Today I’m reviewing several of P. Djeli Clark’s stories
The Angel of Khan el-Khalili
This is a short story published by Tor. I read it in about 30 minutes. That was some of the best 30 minutes of reading time I’ve had in a year or two. GO READ IT!
This short story is a brief, but intense story which focuses on characterization. To save her sister’s life, the protagonist must sneak out in the middle night, in a 1912 Cairo to confront a mechanical angel and demand a miracle of healing. But the angel is not messenger of God; it demands a high payment in return for it’s supernatural aid. It is a spiritual creature who feasts on secrets and souls.
A Dead Djinn in Cairo
A fantastic display of worldbuilding once again, with clockwork angels, suicidal marid djinn, resurgent ancient Egyptian religions, and dapper detectives. I really enjoyed this, especially how the author quickly captured multiple vibrant characters in short story/novella size. This book acts as a direct prologue to Master of Djinn; if you want to read that, read this first.
Black God’s Drums
How is this author this talented?! Switching from ‘Dead Djinn’ to this, I’m astonished how the author successfully changed his writing prose style. I would never have guessed that they were written by the same person (except that they have similar use of themes).
If I were to compare this to something by another author, I’d compare it to ‘Everfair‘ by Nisi Shawl. This has a very similar multicultural flavor, but where Everfair takes place in an Alternate History Africa, this takes place in an Alternate History the Big Easy. If you like the sound of airships, a civil war between North and South which resulted in a draw, a free Hispaniola, and superweapons capable of altering the face of the planet, check this out.
This book won the Nebula, Locus and World Fantasy awards for best Novella.
Yeah, okay, I can see why this book won so many awards. At first I wasn’t sold, but this novella did a really good job of bringing in characterization and setting, bringing to life 1920’s America. If I were to describe this, I’d say it’s ‘Lovecraft Country’ meets Madeline l’Engle. It’s a combo platter of SciFi, Fantasy and alternate history. While it’s personally my least favorite of these four, I think this is probably the ‘best’ in terms of artistic chops.
I will say that it could have been a bit shorter. The side quest with the ‘doctors’ could have been trimmed out, I think.
Did you like this critique/review? Here are some more:
- Studying ‘The Hallowed Hunt’ by Lois McMaster Bujold
- A Review of ‘Blood of the Chosen’ by Django Wexler
- A Critique of ‘Cordelia’s Honor’ by Lois McMaster Bujold
- A Study of ‘Dragon Mage’ by M. L. Spencer
- A Critique of ‘Empire of the Vampire’ by Jay Kristoff
- A Review of ‘Red Rising’ by Pierce Brown