Oh man! What a delightful short story.
I think what made it even more delightful is that I’m currently on a train from Aswan to Luxor in Egypt, having already been to Cairo earlier in the week. There is something about reading in the place where the story happens, it just makes it extra delightful.
Anyway, it’s a super quick read as it’s not even a novella, but a short story.
The main character is Fatima, a supernatural detective in Cairo at the turn of the twentieth century. A man named al-Jahiz had managed to tunnel between worlds, allowing the djinn and all manner of supernatural agents to make their way to earth.
The story starts with Fatima, who dresses in a three piece suit and bowler hat (and cane), investing the death of a djinn, who has been drained of all its blood. The image of Fatima and her ‘just fuck right off with your bullshit’ attitude made me love her immediately. I want a whole book of Fatima investigating all the magical shenanigans all over Egypt.
Her sidekick is a hapless police inspector, with massive walrus moustache and a bit disconcerted by Fatima (who again, gives no fucks).
Anyway, it’s pretty short but it gives a delightful pictures of a Cairo transformed by Djinn inventions and magic. I love the revival of ancient Egyptian religions, if only because I had been in temples over the last few days which featured Hathor (who has her cult revived in the book).
As well, there’s a delightful couple moments with Siti, an infidel ninja-like woman, who dons silver claws to take supernatural shit out (and a rifle, she is totes bad-ass and I love her as well). The lovely bit of dialogue with Siti and an angel about angels just in general making up God was delightful.
Anyway, for such a short story, I sure had a lot to say. I really want some more of this world, it was so packed with inventive ideas and atmosphere, that it’ll be a right damn shame if there’s not some more out there. I’m going to have a look once I’m off this train. Totally pick this up and have a go, it’ll be worth the hour of your time to devour it.
Fatima is one of my new favourite characters, alongside Murderbot and Lila Bard. Such a tease to have her in a short story!