Review: The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djèlí Clark

Rating: 8.5/10

Synopsis

The Haunting of Tram Car 015 returns to the alternate Cairo of Clark’s short fiction, where humans live and work alongside otherworldly beings; the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities handles the issues that can arise between the magical and the mundane. Senior Agent Hamed al-Nasr shows his new partner Agent Onsi the ropes of investigation when they are called to subdue a dangerous, possessed tram car. What starts off as a simple matter of exorcism, however, becomes more complicated as the origins of the demon inside are revealed.

Review

Thanks to the publisher, author, and narrator for a listening copy of The Haunting of Tram Car 015 for review consideration. This did not influence my thoughts or opinions.

Enchanting and original, The Haunting of Tram Car 015 is the alternative 1912 Cairo you never knew you needed. Magic, technology, a haunting, and steampunk flavor all come together to build a wonderful story that was a delight to read.

This review will be pretty short and to the point as novellas are notoriously difficult to talk about without spoilers or without rehashing the synopsis that you can read for yourself.

I read The Black God’s Drums a little over a year ago and absolutely fell in love with Clark’s world-building, let alone the characters he builds those worlds around. The same thing can be said this time around, though the characters are a little more quirky and the mystery is a little more shrouded.

One thing the author definitely excels at is bringing the reader into his alternate cities with the sights, sounds, smells, and even tastes of the localities. This tool of engagement is why I continue to come back to Clark’s writing, you know, on top of how great his stories truly are and how they shine in such a short page count.

This is a Sherlock/Poirot detective story with a backdrop of women’s suffrage and the entire thing is expertly woven to a dramatic conclusion. Did I mention the djinns? Because they are literally everywhere.

I could also listen to the narrator, Julian Thomas, all day long. Always up for trying out new narrators, you can add his name to the long list of winners in my book. Definitely look forward to more from him.

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