Steampunk Adventure in Egypt

The Haunting of Tram Car 015”

by P. Djeli Clark, 2019


Fantasy should take us to strange new worlds and “Tram Car” does just that. Or rather, two worlds. No, make that three worlds.


The first of these worlds is the Steampunk venue, with a technically advanced vision of 1912. This includes tram cars over Cairo, airships, and even robots—make that, boilerplate eunuchs.


But then there is the supernatural world, in which spirits from beyond have entered our world. Principal among these are the Djinn—demons of “The Arabian Nights”, but not the pure evil fiends of European lore. Indeed, in this alternate world, Djinn live and work side-by-side with humans.


Lastly, and most interesting, is the Egyptian world. The heroes may be a pair of occult detectives, working for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments, and Supernatural Entities, but they are both Egyptians. Hamed, the seasoned veteran, is a Muslim. Onsi, a rookie fresh out of school, is a Copt. Even if friendly robots and demons aren't your thing, you might enjoy seeing a part of the real world not often in view to Western readers.


One other factor in this book is a burgeoning feminist movement in 1912 Egypt. Suffragettes are on the move, and some of them are witches, championing a semi-underground cult. Indeed, aside from the two male heroes, and the unsavory Superintendent, all the other characters are female.


Hamed and Onsi are a very likable and amusing pair. Quite different from one another, they make a perfect team. Told they're dealing with an unruly ghost, they soon discover it's something more.


The book is short, a tad light, but definitely fun. With lots of action and an engaging story, “The Haunting of Tram Car 015” would make a great movie.


5 stars.

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