Fantasy · Historical Fiction · Magical Realism

The Haunting of Tram Car 015

I’d checked this one out of the library a few months ago and never got around to it before another hold got placed on it, so I had to bring it back. But then I saw that Clark is apparently coming out with a full novel set in this same world and it gave me a push to hurry up and check it back out. That being said, I’m not sure why I was never read it the first time cause literally the moment that I picked this one up, I couldn’t put it down and basically read it in one (short) sitting!  

The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djèlí Clark

Agent Hamed Nasr and his new partner, Agent Onsi Youssef, working for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments, and Supernatural Entities in this alternate 1920s Cairo world, are called out to deal with a seemingly straightforward de-possession of a tram car. But it turns out to be a more complex haunting than the basic djinn they’d originally believed and things get a little out of hand, leading Hamed and Onsi into cooperation with feminist societies and underground religious ceremonies to attempt to save the city from the threat.

Well, this was just super fun! Though I think it’s fair to say that I could have predicted that, with a steampunk alternate 1920s Egypt populated with super cool and mysterious female suffragettes and sentient automatons where magical creatures like djinn are real. Like, yes please. I love the mythology and folklore of this region of the world so much (The City of Brass was a favorite for this reason as well, and I really need to work my way through the rest of that trilogy). And steampunk is always a “go” for me (The Watchmaker of Filigree Street and Amberlough are both under-hyped favs of mine within that genre). The combination of all that with some strong female representation in a time period and/or area where that was less common (similarly, I really enjoyed Soulless and need to read more from that series as well) is always a nice added alternate historical twist. So basically, this little novella took a number of my favorite tropes and myths and aspects and combined them all in a way that I just sped right through! In fact, I feel like I would be really into this as a tv series (anyone else get a Supernatural vibe?)!      

Yea, so as if you couldn’t tell, I super enjoyed my quick dip into this world and I am definitely looking forward to a deeper dive with Clark’s upcoming novel – there are lots of sociocultural tensions and interplay that I’m excited to see explored more, plus with world-building so great in such a slim book leads me to believe it will be truly spectacular with more space to grow/flourish. Overall, a fast and entertaining mystery, an exciting magical adventure, a delightful feminist fight for the vote side-story, steampunk and folklore elements sprinkled within and throughout the entire setting and plot, and a wonderfully smart and bordering on snarky writing tone that set the perfect mood for this story.   

3 thoughts on “The Haunting of Tram Car 015

  1. This one is on my audiobook to read list too. Great review and if you liked this you’ll definitely like A Dead Djinn in Cairo – his other short story ☺️ I read it recently and can’t wait to read the novel that comes out this year, which has a longer story but with the same characters 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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