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Book Review: Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn by Danielle Ackley-McPhail & Day Al-Mohamed

Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn: A Steampunk Faerie Tale - Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Day Al-Mohamed

Eighteen year old Ali bin-Massoud is visited by a mechanical falcon while in England apprenticing under Ustad Babbage. The falcon leaves him a gift, a puzzle box - something he's loved for years - inscribed in his home language with his name. This one is more special as it's crafted with clockwork and magic. Kassim, Ali's older brother, rudely is awaken in the night to find his fathers horse has returned, riderless and blood soaked. Ali had his own plans for his life, until he is called home by his brother to help with the home. Kassim has his own motives for calling his brother home, the greed for something he heard his father talk of with his younger brother. But the family's hidden secret and honor surfaces, following Ali and after the pieces that have surfaced. Ali has the mind for mechanics, and a profession from the family's past that needs nurtured to clear the dishonor in the family. Along with taking care of the family secret.

The culture and structure of living is strongly projected here in this story. The second son of a successful merchant, Ali would have to find his own way in life as his older brother inherits the business. We even see the prejudice that's present toward Ali and his difference in dress and skin tone in a different nation, bringing a feel of real to Ali.

The story twists magic and clockworks together, even some steampunk elements. There is talk of magic found in England along with that at the desert. But we see the magic more in the desert with the djinn. Clockworks become a magic of their own in this world too. Something wondrous to others not of the mechanical mind thinking.

The writing is artfully descriptive. The story of Ali and the forty thieves is one well know. Danielle and Day twist that tale with a bit of truth, magic, and mechanical for us to hear.

We get the story from Ali's and Kassim's point of view, even from another's later on. It makes sense why it's shift to the other character after you meet them. But it's the view of the whole world and happenings. It explains what is happening and why. I wonder if Ali realizes how lucky he is in avoiding the tortures and death on numerous occasions, thanks to his kind heart and friends he makes.

An old tale remastered to include magics of different kinds. Sit back and relax with this old tale.