Review: The Angel of Khan el-Khalili by P. Djeli Clark

Oof. WordPress is telling me that my last post was my July (2022) newsletter preview a full 17 days ago!! Yikes.

In my defense, I was on vacation from like the 1st through the 10th with family, and then I was going to write Tuesday night and post on Wednesday but fate had other plans.

A huge storm rolled through and knocked out the power at 6pm Tuesday night and it was not restored until after 6pm Wednesday night (a full 24 hr blackout). I had no wifi, very little running water, and I did not dare even open my refrigerator for fear that everything would spoil immediately.

It’s amazing how little you feel like do anything productive when even taking a shower becomes a whole project.

Anyway, everything is turned back on now (although I still had no cold water this morning, only scorching hot water), and I don’t really have many more excuses to put off writing so . . . Here we go!

The Paragraph I originally Wrote Pre-Power Outage:

While it seems like TV/movie viewers might be souring on interconnected universes, there seems to be plenty of energy left for them in books and literature, especially in the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres. Authors like Brandon Sanderson have used interconnected series, novels, novellas, and short stories, to weave a vast universe of fiction for which the term (Cosmere) “conquest” is an appropriate moniker for any readers attempting to remain “caught up”.

The Dead Djinn universe, written by P. Djeli Clark, does not have anywhere near the amount of entries, but is already making good use of a mixture of styles and story lengths to keep things fresh.

A Dead Djinn in Cairo introduced us to Special Investigator (for the  Egyptian Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments, and Supernatural Entities) Fatma el-Sha’arawi, and showed us the magic and wonder of a Steampunk Cairo. This second story, leaves behind much of what we learned about in the first story and gives us a laser focus on one of the more mysterious elements of this universe, Angels.

The Next Part I Added After the Power Outage:

We experience the tale through our own eyes with a 2nd person narration. Typically I do not really enjoy this style as I usually can’t help but feel like I’m being manipulated (or as it’s used in Harrow the Ninth, straight up gaslit) by the author, but I felt its use in this story actually felt quite natural.

My writer brain also shies away from 2nd person because simple things like describing what the main character (you) looks like, becomes a complicated and clunky task. Hiding the necessary backstory for a surprising plot twist? Impossible (for me) as the character (again you) has to just willfully ignore their own history (first person can have this problem also). This has never seemed all that plausible to me.

However, it’s clear from the outset that with this story, it is more about experiencing the world than anything else. You (how does it feel lol) end up being so wrapped up in the unknown, that there isn’t much chance to ponder everything that a character would know about themselves but you don’t cause you’re new to the story.

I mentioned a plot twist earlier, and while I won’t give it away, I will say that the deft handling of this element of the story was one of its more enjoyable aspects.

Finally, considering these stories are related, and don’t exist in a vacuum, I’m left wondering how the characters we meet in this tale will (or maybe won’t) reappear later on in the Dead Djinn universe.


Yep! We’ll see how these interconnected stories progress, but right now, The Angel of Khan el-Khalili seems a pretty low stakes but enjoyable glimpse into the Dead Djinn universe. It does an excellent job introducing us to the world, intrigues us with its mystery and magic, and then gives us a nice twist which leaves us thinking afterward.

Plus, at 32 pages, it’s a pretty short read, so no time lost if it’s not your cup of tea. I definitely give this one my whole hearted recommendation.

I’m looking forward to seeing how things progress in the next installment, The Haunting of Tram Car 015.

Well that’s all I have for now. Have any of you read this? What were your thoughts? What are you most looking forward to seeing in the next installment? Let me know in the comments.

Update 8/8/2022 – Apparently Khan El-Kahlili is a real place. An actual market in Cairo that was built as part of a tomb reconstruction in the 13th century. It’s famous for its architecture (arches particularly) and the sheer amount of stuff available to purchase. Today. I. Learned.

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