So when I read and liked The Haunting of Tram Car 015 in my Hugo novella reading, it was pointed out to me that Clark had written another novella in that setting, so I went off and read P. Djeli Clark’s A Dead Djinn in Cairo and The Black God’s Drums.

A Dead Djinn in Cairo is the one that’s in the same world as Tram Car 015—it’s an alt-history Cairo where magic is returned to the world, and (as in the other story), we’re following an official in the government agency whose job it is to investigate supernatural crimes, as they investigate a murder. It’s pretty clear that I was supposed to have read this before the later story—while Tram Car 015 stood alone just fine, there were in retrospect character callbacks to this one that I hadn’t recognized as such, but had recognized as having weirdly important-seeming characters who played only minor roles. The mystery of this one is a little more obvious than in the later story, and it feels a bit more rushed, like a novel crammed into novella form, but it’s still good stuff. (Although oh wait, now that I’m looking stuff up, I see that this is actually “A Dead Djinn in Cairo,” properly styled, as it’s a novelette and not a novella. Which certainly explains why it’d feel like it wanted more wordcount. Oops. Well, I’m still counting it as a full book, since it was published under its own cover and all, so neener.) Anyway, I love this setting and I want a novel in it, and allegedly one is on its way, so that’s cool.

So The Black God’s Drums (which actually is a novella—I just checked) isn’t in that same setting, but is also an alt-historical fantasy with airships and magic. This one is set in New Orleans, but a New Orleans that’s not part of any United States. It follows a young street girl as she meets up with an airship captain to… well, figuring out exactly what’s going on is a lot of the story, so I’ll just leave it at that. It’s also a lot of fun, and I’d be happy to read a novel in this setting, too.

Both stories are highly recommended to anyone who likes alt-historical fantasy, and Clark is on my read-on-sight list at this point.


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