Thursday, June 5, 2014

Book Review: Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn

Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn

By:  Danielle Ackley-McPhail & Day Al-Mohamed

Publisher:  Palomino Press

Publish Date:  September 1, 2014

Format:  eARC

Genre:  Science Fiction - Steampunk

Series:  Stand-alone

Recommendation:  An old tale remastered with magics of clockworks and magic. One to relax and read.

Come, Best Beloved, and sit you by my feet. I shall tell you a tale such as sister Scheherazade could have scarce imagined. A tale of wonders, of deeds both great and grievous, of courage that defies description, and above all, Child of Adam, I shall tell you a tale of love.

The night is for the telling of tales to which the morning may bear Truth. In the oldest of days and ages and times, there was, and there was not, a great evil that reached across the desert and beyond…

In the Nejd there is nothing at all…except secrets. A band of thieves wish such secrets to remain hidden.

In England, far from his desert home, Ali bin-Massoud serves as apprentice to the famed Charles Babbage. One night a mysterious box is delivered by a clockwork falcon and Ali’s world is never the same again. Heartache, danger, and thieves mark his journey as Ali is summoned home at the death of his father.

It will take faith, knowledge, and yes, love to realize his destiny, and more than a little skill with steam-driven technology. Can he unravel the mystery of the puzzle box and the clockwork djinn before it is too late? An ancient legacy and Ali's very life depend on his success.

Hear you the tale of Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn.

Purchase At:
Amazon   /   Barnes & Nobles   /   Book Depository

**I requested from the author for an honest review.

My Thoughts and Summary:
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.


  1. Thanks for the great review, Mel! It sounds like you like it :) I'm very glad for that. We enjoyed ourselves so much we're already scheming other tales in this universe.

    1. Hi Danielle, Oh yes. It was a delight to read. Loved the blends of different 'magics' here. :) Thank you. Really looking forward to more that you cook up here. :)

    2. Thanks, Mel,

      So are we! With so much fertile (and virtually untouched) ground to explore and three creative minds throwing stuff into the mix, even we never know what to expect! That's what makes it so much fun!

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks. We had a lot of fun with it :) Something different to play with than my usual urban fantasy.

  3. Sounds pretty interesting, I'll have to keep an eye out for it.

    1. Thanks, Bea. I would love to know what you think if you get a chance to read it!

  4. I don't think I've ever read the original, but this update sounds interesting!

    1. I had a record album when I was a kid and this was one of the stories on it. To tell you the truth, it's the only one I remember! I used to listen to it constantly! Even so, when we went back to read the original when we prepared to write Baba Ali there was so much more there than I'd remembered!

      Originally our version was supposed to be a short story...once it hit 17,000 words we were told to go finish the book ;)

      You never realize exactly how much is in those old tales because they were told, not shown.

      Anyway, thanks again!

    2. Alexia, It was very neat. I really enjoyed the blend of magic and steam/clockworks in the world. Nicely done. :) Hope you get to check it out. :) Thank you!

    3. You know, Mel, that was the most challenging part. This story was so magical it took us a while to work out how to integrate the steampunk elements and not have them just be window dressing..

      It wasn't until this transformed into a novel that that really came together.

  5. Bea hope you enjoy it if you pick it up. :) Thank you for visiting!

  6. Great news! This just became available on Kindle today!


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