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.
“Quite dreadful. No one liked desk duty. It often seemed half their job was paperwork as it was. Who joined the Ministry for the thrill of filling out endless reports, in triplicate no less? Then again, he thought dismally, neither did they expect to spend their days haggling with government bureaucrats over haunted tram cars.”
I have yet to read P. Djèlí Clark’s The Black God’s Drum, but it’s high on my TBR list! From what I understand, The Haunting of Tram Car 015 is set within the same world as Clark’s short story published in 2016 on Tor.com, A Dead Djinn in Cairo. It’s an alternate steampunk Cairo, that takes place in 1912. A fantasy filled with magic & djinn & ghouls & a haunted tram.
Even though I have never read Agatha Christie, this puts me in mind of something she would write. Perhaps because it is a murder mystery that takes place on a form of public transportation? Like if Christie wrote a Sherlock Holmes novel.
Historical fantasy is a tough genre for me to lose myself in. It’s surely a difficult task, consciously fictionalizing the past. It can be quite limiting. I’m such a lover of world-building & finding myself immersed in the details, that when it comes to a historical setting, sometimes it just doesn’t captivate me as much. This is an instance where I think I would have enjoyed The Haunting of Tram Car 015 more if it was a longer story. Or maybe it wouldn’t have resonated with me at all in that case. WHO EVEN KNOWS?!
This was charming, diverse & well-written. It just didn’t fully come together for me, but YMMV. A lot of people are going to dig this!
(Thank you to Tor.com Publishing for always sending me random surprise book mail!)
**The quotes above were taken from an ARC & are subject to change upon publication**