by the worldbuilding—from the gleaming city of Cairo, a mix of mechanical wonders and magic, to the threat of dark gods and the multiple other worlds they come from—and I can’t wait to read the rest of the books to see
i think we're all in agreement here that p. djèlí clark writes the most FASCINATING and immersive worlds ...more
Sep 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this - I need to read more Arab inspired fantasy!
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
mina reads™️
I really wish this was a full length novel 😩
Fabulous world-building and a wonderful lead character. I really enjoyed this novelette, and am absolutely THRILLED to know that there will be a novel starring Fatma.
Nov 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Everything I do is obviously political, I don't think there's anything I write that doesn't have some kind of political motif. If I'm writing works like A Dead Djinn in Cairo, yeah, I want to tell this wonderful tale, first and foremost I want to tell the story, but I'm also well aware that in having a queer woman character as the main lead, and having the anticolonial narratives in there, and deciding to set this steampunk story outside of Victorian England I'm immediately engaging in politics
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
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 11, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-authors, lgbtq
Actual Rating: 4.5 stars

Procedural murder mystery in an alternate history 1912 Cairo with steampunk and djinn, plus a female detective in a snappy suit? Perfection. A Dead Djinn in Cairo is a fun, fast-paced mystery short story with paranormal elements and an impressive amount of world-building and character development given the length. Fatma is a great character and I look forward to reading on in the series!
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.

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
Jan 20, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ridiculously fun.
Ridiculously short.
Thank goodness this was only the first appetizer.
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SciFi and Fantasy...: "A Dead Djinn in Cairo" by P. Djèlí Clark 8 40 Feb 19, 2020 12:59PM  

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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.

Other books in the series

Fatma el-Sha’arawi (3 books)
  • The Haunting of Tram Car 015 (Fatma el-Sha’arawi #0.6)
  • A Master of Djinn (Fatma el-Sha’arawi #1)

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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?”
“And her father always said if people were going to stare, you should give them a show.” 4 likes
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